“You don’t know the story,” that’s the tag line for The Cabin in the Woods. So I’m like, “Oh, ok first time feature director Drew Goddard, show me what you got!” So I sit down in a theater full of critics and take in this film only to find that he was right. Now, be warned this film is best viewed without knowing too much about it. I didn’t know the story and I think that’s what makes it the most fun. The trailer hints at what’s going on but doesn’t tell you too much about the tale. I’ll go into some detail here, but you will still be amazingly surprised! If you want to avoid any potential spoilers, stop reading now. It’s best to see this film without too much information going into it. Even if you do read some spoilers, you must see Cabin in the Woods!
Now just because you don’t know the story doesn’t mean it’s not familiar. We open with a group of very good looking young adults, all with traditional horror movie character types. You have the slut Jules (Anna Hutchison), her jock boyfriend Curt (Chris Hemsworth a.k.a. Thor), the good-looking “virgin” Dana (Kristen Connolly), the braniac Holden (Jesse Williams of Grey’s Anatomy) and the pot head Marty (Fran Kranz from Donnie Darko). They have a break from school so they are going to get away from the world and take a trip up to the cabin in the woods that their family recently acquired. Are we thinking “cliché!” yet? That’s just what they want you to think! Damn puppeteers!
Now we also have a side story developing here. A couple of working stiffs, Hadley (Bradley Whitford) and Sitterson (Richard Jenkins) are going through typical water-cooler conversation. They are talking about making bets on something and are giving other coworkers a hard time. Then we cut back to the kids who confront a crazy looking hillbilly who runs the Fontier Land-type gas station on the way to the cabin. He pretty much tells them they are going to die, but they don’t pay much attention to him. They just head out to the cabin in hopes of having some fun.
Once this group gets to the cabin they start to unpack and get ready to have a good time. We then see that Hadley and Sitterson can see and hear everything that’s going on in the Cabin. They are in a very elaborate control room with multiple screens and monitors that show them everything in the cabin and the woods surrounding it. Through conversation in the room we learn that the control room is where all of the terror this group is about to face is controlled. And for those who are worried about the moral implications there is a newbie in the room who brings it up where it is immediately shot down. The one thing we learn from his concerns is that the kids make the choice to go into the cellar and they choose their own deaths.
The reason you don’t know this story is because it’s multi-faceted and I don’t think it’s ever been done before. Cabin in the Woods pays great homage to a ton of horror stories and films. Its quick-witted and a ton of fun. The way the story builds upon itself and cuts back and forth between the cabin and the control room is done really well. Not to mention we also see some great cinematography and amazing visual effects. The casting was incredible and everybody in the film seemed to work very well together. I would recommend anyone who has ever enjoyed a horror film see this and see it the first chance you get.