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The Cabin in the Woods (2011)

by on 2012/05/28

“It was the pioneer days – people had to make their own interrogation rooms. Out of cornmeal.”

* * * *

Joss Whedon’s Joss Whedon is all that Joss Whedons.

Hacker Renders, as usual, beat me to the punch on this one with his pithy review. But given this month is ‘As Seen On TV’ month on I wanted to take a moment to talk about how Joss Whedon has been my television everything since 1997.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer was a turning point in television and my own personal history. Buffy was a revelation. The revered Mr. Whedon turned the horror movie trope of the beautiful, blonde woman in peril on its severed ear.

Of course, in all horror movies up to that point, the blonde lady, stumbling in her impractical pumps, is almost always the beautiful lamb to the slaughter. In Buffy she’s the all-powerful, conquering hero.


It was wonderful. I loved it. So much. Buffy became so much more than a beloved television character to me. She became a symbol. One that I held at almost the same level of reverence as did Tim Bisley from Spaced, praying to a Buffy poster when things looked grim. (I will simply say I owned that same picture and kept it on my wall for those dark days).

Then there was Firefly, then there was Dollhouse. I was with Mr. Whedon all the way. I loved the dialogue, the ideas, the characters, and his cast of actors.

So The Cabin in the Woods had so much of what I loved from Joss Whedon’s television. The Cabin in the Woods, like Buffy, burned the crops and made merry sport with some of the more attractive horror movie tropes. The result was funny, gruesome and thoroughly entertaining.

A simple concept – a bunch of goofy co-eds travelling to an isolated cabin in the woods where no one can hear them scream – is taken to the next weird and wonderful level by writer Joss Whedon and writer/director Drew Goddard (who incidentally penned of some of Buffy’s most dark and terrifying episodes).

The Cabin in the Woods had much to remind me of Buffy and Dollhouse. There was the complex group dynamic so capably executed, just like in Buffy‘s Scooby gang. And there’s no such thing as a standard character in a Whedonverse. No easy stereotypes. Chris Hemsworth (Thor) plays the brainy, essentially decent jock in The Cabin in the Woods.

There’s the complex, quirky red-headed ingenue Dana (Kristen Connolly). Then there’s Topher Brink, I mean Marty, played by the great Fran Kranz. It was weird seeing the Dollhouse‘s super brain and master tech getting wasted on a coffee mug bong.

There’s the capable, level-headed blonde Jules (Anna Hutchinson), manipulated by chemicals into becoming the brainless ditz who so often becomes monster horror slasher bait. And The Cabin in the Woods does not disappoint in terms of sheer volume and vault jumping distance of the arterial spray.

Then there’s Holden (Jessie Williams) the self-deprecating, shy hot guy/jock. They are all excruciatingly sympathetic characters, as only Mr. Whedon can create, so it bothers you when the pain-worshipping pioneer zombies …well, I’ll not say more.

For the Dollhouse fans, there’s the blasé, white-collar technicians played by Richard Jenkins (Step Brothers) and Bradley Whitford (Adventures in Babysitting) for whom playing with people’s lives is just another day at the office.

Needless to say, for fans of Dollhouse and Buffy, you’ll spot some of many of the great ideas you know and love. Especially when the terrifying monster residents of an underground lab and the military forces that guard them do bloody battle. Can anyone say the Initiative?

Scary, funny, irreverent, geeky and creepy. I will be seeking out The Cabin in the Woods to make it permanent part of my Whedon museum.

* * * *

95 minutes

Rated R for strong bloody horror violence and gore, language, drug use, some sexuality/nude and a tiny dancer with a lamprey face (shudder)

  1. I loved every second of this brilliant film and I had no idea who Joss Whedon was until this year.

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