Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Cabin in the Woods

I Can See Through To You

One of the best ways to thoroughly enjoy The Cabin in the Woods, is to steer clear of its trailer and go in blind. Don't read any reviews because there are plenty out there who are just plain lazy and in their plot summary hint at what's to come, or tend to reveal too much - heck, if you're that cautious, skip my review altogether, though I promise to tread really carefully. A film that's usually bad gets shelved for months before a release date, and this was delayed for 3 years, though due to its battle to resist being converted to 3D. Thankfully it stayed the way it is rather than to go into yet another senseless depth of field conversion that brings little value to the table, and along the way nothing else got created that resembled its brilliance, keeping it extremely fresh when seen for the first time.

Written by Joss Whedon (whose next film The Avengers just can't wait to burst onto the big screens) and Drew Goddard who wrote Cloverfield, and episodes for television series such as Lost, Angel and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the concept for The Cabin in the Woods is so fluid and probably easy to come up with if you're smoking something, working on many levels, and gives us all a reason why horror films play out the way they do. The writing duo takes the quintessential horror film ensemble of characters, and slaps on some fictional yet logical rationale, though keeping it thoroughly entertaining, and with the usual bag of tricks up the sleeves that every horror filmmaker out there would have dipped into from time to time, packing it with plenty of strong irony that drips in every scene.

Goddard also takes on directing responsibilities, and his feature film debut demonstrates a keen eye for various genres, all incorporated seamlessly into this film. Laughter and satire are always close by, and I can't fathom another film that's remotely close to its offering of thrills, spills and laughter, not by a mile. There are plenty of moments where you're kept on the edge of your seat, with surprising twists and turns popping up every now and then, even when the film established its own ground rules early on that will probably give you a whiff of what's to come later in the narrative. You may think you have all the answers, but the final act provides clear cut answers, and throws just about everything from the horror genre onto the screen in one giant melting pot.

What I really enjoyed about the film is its tongue-in-cheek treatment about competition from around the world, reflecting real life and how we view horror films in general, with each subsequent viewing of a particular film, or a sub-genre, sensitizing us to anything a filmmaker could possibly throw at us, leaving us jaded, and almost always a step ahead of the filmmakers. Here, there's a deliberate flag flying attempt that pokes fun at the return of US horror filmmaking brilliance in a less than subtle sequence, and in what I thought was an overt warning was not to celebrate before the chickens hatch, a reminder to focus on the task at hand until it gets completed rather than to rest on premature laurels.

So step into The Cabin in the Woods, and throw all preconceived notions you think may happen along the course of the movie. You'll get some right, but trust me there are a lot more going on here with references so fast and furious that this is firmly set as one of the rare few horror films that begs repeated viewing. Highly recommended, and a shoo-in into the shortlist as one of this year's best!

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