When talking about The Cabin in the Woods, the new horror from writer Joss Whedon (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Firefly, Avengers Assemble) and director Drew Goddard, it’s difficult not to give anything away. However, odds are if you’ve watched the spoiler-full trailer, you’ll know what I mean when I say that this film isn’t exactly normal.
Five American teenage stereotypes: a jock, his ‘dumb blonde’ girlfriend, a nerd, a ‘virgin’ and a hippy all decide to spend a week or two of their summer holiday in an isolated cabin in the middle of nowhere – in other words, we’ve seen it all before. Obviously they all ignore the words of warning the local red-neck who owns the gas station spits out, but it’s only when they reach the cabin itself that they get the feeling that something isn’t quite right.
“If you hear a strange sound outside… have sex,” reads one of the film’s many taglines, but this isn’t a mockery of horror, it’s more of an exploration, a film that asks the question ‘why?’. Why is it that the unsuspecting teenagers always choose the barely accessible cabin in the woods? Why, when put in life-threatening situations, do they always choose to split up? And why do the virgins always survive? It’s no coincidence that the long haired, weed smoking liberalist looks a lot like Shaggy from Scooby Doo, or that the virgin reminds you of the girl from Scream, because they’re supposed to; if you’re going to mess around with a genre, you have to start with the basics. Containing elements of other horror films, particularly ‘cabin in the woods’ classics such as Friday 13th, Cabin Fever and The Evil Dead series, it twists your expectations to such an extent that you’ll never watch The Texas Chainsaw Massacre again in the same way.
The Cabin in the Woods is intelligent, shocking and brilliantly self-aware, showing you just what Joss Whedon is capable of when set loose in the world of horror and if by the end it doesn’t answer all your questions, it’ll certainly leave you feeling impressed.