Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The Cabin in the Woods

Genre: Horror
Premise: A twisted and unusual take on the familiar "cabin in the woods" formula. Comes out next February.
Writers: Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard

One of the many great posters for "The Cabin in the Woods"

If there's one genre that has the least respect at the moment, it's horror. Hollywood churns out dozens of horror films a year, and you'll be lucky to find one that's actually good. So I was very excited to pick up this script. I'm a fan of Whedon, and after Cloverfield, Goddard was definitely on my radar. So what did I think?

The Cabin in the Woods starts off with five friends. Whedon and Goddard are going for a horror parody here. So it's pretty cliche', but it works and there's a purpose for it that I won't spoil. Anyway, there's Curt the "jock"; Jules, his girlfriend, the "whore"; Holden, the "scholar"; Marty, the "fool"; and Dana, the "virgin". They're all headed toward's Curt's cousins lakehouse. Which is, you guessed it, a cabin in the woods. Along the way they stop for gas, que creepy and disgusting clerk who warns them about the cabin, but of course they ignore him.

While this is happening we meet a bunch of people in some sort of lab. We don't know what they're up to, but it involves our main characters. Once our heroes reach the cabin, we find out that these people are a part of some mysterious corporation who purposefully brought this group of people to the cabin to die. This is where things get complicated. This corporation, whatever they are, have been planning this for a while. There is also some type of magical force that looms around the cabin that the corporation uses to do it's killing.

Our heroes make their way to the cabin's basement. Unfortunately, this is all part of the corporation's plan. Inside the basement there are an assortment of random items. We find out that whichever of these items our heroes pick, triggers how they will die. They unknowingly pick a diary. The diary is of a girl named Patience Buckner who lived in the house a century ago. This is a sick family, and we even get a tip of some sort of torture chamber. Then there's a Latin passage, that stoner Marty warns everyone not to read. You can guess what happens next. That's right, lead heroine Dana reads this Latin phrase aloud and we cut to the woods where a zombified Buckner family rises from the ground, looking for something to kill.

Through security cameras, the employees of the corporation watch as our main characters are picked off one by one. When our heroes finally get an upperhand on the zombies, the employees screw things up even more. It's really a great concept. There's no hope for our characters, so we're left wondering what their next move will be. We're also wondering why this organization has to kill people, and how the hell do they have the power to make creatures carry out their wishes. (even though our heroes face zombies, we are told of all the other sinister options that could have been their fate.)

And then we have out ending. I won't spoil it for you, but it will definitely draw a line. You're either going to love it or hate it. Me? I wasn't that big of a fan. I thought it didn't mesh well at all with the rest of the script, and was just one big WTF moment.

There is one thing I really really liked that Whedon and Goddard incorporated into the script. In your average horror movie, the characters are so stupid, they get themselves into situations that they basically deserve to be killed off. In this movie, our characters have been drugged by the organization, and it makes them get into sticky situations. For instance, after finding out about the zombies outside, Curt runs in and tells everyone to lock the doors and windows, and that they need to stick together. All the labrats need to do is release some gas to alter his judgement, and everyone agrees it'd be best if they all split up.

Overall, I really liked Cabin in the Woods up until the final act. Before that point was a great horror movie that parodies itself and had a great mystery surrounding it. I was just not a fan of the ending. It left a lot of questions, and was just to much of a WTF moment that didn't mesh with the rest of the script. But overlooking that, it was smart, great dialogue, some actual scares, and great characters. Whedon and Goddard knew what they were doing and what they wanted, but I'm worried the ending may be a little too out there for people who aren't already fans of their work.

[] Somebody should be fired
[] Bad
[] Mediocre
[x] Worth the read
[] Great
[] Amazing

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