The Cabin in the Woods
What a swift kick in the ass! Co-written and produced by Joss Whedon (Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Firefly on TV, The Avengers), The Cabin in the Woods is the most self-aware and gleefully gory comedy-horror flick since the Scream series devolved into a parody of a parody. As I write this, there are probably forums of fanboys aflame, identifying and exchanging the horror movie references throughout. Its plot practically defies description, but the elevator pitch would be Evil Dead meets The Truman Show.
A handful of late 20- to 30-something “teenagers” led by Thor (Chris Hemsworth, in a high school varsity jacket while allegedly going to college) go to a clone of the Evil Dead cabin and, of course, are served up to untold horrors. While that’s the classic setup, this is a corkscrew of a plot that jerks with your expectations every time you think you’ve got it figured out. All the while the teens are being watched and manipulated like a psychotic reality show by a group of maliciously funny technicians, led by the great, laconic Richard Jenkins, in a super-high-tech facility. Like surrogate slasher filmmakers, the techs feverishly throw levers and twist knobs and dial in every horror movie setup imaginable—the game is rigged against the plucky teens in every way, and the techs get more and more desperate. But the one who sees behind the curtain is the bong-wielding stoner Marty (Fran Kranz), who already thinks we’re all puppets and that society needs to burn (ahem). The chronic he incessantly hits is so powerful, it defeats the mood- and mental-acuity-altering drugs the techies pump in. Saying more is too much of a spoiler; if you’ve got the guts for this kind of thing, strap yourself in for the ride!
The presentation here is first rate in every respect, with superbly detailed video and expansive, aggressive, and dynamic audio. The picture is heavy in dark imagery, with inky blacks that create a tremendous sensation of shadow detail and increase the suspense. At times it softens a smidge, but fine detail is always in abundance. The soundtrack is as off the rails as the plot, with super-aggressive surrounds and crushing bass at all times. Ambience is never overlooked, and the score is excellent. A wild, demo-quality track. The full kitchen sink is also thrown at the extras, standouts including the wine-laden commentary with Whedon and director Drew Goddard, the PiP BonusView material, and a really strong half-hour making-of that’s a cut above.
Studio: Lionsgate, 2012
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1
Length: 95 mins.
MPAA Rating: R
Director: Drew Goddard
Starring: Kristen Connolly, Chris Hemsworth, Fran Kranz