<Review by: Sailesh Ghelani>
Directed by Drew Goddard. Starring Kristen Connolly, Chris Hemsworth, Fran Kranz.
This much-touted spook fest written by sci-fi maven Joss Whedon has all the clichés but with a twist. Unfortunately what may be seen as an innovative take on horror films is really just a silly spoof on the genre with no frights, only a bit of foolery.
From almost the start of this film you realise that this isn’t your regular film about horny teenagers heading off on road trip to some secluded place to do drugs and deflower virgins. A covert government agency-type organisation is following their every move. But why? Right from the secluded area cordoned off by a force field to the camera and booby trap-infested cabin, everything has been pre-planned to create fear and ultimately death.
The creaking doors, the animal heads mounted on the wall, the creepy basement, the old pictures, the music box, the lake by the cabin, they’re all established trademarks of a slasher film. This is done deliberately, partly to mock the genre and partly to further the film’s premise: that of an agency (one of many worldwide) orchestrating scary, deathly situations where one by one, the young adventure-seekers are hacked off. And in The Truman Show-like fashion they are watched, manipulated, and even have some bets placed on them by these mysterious men and women who must carry out this dastardly but essential ritual every year.
Killer Zombies quickly make short shrift of the horny campers but that’s not really the fun part. The intrigue lies in what is going on behind the scenes. You learn there’s a sacrifice that has to be made to appease some ‘ancient gods below’. That’s all I’m giving away.
Interesting concept, trying to show us that in actuality, all the ghost movies and horror films we’ve seen are actually just elaborate but deathly hoaxes. But this soon deteriorates into a farce. The various ghouls, zombies, monsters, apparitions and mythical creatures stored in a menagerie go berserk and threaten plans to… ‘save the earth from destruction by the gods!’
Fran Kranz as the geeky, pot-smoking, expendable (or so it seems) friend is the best thing in the film. His sharp delivery of one liners and acerbic wit are fun. The intrigue keeps you going but the last 20 minutes are pretty much silly, senseless mayhem. The Director of this covert organisation makes an announcement on the PA system and I immediately recognised her voice. She shows up at the end anyway. If you’re an ‘aliens’ fan you’ll know who she is too.
Joss Whedon has a fertile mind and I like how he used cliché to get a point across. That there’s a reason things always look the same in these horror films. But there are no scares or thrills in The Cabin In The Woods. Just some mystery and a bit of fun. It’s also a hidden comment about how humanity is nearing imminent doom!
Chris Hemsworth is far better in Snow White & The Huntsman, which is a must watch this weekend.