DVD Review: The Cabin in the Woods

Review by Toby Lattimore

The Cabin in the Woods (15)

There has been a lot of press coverage regarding this supposedly typical horror, with suitable name and twisted poster showing a grim cabin, where horror might commence. But this unexpected film is co-written by Joss Whedon, sci-fi and fantasy master scribe, and so there was always going to be an added science fiction element. But where could this come from when dealing with your standard slasher in the woods horror?

From the beginning it is apparent that perhaps there is something quirky about Cabin in the Woods. Rather than the stereotypical ‘teenagers preparing for a road trip’ opening sequence we are confronted with some kind of science laboratory or technical institute. Then a hard hitting title sequence which smacks of a Carry On film rather than a gruesomely atmospheric frontispiece to a spooky horror. Not all as it would seem.

The group of young adults are in trouble. The little know Kristen Connolly steps up as the lead female, Dana Polk, and yet somehow steps back into the shadows, her presence weak. Chris Hemsworth (Thor) as Curt does well, doesn’t need a surname and can’t help but dominate a group of lacklustre victims, yet is soon dispatched. Anna Hutchison and Jesse Williams appear and disappear, whereas the geeky Fran Kranz is more memorable as the one who has enough brains recognise the trap the group have found themselves in.

There is plenty of gore and psychological terror in this action-packed horror/thriller/sci-fi. Experienced TV Director Drew Goddard churns ups a cauldron of dark filmic references but surprisingly the strength of this story, other than its unpredictable nature, comes from the two control room operators Richard Jenkins and Bradley Whitford. Their deadpan, unmoving behaviour followed up by high fives and slapstick moralistic judgements is hard to fathom until you realise they may well have the fate of the world in their hands.