This film has been described by so many reviewers as 'genre-defying' that I was beginning to wonder if it was an exaggeration. But what was I thinking? Penned and produced by Joss Whedon - the man who famously created Buffy (the Vampire Slayer), and turned all pre-conceived notions about a young, blond girl in a dark alley - The Cabin in the Woods actually does bring a revolution to the 'five youngsters go to a cabin in the woods' storyline.
The premise is obvious (and I've just stated it). The main protagonists are made up of the jock, the nerd, the stoner, the slut and the 'good' girl. The cast includes a healthy dose of Whedon alumni (Fran Kranz, Amy Acker, Tom Lenk) and other famous television stars (Bradley Whitford, Jesse Williams) with current poster-boy Chris Hemsworth. And that's where the familiarity ends.
The trailer gives away so little of the twist in the story that you have got to be a Whedon fan (or a reader of all the hype) to know that this film has anything new to offer besides the obvious sex, torture and death that teen horror is known for. And unfortunately, I can't say any more about the plot either - as it will ruin the film for any one who hasn't seen it.
It is fair to say though that the dialogue is super smart, the references are tongue in cheek (AND in your face), the twists are as funny as they are welcome, and throughout the film you're simply rooting for the actors and film makers because it is entertainment at its purest. There are moments where you jump just a little, laugh a little too loud, feel bewitched by the horrors - and of course, the last 20 minutes are insanity at its peak (sorry, but I can't talk about that either). Even the posters for the film are so well-designed, they're worth collecting! It's shocking that such a fun piece of work had been lying in the cans since 2009 (before Hemsworth became Thor), because of various studio issues.
Joss Whedon calls it a 'very loving hate letter' to the genre (Total Film 191) and I hate to repeat myself, but if you're familiar with his work, you will see and hear Whedon in every concept and dialogue of the film (even though he only co-wrote it, along with director Drew Goddard). I used to say that Joss is the god of television; he does what Tarantino does for cinema. And then he did Dollhouse (2009-2010) and made me cry. With The Cabin in the Woods, my faith is restored and I bow my head to the cleverness of Joss Whedon, once again.
'Recommend, much?' You bet!