Stop me if you’ve heard this one. Thor goes to the Evil Dead cabin with some of his pals and is attacked by a horde of ravenous hillbilly masochistic zombies. A merman might’ve been better, but those are the breaks. All is not what it seems in this horror show though.
Dana (Kristen Connolly) might rather be studying, but her pal Jules (Anna Hutchinson) insists that she come out to an isolated cabin with Jules’ boyfriend Curt (Chris Hemsworth) and his friend Holden (Jesse Williams). Their stoner friend Marty (Fran Kranz) also tags along for the ride. Things seem to be going good as Dana and Holden are making goo-goo eyes at one another, Jules and Curt are making out, and Marty is getting stoned some more.
When they venture down into the basement they find a journal, read some Latin aloud, and resurrect some torture-loving Appalachian zombies. So what does all this have to do with the technicians Richard (Richard Jenkins), Steve (Bradley Whitford), and an industrial complex that appears to be controlling all the horrors of the cabin in the woods? That would be telling.
Don’t let the late start fool you, Cabin in the Woods was caught afoul of MGM financial troubles but that doesn’t mean that it is a fowl product. The cabin was built in 2009, very much resembling that one from Evil Dead, and slated for a 2010 release. MGM encountered financial difficulties and this film and the Red Dawn remake got caught in the melee.
It took till 2012 for Cabin to come out of the woods and by then it had migrated to Lionsgate, ironically the same studio that inspired the two writer’s take on the material and with writers like Goddard and Whedon you know you’re in for some good writing. I didn’t know if I was going to enjoy the show since I guessed much of the plot both from the trailer and figured out the big reveal well into the picture. What I didn’t count on was having such a bloody good time.
The cast, Hemsworth hadn’t become Thor yet, acquits itself nicely although they’re cliché archetypes but they are that for a very good reason. We have our control room full of comedians who have to make them fit those same molds, but for a very good reason.
The writers do a good job of weaving those expectations into the plot but adding enough fun and surprise that it all comes together nicely. Quite the nice surprise for a film that had been sitting on the shelf since 2009.
Cabin in the Woods is presented in a 1080p transfer (2.40:1). Special features include the “It’s not what you think” bonusview where cast and crew pop up in a box for interviews, etc., a commentary with writer/director Drew Goddard and writer/producer Joss Whedon, the 28 minute making of “We are not who we are,” the 13 minute “Secret Secret Stash” (two featurettes), the 12 minute “An Army of Nightmares” about the creature effects, the 12 minute “Primal Terror” about the visual effects, the 27 minute “Wonder-con Q&A,” and the 2 minute theatrical trailer. You also get a digital copy.
I wanted to type Cabin in the Sky, but that would be a completely different review (1943 African American musical, not kosher in politically correct times). What does emerge from the woods is a fine horror film, and one should expect such with the cast and crew involved. It certainly didn’t deserve to have been held in the hinterlands until now. Luckily it finally escaped and brought along some excellent special features.
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