COURTESY OF DIYAH PERAH
Once every decade you find that genre-defining movie that impresses people so much that they rant and rave till the cows come home.
Well, “The Cabin in the Woods,” from the minds of Drew Goddard (“Cloverfield”) and Joss Whedon (“Firefly,” “Serenity,” “Buffy: The Vampire Slayer”), happens to be that kind of movie.
It’s enthralling and terrifying all at once and will certainly be one of those films that is referenced as inspiration to kids of all ages who are just being introduced to the horror and thriller genres.
Without being a spoiler, “Cabin” begins with a group of college kids preparing for a road trip, à la “Friday the 13th.” Each character is what you would expect from a generic horror movie — the hot blond (who is a pre-med student), the athlete (who is a sociology major that knows about philosophers dead and gone), the stoner (who provides comic relief, and yet still manages to keep a modicum of lucidity), the academic (who is the quiet and reserved type) and the young, innocent shy girl.
These roles are played excellently by the principal cast of Chris Hemsworth, (who looks to have a pre-“Thor” muscle build), Kristen Connelly (“As the World Turns”), Franz Kranz (a Whedon regular actor from the TV series “Dollhouse”) Anna Hutchison (“Go Girls”) and Jesse Williams (“Grey’s Anatomy”).
The audience is introduced to an agency that watches the characters as they progress like lambs toward the slaughter. Tiptoeing around the twist, and without explaining exactly what happens, the movie focuses naught on what goes bump in the night, but rather why that bump happened in the first place.
Richard Jenkins (“Let Me In,”) and Bradley Whitford (“Scent of a Woman”) play the puppet masters, who work for a shady agency and set about the various pratfalls and traps that the teens have to muddle through.
The movie progresses with the speed of a bullet train, and the twists and turns that the story takes are both unexpected and beautiful; ultimately leading to what will surely be one of the most memorable climaxes for moviegoers in recent memory. And there’s sure to be one surprise cameo that people will be pleased to see.
Whedon and Goddard’s script is top notch, featuring engaging and witty dialogue and a story that is thrilling and refreshing. The score, by David Julyan, evokes the natural brass terrors of monster movies like “Hellraiser” and the special make up effects are a throwback to those of Don Baker, such as “The Exorcist” and “An American Werewolf in London.”
The cabin itself plays a character in the film, and is likely to remind viewers of the cabin from the “Evil Dead.” It’s clear that both Whedon and Goddard have a reverence for the genre, as they not only provide a sort of refresher about what makes this genre great (it’s chock full of references in which die-hards will surely take delight), but they also examine and break down the tropes of modern horror films.
Move over “Scream”: a new genre-satirizing bad boy is in town.