'Cabin in the Woods' Review: Recycles Tropes for Imaginative Chills
When two guys, two girls, and a nerd set out to party in a creepy cabin deep in the woods, you know in your weary bones what’s going to happen. The only question, at this late date in the history of teen slasher movies, is whether you care.
Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard, the genre-wise writers of "The Cabin in the Woods," are aware of that, and they’ve used this mossy premise to set up a different sort of picture—not so much a parody of the familiar concept as a very clever extension of it. The result is distinctively smart and funny, and pretty brilliant. (It has also been a long time coming: The movie was shot three years ago, then became collateral damage in the financial implosion of MGM before being picked up by Lionsgate.)
The picture announces its fresh intentions right at the top, with an opening scene set in an underground science facility of some sort, where we meet two tie-wearing technicians, Sitterson (Richard Jenkins) and Hadley (Bradley Whitford), as they settle in with their colleagues at a control-room console bristling with dials and levers and multiple video monitors.
Then we cut to the picture’s party-bound youths—five college friends—as they pile into an RV to begin their trip. These characters are pretty much what you would expect (although with some unexpected dimensions). Hunky Curt (Chris Hemsworth) and sexy Jules (Anna Hutchison) are the hot couple; modest Dana (Kristen Connolly) is the virginal sweetie; amiable Holden (Jesse Williams) is the nice guy who’d be just right for her; and motor-mouth Marty (Fran Kranz) is the bong-hitting fifth wheel.
Read the full review at Reason.com