Cabin in the Woods is directorial debut from Drew Goddard. He has most notably worked as a writer on Angel, Buffy and Lost. Co-written with Joss Whedon, Cabin in the Woods manages to apply the same elements of intrigue and playfulness. From the outset it is established that this isn’t just a run of the mill horror.
It is hard not to talk about this movie in depth without giving away it’s uniqueness, which you can tell is probably an absolute nightmare to market. The less you know the better the surprise. Conversely those up on their horror knowledge will be able to enjoy the way that every element is a clever play on the rules we usually see applied to most films in the genre.
We have the standard formula for a losing cast, the blonde (Anna Hutchinson), the jock (Chris Hemsworth), the innocent girl (Kristen Connolly) and the stoner (Fran Kranz). They go on a retreat to a ‘cabin in the woods’ where they are beset upon by evil things. What is clever though is the way in which these characters are created and manipulated, the audience is made to participate and Goddard actually manages to make you oddly accept the deaths with understanding as a chain of necessary events.
Cabin in the Woods has managed to create an offshoot of meta-horror. Surprisingly there is a lot of humor interspersed; but fans of the Buffy TV series should be familiar with this. Forget what you think you can second guess because you are probably wrong. This is a refreshing change, but it is not without it’s flaws. The casts generic feel is a little grating at times, but understandably as this is exactly how they’re meant to play out. The ending may feel short changed but is bold and one I see as an intelligent slight on the half of the audience who groan that it is unacceptable.