Monday, October 22, 2012

The Cabin in the Woods (2012) - Spicing Up the Recipe

On the Menu: THE CABIN IN THE WOODS (2012)

Ingredients: Chris Hemsworth, Kristen Connolly, Anna Hutchison, Fran Kranz, Jesse Williams, Richard Jenkins, Bradley Whitford, Brian White, Amy Acker, Jodelle Ferland and Sigourney Weaver. Directed by Drew Goddard. Run time: 95 minutes. Rated: R.

At First Bite: I thought this was supposed to be out on DVD months ago, but it was released just a few weeks ago. I made sure to grab it when it did.

Curt (Hemsworth) and his friends take a little vacation to the woods. Apparently, his cousin owns a cabin there.

Meanwhile, two technicians (Jenkins and Whitford) in a control room appear to be keeping tabs on the college kids' every move.

Something weird is going on, for sure.

Tough to Swallow: There are a few continuity issues, e.g., a disappearing football here and a disappearing towel there.

I don't quite understand the point of the elaborate "games." Are we to believe the "Ones" are actually watching?

Opening the film with the twist isn't as effective as having the twist more than halfway through.

Something to Chew On: The film had an estimated budget of $30 million. Its worldwide box office totaled just under $66 million.

This is Goddard's directorial debut.

Goddard co-wrote the film with Joss Whedon. Whedon is also one of the film's producers. Goddard was also a writer for Whedon's "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and "Angel."

There are several horror movie references and homages, including THE EVIL DEAD, HELLRAISER, CUBE, THE SHINING and STEPHEN KING'S IT. A Reaver from Whedon's "Firefly" also makes an appearance.

The theatrical release date of February 5, 2010 was postponed because MGM wanted the film converted to 3D. The 3D release date was to be January 14, 2011, but MGM announced on June 14, 2010 it would be delayed indefinitely due to the studio's financial troubles. MGM filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy five months later. The release date ended up being April 13, 2012.

A tie-in with the PC/Xbox 360 game Left 4 Dead was canceled due to MGM's financial woes, but three of the characters from the game appear in the movie.

Aftertaste: It's difficult to really talk about the movie without spoiling it. Basically, THE CABIN IN THE WOODS is a deconstruction of the horror genre (think BEHIND THE MASK: THE RISE OF LESLIE VERNON or SCREAM or, more recently, TUCKER & DALE VS. EVIL). Why do friends always split up rather than stick together? Why does the virgin always survive? The movie answers these questions and more.

Personally, I prefer watching the technicians' side of things. Jenkins and Whitford provide the most interesting characters, by far.

Is the film too clever for its own good? Perhaps. It's not perfect. There are a few WTF moments that might leave you shaking your head. And, it's funnier than it is scary, which doesn't bode well for a horror flick. But, hey, it's the guy's first shot at directing. He did a respectable job.

What I can say is THE CABIN IN THE WOODS is different. It's nice to get away from torture porn and the never-ending list of horror remakes we see each year.

I think it definitely takes the genre and provides a much-needed kick.


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