Monday, September 17, 2012

The Cabin in the Woods (Drew Goddard)

The cabin.

Now this is a big surprise. "The Cabin in the Woods", a film with zero hype, has unexpectedly turned out to be the best horror film that I have seen in a relatively long time because of the fact that it was not afraid to satirically articulate the numerous shortcomings of the horror genre while still being damn disturbing at the same time. I was highly impressed. 

The film, directed by Drew Goddard and written by Joss Whedon, is a true breath of fresh air in terms of vision and is also a tongue-in-cheek descent into the inner workings of the horror genre. Though some may be frustrated by the film's unconventionality, utter preposterousness and satirical intent, "The Cabin in the Woods", no matter where you may look at it, is pure horror entertainment. It's a half-serious genre pastiche directed towards the cliché-infested, 'more miss than hit' genre, but no one can deny the fact that it's also a glimmering tribute to its bloody wonders. Right now, I think it's fair for me to say that my faith in modern horror films, as of the moment, is once again restored. 
On top the film's cast of relative unknowns is actor Chris Hemsworth of "Thor" fame, whose character in the film, as far as horror movies are concerned, is that of the quintessential sports jock. To complete the line-up, we also have the dumb blonde (Anna Hutchison), the well-intentioned scholar (Jesse Williams), the comic stoner (Fran Kranz) and finally, the virginal heroine (Kristen Connolly). There's also Richard Jenkins and Bradley Whitford, whose roles as the fun-loving and highly desensitized technicians of the so-called 'system' are particularly memorable and also humorously potent. 
By making these five (the jock, the blonde, the scholar, the stoner and the virgin) act in a way that's irritatingly and irrationally familiar (their questionable preference to have sex deep within the woods in the middle of the night, for example), Goddard and Whedon were able to poke fun at the stereotypical character blueprints of a usual horror film (specifically the 'slashers') and were also able to express their take as to why it's always the jocks and the blondes et al. who are always on the receiving end of anything sharp and fatal. You'll definitely be surprised.  
Disguised as something disgustingly clichéd almost until the halfway mark, "The Cabin in the Woods" then suddenly lambasts you (and unapologetic at that) with the true nature of its narrative and, in the end, the beauty of its entertainingly theoretical take on why horror films seem to have a recurring blueprint. This is imagination at the height of bizarre audacity and vision at its wildest. You just have to see it for yourself. 
But aside from that, "The Cabin in the Woods", with its ambition and exaggerated vision, is also a testament of ingenious writing. Initially, I thought that nothing would ever come out of the horror genre ever again that hasn't been done before. I also thought that however original a horror film may strive to be, it will still come back to its formulaic roots one way or another. Well, I guess I was wrong. 
Writer Joss Whedon, although he has already proven his worth by directing that little film called "The Avengers", has shown here in "The Cabin in the Woods" that his capabilities both as a writer and director extend far beyond the trappings of costumed superheroes and whatnot. By way of this film, he has solidified himself as a pure creative force comparable to the earlier, more mischievous days of both Sam Raimi and Peter Jackson.   
"The Cabin in the Woods", a true sleeper hit, is one of the best and most entertaining horror films to come out for quite a while. It's a self-conscious horror masterwork in the same fashion as that of Wes Craven's "New Nightmare" and as gut-churning as Vincenzo Natali's "Cube". Who would have thought that a film mainly about a cabin, some Latin spells and a bunch of disposable lads and lasses would be able to encompass the horror genre's whole thematic plateau in such a way that's both thought-provoking and fun? The creators of "The Cabin in the Woods" have, and the result is an ingenious horror film that's surely destined to be a cult classic.


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