Movie Review: The Cabin in the Woods

I saw The Cabin in the Woods yesterday despite the fact that I am not a horror movie fan. Thankfully, The Cabin in the Woods is not a horror movie. Well, it is and it isn’t, and it’s those extra features that really made it stand out in my mind.

I originally wanted to go see The Cabin in the Woods because Joss Whedon was involved–as writer and producer. You may know Joss Whedon from such things as Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Firefly, or Dollhouse, among a ton of other projects. Typically, when Joss Whedon is involved, you’re going to get a creative, smart project with interesting characters and smart dialogue. So I figured this wouldn’t be a normal slasher movie. I was right. It’s anything but a typical horror movie, despite the presence of five teens: the jock, the slut, the virgin, the nerd (he wears glasses), and the stoner. The Cabin in the Woods plays with horror movie cliches in a really interesting way–not for laughs like Scream, but to tell a much different story.

You see, right from the get go, The Cabin in the Woods keeps you guessing. Instead of starting with the teens, it begins with Richard Jenkins and Bradley Whitford in full NASA-nerd attire–white, short-sleeved button downs, black ties, and ID badges–chatting at the water cooler. That’s the first time you think to yourself, “Zuh?” And it’s not the last.

Every time you think you have this movie figured out, it throws you for a loop. Yes, there’s a road trip, a creepy cabin, death, and dismemberment. But that’s just the surface layer. This movie goes deep, pulling in so many horror, science fiction, film, and literature references that the movie becomes something else entirely. Joss Whedon delivers a really pleasant surprise.

The real difficulty with reviewing a movie like this is not spoiling those surprises. So make this the last review you read. Go in knowing as little as possible. If you’re a fan of horror, science fiction, or Joss Whedon, you will love it. Trust me.