Thursday Night Movie Club
The Cabin in the Woods
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Release Date: 13 April 2012

Director: Drew Goddard
Kristen Connolly
Chris Hemsworth
Anna Hutchison
Fran Kranz
Jesse Williams
Richard Jenkins
Bradley Whitford
Brian White
Amy Acker
Tim De Zarn
Tom Lenk
Dan Payne
Jodelle Ferland
Dan Shea
Maya Massar
Ronald The Intern
Mathew Buckner
Patience Buckner
Father Buckner
Mother Buckner
The Cabin in the Woods movie poster #1 The Cabin in the Woods movie poster #2 The Cabin in the Woods movie poster #3
The Cabin in the Woods movie poster #1Joss Whedon is on a roll. For The Cabin in the Woods, Whedon coproduces and co-writes the script. Directed by Drew Goddard, The Cabin in the Woods is the strangest movie to hit the big screen in a long time. Spoiler Alerts go right out the window on this one. There is a major plot twist before the credits roll!

The film does not begin with the cabin or the young adults who will find themselves in the cabin. No, this one starts inside a presumably underground, unnamed facility. Three lab technicians are babbling some incoherent gibberish. It is difficult to follow a conversation when you come in in the middle. The only thing that is important is that the Japan facility will come in first. The U.S. facility (current location) is the perennial runner-up. Maybe this will be the year the U.S. reigns supreme. Say What...?

Behind the opening credits are images of horrific, gory, bloody human and animal sacrifices. If this is foreshadowing, so be it. More questions pile up before we meet the main cast of characters. The Cabin in the Woods is not going to be like any other teen/slasher film that has come before. Get set for a strange ride.

The Cabin in the Woods movie poster #1The main cast of stereotypical characters have been on display in every other preceding slasher film. Why break the rules now? Dana (Connolly) is darn cute dressed in a shirt and panties as she packs for the weekend trip she and four friends are about to embark on. She is the shy bookworm who is sexually inexperienced. Her friend Jules (Hutchinson) is the sexpot who takes Dana's books out of her bag and replaces them with sexy underwear. Curt (Hemsworth) is the jock, captain of the football team. Holden (Williams) is Kurt's friend, also on the football team and a possible hook-up for Dana. Marty(Kranz) rounds out the bunch. Where the friends dragged him out from is any ones's guess. Marty is a stoner. His arrival would make Cheech Marin and Tommy Chong roll their eyes in disbelief! His car is filled with smoke and he is toking on a three foot bong. Whedon's off-the-wall humor shines when Marty folds up the bong into a coffee travelling mug.

The five friends head off in a rented motor home. They are being spied upon by a mysterious figure on the rooftop who calms informs the lab technicians that the group is on their way. Excitement builds in the lab. The friends every move is being monitored. Game On! Say What...? What in God's creation is going on here?

Enter Mordecai (De Zarn). He runs the gas station on the road to the cabin. This must be the only gas station for hundreds of miles. Mordecai has been alone too long. He is there to scare and menace the friends. Mordecai contacts the lab to inform them the kids are on their way. He begins to wax philosophical about the coming doom all to hysterical laughter from Sitterson (Jenkins) and Hadley (Whitford). They know Mordecai is full of bull and don't mind he bears the brunt of their jokes.

The Cabin in the Woods movie poster #1The cabin in the woods is the main set piece. It has it's own dark secrets: a two-way mirror and a trapdoor in the floor. The trapdoor leads to the cellar, of course. The cellar is filled with collectibles that would make any antique dealer drool. The cellar is a museum all its own populated with memorabilia of life in the early 1900's. Puzzles, games, books, toys, dolls, music boxes, movie reels, etc. fill every nook and cranny available. And, each piece has its own significance.

Screenwriters Goddard and Whedon keep the script jumping back and forth from the five friends to the goings on at the lab. They set up wild, seemingly ridiculous scenarios only to reveal the truth later. While the friends are exploring the cabin in the woods, the lab technicians are in a frenzy placing bets. What are they betting on? The Cabin in the Woods is more than a mere horror flick. Clues and hints are dropped like bread crumbs on a path. In this game of cat-and-mouse, the friends are being manipulated along a very narrow path. That is, until a choice must be made. The rules of the game are simple: Get the five friends to the cabin. After that, they must willingly make two choices. The choices they make will determine the future events of the game.

The screenplay cleverly sets up questions, bizarre questions at that. The answers only bring additional more confusing questions. All questions are answered in the end.

The Cabin in the Woods movie poster #1The Cabin in the Woods is gory, horrific, scarey, wickedly funny, and brutally sadistic. Some scenes are difficult to watch. As the technicians celebrate with champaign, one of the friends is being savagely beaten to death on the monitors in the background. Skin crawling is an understatement in describing this scene.

The ending sequence of The Cabin in the Woods borrows a page from Jurassic Park. Technology is a great tool, as long as everything is under control. In The Cabin in the Woods, the loss of control is predicated by a simple telephone ringing. This isn't your ordinary telephone. This is the dreaded red telephone. The one that never rings! This is the Hotline to the Kremlin, the Batsignal, or the CQD from the Titanic! Once even the slightest quantum of control is lost, the game comes crashing down like a deck of cards or a snowball rolling down hill that grows and grows while gaining momentum.

The mayhem provides the final question/dilemma of The Cabin in the Woods, who does the audience root for? The very conclusion of the film revolves around a simple choice, bringing the plot line full circle. An excellent screenplay.

The Cabin in the Woods movie poster #1Director Drew Goddard does an excellent job cross-cutting between the cabin and the lab. The lab technicians provide comic relief to the building suspense in the confines of the cabin. The humor isn't so funny as the five friends begin to realize they have been selected to die. Can they find a way out of the theater of death? Is there a way out? The odds are against them.

Interesting that two recent movie releases feature young adults involuntarily placed in an arena and forced to fight for their lives all for the simple viewing pleasure of the masses. Society is getting sick. Good thing these are only movies. Right...?