Drew Goddard’s long-awaited horror, The Cabin in the Woods, written by Goddard and Joss Whedon has finally been unleashed on UK screens following a series of delays. But while the long wait of around 18 months has done wonders for the initial reactions to the film, the reality is that Goddard and Whedon have created a visually stimulating, if not disappointing attempt to deconstruct the seminal slasher movie.
The film follows five young students (Kristen Connolly, Chris Hemsworth, Anna Hutchison, Fran Kranz and Jesse Williams) as they travel to and party in a mysterious cabin in the middle of the woods in deepest, darkest USA. But as the alcohol flows, a trip down to the basement unleashes a series of horrors that begin to pick them off one by one.
When a film is called The Cabin in the Woods, it’s natural to assume that it will fill a number of horror criteria. First of all there will be a creepy old cabin, it will be in the heart of the great American wilderness, which will be run by over-zealous religious bigots and the whole area will not be serviced by modern technology. There will also be teenagers, pretty, pretty teenagers with a lack of inhibitions, morals, concerned parents, but they will have a lot of alcohol. In that sense, by calling the film The Cabin in the Woods, Goddard and Whedon are explicitly aware of the limitations of this genre, and are attempting to deconstruct this type of horror film by naming it thusly.
However, their attempts, while obviously rife with clichés, stereotypes and some comedy, simply don’t elevate this film to the level of hype that its managed to generate. It’s unclear whether the film pays homage to certain genre-defining creations, such as Hellraiser, IT and The Evil Dead, or simply rips off certain aspects of them for brief moments of gory CGI death and destruction. Horror is a genre that many try and fail to do, and while The Cabin in the Woods has all the right ingredients, and a decent idea of how to use them, with a few uninspired twits thrown in, the real problem with this film is the lack of heart, of soul, of genuine claustrophobia and terror that make horror so respected. This film is not a game changer, and it should not be treated as such. It’s an average horror flick with good intentions, but hollow results.
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