This Joss Whedon horror flick is gory, fun, unpredictable - just don't let anybody ruin the ending for you if you haven't seen it....
Lionsgate / 105 Minutes / 2012 / Rated R / Street Date: September 18, 2012
Don't listen to anybody who wants to talk about The Cabin in the Woods before you get a chance to see the thing. In our modern age where you can do a Google search and know the exact plot and representation of the film of your choice in less than five seconds, when a movie as purposefully anti-expectation as The Cabin in the Woods takes on added value. In short, it's unlikely you'll see the ending coming.
The term 'anti-expectation' isn't exactly fair, though, because it's rampantly clear that writer Joss Whedon and director Drew Goddard know what kind of genre rhetoric they're spearing here. The Cabin in the Woods is a movie that has done its homework, that knows its references, that revels responsibly in its in-jokes and purposed ironies. The movie completely deteriorates if one thinks about it too much - most horror flicks tend to be in this category - but while it's happening, it provides that rare "Did that really just happen?" mind-zap that is so woefully rare in today's multiplexes.
I'm not going to even dance around the edges of The Cabin in the Woods' labyrinthine narrative context. Let's just say there are lab workers (Richard Jenkins and Bradley Whitford) and a group of horny teens who head off for a hedonistic trip to... guess! Relationships are formed, women scream, things get gored, beasties from this dimension (or beyond...) lurk in the darkness - The Cabin in the Woods is absolutely a horror film and follows that genre's rules honorably, but by its end it switches around a couple things significantly.
The Cabin in the Woods may not have a high rewatchability factor - as fun as it is, it feels like one-and-done viewing experience - but in 2012, a year that has brought intense acclaim and $$$ to Joss Whedon and his projects, this brainy slasher flick provides a weirdly exciting shared viewer hallucination. It may not work on all fronts, but as it unfolds, it's brazen and outrageous enough to definitely keep you on your toes.