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Review: Cabin in the Woods — Been there, haven’t done THAT!

Cabin in the WoodsThe Cabin in the Woods is a riddle shrouded in a mystery and wrapped inside an enigma, and I’m not just describing the movie, I’m also talking about the puzzle of trying to review this film without giving away its many secrets. This movie is actually crazier than anything I can possibly describe and it is an immensely entertaining tribute to the horror movie genre and a love letter to fans of classic horror films.

A group of college kids pack-up an RV and head into the mountains for a weekend at a cousin’s lakeside cabin. The vacationing crew includes a stereotypical collection of the jock (Chris Hemsworth in a less buff, pre-Thor role), the smart guy (Jesse Williams), the stoner (Fran Kranz), the slutty girl (Anna Hutchison) and the wholesome girl-next-door (Kristen Connolly).  They all arrive at a very familiar looking cabin in the woods where we soon find that nothing is as it appears to be.

The film lets you know early on that you are in for a very different kind of journey when it reveals the work-a-day world of what appears to be some sort of cryptic agency that is remotely directing the young group toward their demise. First-time director Drew Goddard [Nerdvana interview here — http://evtnow.com/2mn] slowly unveils the inner-workings of this organization and what they are up to, always revealing just enough to keep you hooked and anxiously anticipating what will happen next.

Richard Jenkins and Bradley Whitford play very humorous roles as mid-level managers of this underground agency and what they are responsible for is one of the many secrets in the film. To say too much about how this all goes down would be to ruin all the fun, but suffice it to say that you are in for an unimaginably wild ride that surprises at almost every turn – and there are a lot of turns.

The Cabin in the Woods was co-written by its director Drew Goddard and Joss Whedon who also teamed together on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and this movie offers the same fresh elements of frightful fun and has the proclivity towards the peculiar of their earlier work together. This film was finished in 2009 but has been juggled around for a couple of years due to an attempt to convert it to 3D and MGM Studio’s bankruptcy. This type of postponement for a film’s release is often a bad sign of things to come, but in this case it has nothing to do with the quality of the movie, which is one of the best so far this year.

While this movie is a very successful & unique horror film in its own right, it is an unabashed salute to the fright films of the ’70s and ’80s like Evil Dead, American Werewolf in London and Hellraiser and it incorporates the mythology of dozens of those films into its story. I could not keep up with the swarm of references in this movie and I challenge the greatest horror geeks out there to try to keep track. The Cabin in the Woods is a “must-see” many times over for fans of this film genre, as it will take several viewings to recognize all of the cool cinematic connections in this cabin.

Goddard and Whedon have made a film that is immensely better than any of the “torture porn” trite that the horror film industry has turned to in the past decade with films like the Saw series and The Human Centipede, and they have accomplished the feat of creating a film that is completely original while at the same time a loving nod to a multitude of macabre movies.  The Cabin in the Woods is one of the bloodiest and craziest movies you are likely to see, but it’s all done in horrifyingly good fun.

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About the author

Bob Leeper

Bob Leeper is the co-owner and manager of "Arizona’s Pop Culture and Alternative Art Network," Evermore Nevermore. He is the co-creator of the pop culture events Steampunk Street and ENCREDICON, and is a member of the Phoenix Film Critics Society. He also curates the Facebook fan site The Arizona Cave – AZ Fans of Edgar Rice Burroughs, and is one of the few brave and bold fans of Jar Jar Binks.