Movie Review: The Cabin in the Woods

This teen comedy-horror movie will surprise you — that is, once you’re done making all your “Scream” and “Scooby-Doo” comparisons.

Photo courtesy MGM Studios

“The Cabin in the Woods” comes out on April 13. Young stars like Chris Hemsworth and Kristen Connolly share the screen with old favorites like Bradley Whitford and Richard Jenkins in this surprising horror-comedy.

Sarah Harper

 

“The Cabin in the Woods”

 

Written by: Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard

Starring: Kristen Connolly, Bradley Whitford, Richard Jenkins

Rated: R

 

You’re probably expecting “The Cabin in the Woods” to be dumb. After all, it’s a horror-comedy movie about five college students who drive their van out into the wilderness to stay at an old cabin. Freaky stuff starts to happen. What else could you want besides base laughs and unoriginal premises?

It would be a disservice to any potential audience members to give too much away — but I suspect that the term, “comedy-horror,” gets your imaginative wheels turning. You can guess that the co-eds are attractive (yes, even the Shaggy-esque stoner is cute), that they struggle to stay together when things get freaky and that there is some topless lady action.

But just like the crusty, cryptic cliché of a harbinger who warns the gang that they shouldn’t go out to the remote cabin, there are a few important signs that this movie might actually be worth your time and money. Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard, who also brought you “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “Cloverfield,” are behind it. And a couple of the cast members are established all-stars — I’m looking at you, Bradley Whitford, Richard Jenkins and Brian White. The third signal is that, in spite of the whitewashed cinematography, there are some snappy, smart lines — a surprising conversation about the Civil War  is followed by a healthy amount of similarly sharp dialogue.

Smart money will bet on critics comparing this movie most often to “Evil Dead 2” — fitting, considering that both movies force audience members to suspend their senses of reality, their expectations for how a movie ought to end and their expectations of what a horror movie is. But another apt, albeit esoteric comparison, is to the 2001 movie “Josie and the Pussycats.” Both “Cabin” and “Josie” follow regular, loveable kids as they discover and fight against mysterious, white-collared powers. They both force us to reimagine how the culture we consume is created. The only thing that’s missing from “Cabin” is the celebrity cameos — Why couldn’t they get Carson Daly ?

The two biggest questions regarding any horror-comedy movie are, naturally, “Is it funny?” and “Is it scary?” “Cabin” will often have you laughing in disbelief, and you might jump out of shock a few times. But you won’t be afraid of the dark after you watch it, and you’ll be fine looking into mirrors — it’s not that type of scary. The most disturbing part of the movie is Anna Hutchison getting intimate with a stuffed wolf. If anything, “Cabin” is a comedy at heart — one that will have you laughing (and shaking your head) at the state of the horror movie industry.