Finally! After gestating in development hell or whatever over at MGM during its bankruptcy, Lionsgate managed to get distribution rights to this film and — voila! — three years later, the lovechild of Joss Whedon (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Firefly) and Drew Goddard (Cloverfield, Lost, and also Buffy) has finally been released.
In the words of Whedon, The Cabin in the Woods (2012) is “basically a very loving hate letter” to the horror genre. The Cabin in the Woods isn’t particularly scare-driven or squirm-inducing, but it’s sure as hell one of the wittiest and most intelligent horror movies to grace the big screen in recent years. Like Scream, its most obvious po-mo horror predecessor, it’s full of self-aware jibes and tropes that any horror fan can recognize and revel in.
If you’ve seen a horror movie since 1978, you know the basic framework: a bunch of sexy college coeds — a jock, a nerd, a slut, a virgin, and, of course, a stoner — head to a secluded cabin and, in short order, shit goes down. But if you’re looking for a cookie-cutter rendition, you won’t find it here. Sure, all the regular players are there, and it certainly meets both its sexy and macabre requirements, but it goes much farther than that. It’s about the creation and process of horror, and the degree to which an audience (that would be you) is complicit in whatever horrible things happen to the people on the screen.
By turns weird, hilarious, gory, and surprising, The Cabin in the Woods is a full-throttle exercise in the deconstruction of genre. To say too much is to spoil the surprises, but suffice it to say this is the must-see horror movie of the year. Then, even when all the surprises are over, it begs you to start at the beginning and watch it play out, again and again.