New Release: 'The Cabin in the Woods'
A love letter to horror movies from Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard
"The Cabin in the Woods" (Lionsgate) – There's more knowing horror comedy and meta-horror commentary than actual tension and thrills in the self-aware, awfully clever love letter to the horror movie fandom from Drew Goddard and Joss Whedon. That's fair, because scares or not, I had more fun watching "Cabin" than almost any other film this year.
See an exclusive Blu-ray clip below
Whedon, producer and co-writer, first established his fan credentials with "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," a self-aware, pop-culture strewn horror show in weekly installments, but he and co-writer Goddard, a "Buffy" writer making his directorial debut, take a different approach here. No spoilers, just in case you've managed to steer clear of them so far, but the first scene isn't about the five kids headed off for a weekend in the haunted woods. It begins with the quip-laden banter of lab-coat technicians (Richard Jenkins and Bradley Whitford) as they head to work in their quasi corporate bunker culture. That work has something to do with the kids' weekend plans, and the rest of the film shows us just what and why that is.
As far as the fresh meat college kids go, keep an eye out for the handsome young guy playing Curt, the smarter-than-he-lets-on football player. Back in 2009, when the film was made (release was delayed by the bankruptcy of MGM, which produced the film), Chris Hemsworth was an up and coming actor with a lot of promise. Now he's Thor. And he's still upstaged by Fran Kranz as the twitch stoner Marty, who makes the case that just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they aren't out to get you.
Unabashed horror movie fans Whedon and Goddard let their monster mash impulses go wild, riffing on every "kids in the woods tormented by supernatural killers" film ever made (with special affection for the "Evil Dead" films) before launching into a pulp rumination on our need for scary stories as a kind of ritual.
Which is not to say it's pretentious or, you know, particularly intellectual. It's just clever, a fun riff on the clichés, conventions, and expectations of American horror movies. That it tries to make sense of all the bad decisions and unbelievable coincidences that drive the stories, and mostly succeeds, is just part of the fun.
More from MSN film critic Glenn Kenny here.
The Blu-ray and DVD both feature a very enjoyable commentary track by writer/director Drew Goddard and writer/producer Joss Whedon, who have a grand time revisiting the film (it was recorded fairly recently) and geeking out over the monsters, and three featurettes: "We Are Not Who We Are: Making The Cabin in the Woods," "An Army of Nightmares: Make-Up & Animatronic Effects," and "Primal Terror: Visual Effects."
Here's an MSN exclusive Blu-ray clip from featurettes.
There's also footage of a Q&A with Whedon and Goddard at Wonder-Con and "The Secret Secret Stash," which offers two additional little pieces: a tour of the set from Joss Whedon and a brief interview with actor Fran Kranz. Both Blu-ray and DVD editions come with a digital copy (which you can download from iTunes) and an Ultraviolet digital copy for instant streaming.
Exclusive to the Blu-ray is the BonusView mode, the Lionsgate answer to the picture-in-picture audio/video commentary option with interview and behind-the-scenes clips popping up in a corner of the screen.
Also available On Demand and via digital download (the latter with the Wonder-Con Q&A clip), and at Redbox.
This guy that works at DISH with me said I had to see Cabin in the Woods, but would not tell me why. I got it from Blockbuster at Home expecting a horror movie and got something that would certifiably fit in its own genre. I had no idea some one could bash cliché horror movies so thoroughly or so beautifully. The whole thing was just terribly clever. And if that weren’t enough, the whole thing was visually stunning. I rented it in blu-ray since there is on price difference and you can tell that that is how it was meant to be seen.