One from the re watch pile…
Cabin in the Woods (2012)
Film: Occasionally a film is made that adapts the tropes of an aspect of horror and creates a new fun way of making we, the movie fan, re-evaluate why we like those types of films, and maybe, like I do, revisit the older films of it type with not just the nostalgic affection, but with a wry reflection and a different appreciation.
Wes Craven’s Scream did it for me when it came out in the nineties, and my love of the slasher increased and made me seek out more. Cabin in the Woods is another of its ilk, but this time, we taste, obviously, the stories that take place in forbidden places (like cabins in the woodses) and teens who dally with forbidden objects d’evil.
Our film starts in a governmental research facility where two of the workers, Sitterson (Richard Jenkins) and Hadley (Bradley Whitford) are discussing the fact that only Japan and themselves are able to perform some unknown function after the failure of another institute.
We are then quickly introduced to a group of friends, Dana (Kristin Connelly), her friend, the newly blonded Jules (Anna Hutchison), her boyfriend, Curt (Chris Hemsworth), his friend, Holden (Jesse Williams) and their token stoner, Shaggy-styled buddy, Marty (Fran Kranz) who have decided to take a trip to one of Curt’s cousin’s new cabin, which happens to be in the woods.
Hence the clever name.
What they don’t realise is that conspiracy theorists are right: the government is out to get you, and in this case, the government is offering them up to… Something (which I am definitely NOt going to spoil here as its part of the fun of the film)… Something dark and evil, but why? Who is in charge… And who is REALLY in charge?
The film was written by Joss Whedon (who also produced) and Drew Goddard (who also directed), both of whom worked on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and the light tone with touches of violence and cool monsters reflects that, though I find this film to be far better than any episode of Buffy ever made, mainly due to the cast of this film being totally likeable, and I thought most of the side kicks in Buffy were, well, dicks.
The monsters in this film are the real heroes, and there is a lot of them. If you really REALLY look closely (and explore the extras and rewatch repeatedly), you’ll see so many films being referenced, like Hellraiser, zombie films, The Strangers, The Blob, Attack of the 50 Foot Woman, Ring, It and others. It also references heaps of more non-cinematic beasts like goblins, and unicorns, and giants. It’s like a Guillermo Del Toro wet dream!
This film is a blast to watch, especially for horror-kids, as it was written and directed and produced by horror-kids. Thoroughly enjoyable.
Format: The Cabin in the Woods was reviewed on a region B bluray, which also came with a digital copy of the film. The film runs for 95 minutes, and is presented in a 2.35:1 image with a Dolby DTS-HD Master audio 5.1 soundtrack, both of which are immaculate, as you would expect a modern film in a modern format to be.
Extras: The disc opens with trailers for Piranha 3DD, Seeking a Friend for the End of the World and Lockout before taking us to the main menu, and an extravaganza of special features!
The Audio commentary is performed by Goddard and Whedon, and is a pretty thorough, fun and engaging commentary.
We Are Not Who We Are: Making The Cabin in the Woods looks at the creation and evolution of what became the film we are here to celebrate. It’s really about the process that Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard went through to get the exact look and tone for the film.
An Army of Nightmares: Makeup and Animatronic Effects looks at the monsters that feature in the film and their construction. It’s awesome to see A Nightmare on Elm Street’s Nancy, aka Heather Anderson (formally Langencamp) now well entrenched in the spfx business with her husband, David Leroy Anderson.
Primal Terror: Visual Effects flips the previous extra and now we look at all the CGI in the film.
Marty’s Stash sees actor Fran Kranz explore his character Marty’s collection of fake (one would assume) drug paraphernalia.
Hi, My Name Is Joss and I’ll Be Your Guide sees Whedon tour the set of the actual cabin in the woods, which was actually a set in a soundstage.
Wonder-con Q&A is performed with Geoff Boucher from the LA Times with Whedon and Goddard post screening of the film.
The extras are all quite thorough and go for around 20 minutes to a half hour each, so you come out of the extras line well-educated on the making of the film, and for an extras nut like me, that is well cool.
I have to also highlight just how epic the hero poster is of the film, the Rubik’s Cube Cabin, which is a striking image that really defines the film perfectly, and subliminally.
WISIA: You can watch this film 30 times and still not catch all the homages to other horror films, so rewatching is essential! Geoff Boucher says in the Wondercon Q and A that he wishes there were trading cards of the monsters… I agree!!!