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Tonight, the long-gesting horror creation from Buffy, Firefly and Avengers mastermind Joss Whedon and LOST, Cloverfield and Spielberg's upcoming Robopocalypse writer Drew Goddard, The Cabin in the Woods, was unleashed into the world, premiering to the excitable, mouth-frothing crowds of South by Southwest. There's reason why the anticipation was so high: Cabin in the Woods has been sitting on a shelf, collecting dust for a few years, after MGM went bankrupt and there wasn't anyone to put the thing out.
Now, finally, the movie is hitting the circuit, playing at the highly-regarded film festival before making its way to theaters April 13. Was it worth the wait? Simply put: ab-so-lutely.
Cabin in the Woods has a ton of twists and turns, so being a month out, know this report is only a highlight reel—no spoilers, no details, just reactions.
The Movie Isn't Remotely Close to a Run-of-the-Mill Slasher Movie
A few minutes after the end credits on the movie rolled out, I tweeted out my gut-reaction, to which I'll stick by: The Cabin in the Woods is one of the most crowd-pleasing movies I've ever seen. This was hard for a few of my followers to digest. For the most part, the trailers for The Cabin in the Woods have painted a straight-forward picture of the film's plot: four twenty-somethings head to the woods where they are subsequently murdered by mysterious…whatevers. Been there, done that. But what hides behind The Cabin in the Woods's obvious exterior can't be sold to people. The movie, from beginning to end, is the pure definition of spoiler territory and every reveal, every genre in-joke, every escalating I-can't-believe-this-is-actually-happening moment pays off. Big laughs, big scares and everything in-between.
If you pick apart the trailer, you start to get a sense of what the bigger picture of The Cabin in the Woods may be, but even then, you don't actually know. The movie preys on every convention you've seen again and again and again in a horror movie, while still presenting four human characters you get to know and love. That's an achievement, one that unfortunately must go unspoken in standard marketing materials.
Chris Hemsworth Proves Himself a Star
The Cabin in the Woods was shot before Hemsworth broke out in last summer's Thor, but even in the wake of that gargantuan superhero blockbuster, I'm not sure I was sold on Hemsworth as a leading man (for anything but a bad guy-smashing God of Thunder, anyway). Surprisingly, Cabin in the Woods is the movie that shows off Hemsworth's real range. In the movie he plays Curt, a normal chum who progressively becomes more and more like the machismo-driven frat guy we're all used to seeing. He pulls off a difficult task—make the guy likable and real in the beginning, then spoof the heck out of him at the end. It's oddball, for sure, but Hemsworth understands comedy. Specifically, the type on display in Cabin in the Woods.
And his lesser-known co-stars shine just as brightly. Fran Kranz, a holdover from Whedon's Dollhouse nails the spaced out stoner nerd. Anna Hutchison and Kristen Connolly play the group's female half, the latter making an excellent ingenue-type who gets to show her strong side when the curtain is pulled back on the movie's real surprises. Aside from his deviations in plot, Cabin in the Woods stands out from other horror movies simply for having great performances.
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