***WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD!***

Filmed in 2009, Cabin in the Woods hit delay after delay and finally saw its release recently, three years later. Was it worth the wait?

The majority of the film takes place, rather unsurprisingly, at a Cabin in the Woods. Five friends go for a weekend trip to a cabin in the woods but soon find out that all is not as it seems with this innocent looking little shack. Working together, the group must find out what is the truth about the cabin in the woods.

The cast of the film is relatively unrecognisable to mainstream cinema audiences. The most famous member of the protagonist group is Chris Hemsworth who was pretty much unknown himself at the time of filming but has since rose to international fame with Thor whilst the only real star of the cast is Sigourney Weaver and her part is just a cameo really. The rest of the cast features Kristen Connolly, Anna Hutchinson, Fran Kranz and Richard Jenkins.

There is a lot to enjoy about Cabin in the Woods. I have read a few blogs that have described this film as being a reinvention or a revitalization of the horror genre, I disagree. Instead of being any of these, I think that Cabin in the Woods is a critique and a very clever pulling apart of the genre, something which Joss Whedon (producer) wanted to do as him and Drew Goddard (director) set out to do.

Lots of common elements of horror films are exaggerated and emphasised within Cabin in the Woods. Starting with the characters, the story of the ritual which the organisation of the film are trying to carry out requires five very different types of people: the athlete, the dumb blonde, the stoner/fool, the academic, the virgin. Sound familiar? These are stereotypes that can be found in most, if not all, horror films.

The 'monster board' from Cabin in the Woods

The fact that the organisation takes bets on which monster will be set loose to kill the five teenagers offers a lot more references to horror movies, from the curse the teenagers unknowingly decide upon to the monsters that it could be; aliens, killer clowns, mermen, jack o’ lantern, vampires and werewolves.

As well as the deep critique of the horror genre there is also a lot to enjoy on the surface of the film. The first two acts build up the characters and the idea of the organisation behind it all, whilst the third act really gets the blood pumping and is really quite exciting. Watching the third act makes it clear why the cast is pretty unknown and locations are limited: their entire budget went on the action scenes during the last half an hour. It is a budget well spent as the monsters and the havoc they reap really becomes real at the end of the film.

Unfortunately, I think a lot of the horror is lost from the film because of what it is trying to accomplish. By this, I mean that the main thing that makes horror work, for me, is the sense of ‘not knowing’, the tension and suspense growing throughout the film because we, the audience, know just as much as the protagonist and nothing more. Here, though, because we are placed inside the organisation from the off, the suspense and tension cannot be created. We are told, pretty much, or it is hinted at largely, what is going to happen to the five teenagers before it happens. While there are still a couple of moments to make you jump, it is not something I would call scary.

Overall, there is a lot to enjoy for film fans of all ages and experiences in Cabin in the Woods. It’s something very new and very original at a time where reboots, remakes and sequels are prominent in cinemas. Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard have created something very clever here and well deserve credit for it.

My Rating: 7/10.

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