All right, horror movie fans. Fasten your bloody seatbelts because a visit to “The Cabin in the Woods” will take you to places where no horror film has gone before. Indeed this movie will suck you in, chew you up, and spit you out as a breathless mess wondering what in the hell just hit you.
Writing about a film like this presents a real challenge because so much of it is dependant on the surprise factor. Therefore, I must be very careful not to give away too much, or the entire movie will lose its impact. Thus, if the following plot summary seems a bit nebulous, it is so intended because I want you to be as bemused, shocked, stunned, and surprised as I was.
After an introductory segment that won’t make any sense until later on in the movie, we meet Dana (Kristen Connelly), Curt (Chris Hemsworth), Jules (Anna Hutchinson), Holden (Jesse Williams), and Marty (Fran Kranz), five college students who pile into a camper for a trip to a secluded cabin in the woods. At this point you’re thinking, this all seems very familiar. What immediately came to my mind was Camp Crystal Lake in 1980, when I first encountered the lovely character of Jason Voorhees. And for a time, you may think you’ve seen this whole thing before.
When our travelers arrive at their destination after an encounter with a gas station attendant straight out of “Deliverance,” they are thrilled with the charm of the place. It is located on a lake, and after they all get unpacked, they enjoy a nice swim and then settle in for a cozy game of “Truth or Dare.” But shortly thereafter, their quiet retreat turns into a mega nightmare that you really have to see to believe.
Now I have seen a lot of horror movies in my day, but I can honestly say that I have never watched anything quite like what unfolds as this one progresses. Can I be more specific? Yes. Will I be? No. I refuse to spoil this for you, but I will tell you this. What occurs when things get rolling in this movie makes the events at Crystal Lake look like a scene from “Mary Poppins.” In fact, if Jason were encounter what these college students do, he would tuck his mask under his arm and run for the safety of Crystal Lake.
Now I must admit that when the denouement finally becomes clear, it was a real stretch for me to accept it. But I was willing to suspend my disbelief because the film is so bizarrely original, and it achieves a marvelous blend of horror. It also features some of the most spectacular CGI special effects I’ve ever seen on the big screen.
Those who have weak stomachs or those who are offended by profanity and nudity should skip this film because it is rife with both. The profanity includes more than 30 instances of the dreaded F-bomb, and the violence and gore are extremely graphic. Nevertheless, this is a truly unique horror film to say the least. In the movie’s production notes, first-time director Drew Goddard explained his concept of the film.
“On one level, ‘Cabin’ functions as your classic horror film. It’s the sort of movie where you grab your popcorn and hold your date tight while you watch five teenagers head to the woods and encounter terrible things. But it’s also our version of that type of movie. Which means things get a lot more insane than you might expect.
“The horror movie is merely the jumping-off point for the inherent questions about humanity that the genre suggests. Why, as a people, do we feel the need to marginalize, objectify, and destroy youth? And this is not specific to the genre, or movies in general, or our present-day culture. We’ve been doing this to youth since we first began as a people. And this question — the question of why — is very much at the heart of ‘Cabin.’”
Also in the production notes, Hemsworth, who reprises his role of Thor in the upcoming production of “The Avengers” opening this weekend, offered some interesting insight as to what attracted him to the film.
“At first I thought, ‘Oh, this is a regular horror movie. I don’t get it.’ And then it just continued to unfold and open up and blow me away every page. It just got crazier and crazier and crazier until – well, until never. It just doesn’t stop. It leads you down a path that seems recognizable, and slowly it completely subverts everything you know.”
Because of its refreshing originality and its undeniable magnetism that rivets your eyes to the screen, this film receives a final score of eight. Trust me when I tell you that you have never seen anything quite like it before, and after you travel to “The Cabin in the Woods,” you will never again view horror films in quite the same way.