A transcendent horror flick 

'The Cabin in the Woods' gets wonderfully weird.

click to enlarge 'THE CABIN IN THE WOODS': Fran Krantz, Chris Hemsworth and Anna Hutchison star.
  • 'THE CABIN IN THE WOODS': Fran Krantz, Chris Hemsworth and Anna Hutchison star.

In the long, fabled history of stuck-in-the-boonies slasher flicks, there has never been, nor will there ever again be, another quite like "The Cabin in the Woods." To confine it to the horror genre, in fact, may be too constricting, in the same way that "Evil Dead 2" and "Men in Black" blended comedy with the occult and sci-fi, respectively. Rather, "Cabin" charts a bizarre, hilarious and, most of all, smart path toward one of the most exhilarating overall results of recent memory. Only rarely do big-budget productions so successfully stake out a patch of turf and defend it with this much aplomb.

There's not much else to be said without dropping a few light spoilers, so be warned. Five college-age friends load up an RV and head to the woods for a weekend of swimming, snogging and smoking up. A zippy bottle blonde named Jules (Anna Hutchison) and her side-of-beef boyfriend (Chris Hemsworth, of "Thor" fame) hope to hook up the good-girl Dana (Kristen Connolly) with the new-to-town nice guy (Jesse Williams), while stoner-jester Marty (Fran Kranz) operates as a Shaggy minus the Scooby. They have no way of guessing that their drive deep into the mountains to a dilapidated, eerie cabin is being monitored by functionaries spirited away in a concrete-walled high-tech bunker. (Richard Jenkins and Bradley Whitford are droll and delightful as two of the white-coated observers.) The reasons for this are not immediately clear, and to reveal them really would defang the surprises that lie in store. Suffice it that a certain degree of horror-carnage ensues, spliced with a ludicrous dark humor.

First-time director and "Lost" writer/producer Drew Goddard shares the writing credit with Joss Whedon, whose bona fides include the cinematic and television incarnations of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer." The best parts of "Cabin" draw amply from the spirit of those juggernauts — all the conspiratorial weirdness of "Lost," without the meandering, and the gory jollies of "Buffy." Throughout its breakneck 95 minutes, "Cabin" dares you to take it too seriously or too lightly. Mostly "Cabin" is precisely as weird as you want it. There's a certain three-word English-language phrase popularly abbreviated with the acronym WTF. By the time Marty exclaims it halfway through the movie, you will already have muttered it a dozen times yourself. It's that sort of ride.

By the end "Cabin" pulls an impressive double: It salts the earth against its own sequelization while making hash of vast swaths of scare-culture. That's no easy task, given that horror has become the most meta genre in cinema. Alas, audiences who attend horror films have become too savvy to be seduced any more; while there may be infinite ways to get a laugh out of someone, the vocabulary of fear is substantially shallower. The film industry has grappled with this in three ways: in-joke films ("Scream," etc.), gimmicks in perspective ("Blair Witch" and "Paranormal Activity" flicks) and torture-porn ("Saw" and its ilk) that double- and triple-down on the usual formula of darkness, sharp objects, sadism, claustrophobia and all the other basic elements of film-fright. The true genius of "Cabin" is that it co-opts and subverts the first two versions of that response while avoiding the cynicism of the third. The result is a genre-exploding film in a genre that already has sub-genres devoted to exploding the genre. The greatest risk in seeing it is that you may never look at horror the same way again.


Film Details

The Cabin in the Woods
Rated R · 95 min. · 2012
Official Site: discoverthecabininthewoods.com
Director: Drew Goddard
Writer: Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard
Producer: Joss Whedon
Cast: Richard Jenkins, Bradley Whitford, Jesse Williams, Chris Hemsworth, Fran Kranz, Kristen Connolly, Anna Hutchison, Brian J. White, Amy Acker and Jodelle Ferland


Now Playing

Sorry there are no upcoming showtimes for The Cabin in the Woods


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Sam Eifling

  • Fear and wonder

    'Arrival' makes room for 'linguistic relativity.'
    • Nov 16, 2016
  • Sip it, grip it, rip it

    Dardanelle golf legend John Daly's story next up in ESPN's '30 for 30' series.
    • Oct 27, 2016
  • 'Seven' keeps it simple

    Antoine Fuqua's remake formulaic, but still a crowd-pleaser.
    • Sep 29, 2016
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Gay diamonds

    Scenes from Rodeo in the Rock.
    • May 7, 2015
  • Not much to 'Love'

    In Judd Apatow's new Netflix original series.
    • Feb 25, 2016

Most Shared

  • World leaders set to meet in Little Rock on resource access and sustainable development

    Next week a series of meetings on the use of technology to tackle global problems will be held in Little Rock by Club de Madrid — a coalition of more than 100 former democratic former presidents and prime ministers from around the world — and the P80 Group, a coalition of large public pension and sovereign wealth funds founded by Prince Charles to combat climate change. The conference will discuss deploying existing technologies to increase access to food, water, energy, clean environment, and medical care.
  • Tomb to table: a Christmas feast offered by the residents of Mount Holly and other folk

    Plus, recipes from the Times staff.
  • Rapert compares Bill Clinton to Orval Faubus

    Sen. Jason Rapert (R-Conway)  was on "Capitol View" on KARK, Channel 4, this morning, and among other things that will likely inspire you to yell at your computer screen, he said he expects someone in the legislature to file a bill to do ... something about changing the name of the Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport.
  • Fake news

    So fed up was young Edgar Welch of Salisbury, N.C., that Hillary Clinton was getting away with running a child-sex ring that he grabbed a couple of guns last Sunday, drove 360 miles to the Comet Ping Pong pizzeria in Washington, D.C., where Clinton was supposed to be holding the kids as sex slaves, and fired his AR-15 into the floor to clear the joint of pizza cravers and conduct his own investigation of the pedophilia syndicate of the former first lady, U.S. senator and secretary of state.
  • Reality TV prez

    There is almost nothing real about "reality TV." All but the dullest viewers understand that the dramatic twists and turns on shows like "The Bachelor" or "Celebrity Apprentice" are scripted in advance. More or less like professional wrestling, Donald Trump's previous claim to fame.

Latest in Movie Reviews

Visit Arkansas

View Trumpeter Swans in Heber Springs

View Trumpeter Swans in Heber Springs

Magness Lake, in Heber Springs, is a magnet for swans

Event Calendar

« »


  1 2 3
4 5 6 7 8 9 10
11 12 13 14 15 16 17
18 19 20 21 22 23 24
25 26 27 28 29 30 31

Most Viewed

  • Belk bowling, b-ball

    Before Pearls breaks its brief silent treatment about Razorback basketball's latest bid to shake off listless irrelevance, we'll spend a word or two on the Belk Bowl, where the football team draws a Dec. 29 matchup with Virginia Tech in Charlotte.

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Resurrection, reflection

    • http://hairtransplantncr.com/ hair transplant in delhi hair transplant ncr hair transplant cost hair transplant cost in…

    • on December 8, 2016

© 2016 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation