By: Addison Wylie
Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard. Two respected names and two crazily creative people currently in the film industry. I like these guys so much, but as I try to figure out a way to properly review The Cabin in the Woods (a movie they both wrote), the imaginative team is bugging me and sitting back with crossed arms as they watch critics walk a thin tightrope.
These two have written a script that hits so many bases, is filled with so much love for different genres, and is a blast from start to finish. It’s a marvellous script paired up with Goddard’s admirable direction and it would be a crime to start naming things that happen and surprise us in the movie; especially during its insane climax.
So, sorry but while this review is still barely out of the gates, I refuse to give any sort of a synopsis about the movie. Some of you may be upset at that, some may be relieved. Either way, when you sit down in the theatre filled with patrons expecting a straight forward Horror, you’ll be thankful about how little you knew about it beforehand.
What I can say is that there are a lot of mysterious elements about the film that eventually all build towards a geekily operatic showcase.
Whedon has had plenty of experience building up a niche fanbase and creating projects that are moreorless “against the grain”. Goddard has been involved with Whedon in the past and was made famous by his involvement in Cloverfield.
Both are very aware of how unoriginality plagues most projects nowadays and they have made it their mission to catch movie goers off guard with something that is unusual and amusing but doesn’t completely “jump the shark”. They know how to properly develop characters while injecting plenty of humour while they’re at it. All those notes are in full force with this latest vehicle.
We start off with five characters. They are all teen cliches out of that same-old Horror film we’ve all grown to know. However, even though these personas are run-of-the-mill, Whedon and Goddard’s sense of timing, they’re unsmug look at Horror tropes, and that aforementioned ability to make situations funny and interesting breath life into this seemingly old hat.
The dialogue has a lot of winning lines and deliveries. Fran Kranz, who plays Marty the stoner doofus, will be the character everyone will surely remember. His readings are all perfectly crafted. The writing duo may have given him one too many sarcastic quips but this is a memorable character nonetheless.
As freaky things start to happen and key characters begin to disappear or appear bloodied, that mystery comes into play even more. Whedon and Goddard know their audiences will stick to the very end to figure out what everything means, therefore, everything is kept at sparse detail until the wrap-up.
This may be something that separates the audiences’ interest. This is definitely not a movie where every single thing is directly spelt out come the halfway point and some people, unfortunately, may not be willing to go the extra mile to find where all the pieces fit.
I hope those patrons stick it out though, because when plot points are explained during the conclusion, it’s something we never expected and that feeling of figuring out how everything clicks is very fulfilling.
I appreciated how the film took lots of risks and was willing to segue into different genres, however, there are some elements of the story that aren’t explained to the fullest (and they should be) and the ending feels like the film is angry but we can’t figure out why. Is the frustration aimed towards filmmakers not willing to take risks? Is the middle finger directed at movies who aren’t willing to end things on the notes this one does?
In the future I’ll remember those notes I had for the ending, but so much more in The Cabin in the Woods outshines those blemishes. It was the first time in a very long time where I had no idea what to expect next. I was scared, I was laughing, I was glued, and even though these reactions were recurring, I still had no idea what to feel come the next scene. Few filmmakers have been able to pull this off effectively and Whedon and Goddard have done it without breaking a sweat.
It’s going to be really interesting to see how The Cabin in the Woods performs with a mainstream audience. Even if people are weary of checking it out, I really, really, really hope they give it a chance.