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The Independent Critic

STARRING
Bradley Whitford, Richard Jenkins, Chris Hemsworth
DIRECTED BY
Drew Goddard
SCREENPLAY
Drew Goddard, Joss Whedon
MPAA RATING
Rated R
RUNNING TIME
95 Mins.
DISTRIBUTED BY
MGM
DVD EXTRAS
Extras will include a commentary with Writer/Director Drew Goddard and Writer/Producer Joss Whedon, a "We Are Not Who We Are: Making The Cabin in the Woods" documentary, The Secret Secret Stash featurette ("Marty's Stash", "Hi, My name is Joss and I'll be your guide"), a Wonder-Con Q&A with Joss and Drew, 2 additional featurettes ("An Army of Nightmares: Make-Up & Animatronic Effects", "Primal Terror: Visual Effects"), and a digital copy of the film.
 "The Cabin in the Woods" Review 
If there's a surprise among this week's films, at least for this critic, it's the sheer joy and fun to be found in the Drew Goddard directed and Goddard/Joss Whedon scripted The Cabin in the Woods.

The film takes our expectations for what the film is going to be and turns them on end three or four times, never completely giving us what we expect but giving us what we didn't even know we really wanted. The set up is simple and familiar enough - A group of young and beautiful friends head off for a weekend in the wilderness that will be sexy, fun and, of course, completely horrifying.

The Cabin in the Woods has all the typical horror-thriller cliche's, but Whedon is far too inventive to simply stop there. While films like Scream or even Scary Movie may initially come to mind, Whedon has layers upon layers working here that you'll either be willing to buy into or you won't. If you don't, The Cabin in the Woods will likely be mind numbing in its stupidity. If, however, you can surrender to it then you may find yourself in awe of how Whedon and Goddard have managed to create a hybrid version of your typical horror-thriller.

To describe the film with any true details would be an injustice to you the moviegoer, though admittedly not doing so does complicate the task of actually reviewing the film.

Suffice it to say that The Cabin in the Woods is far more than simply a horror-thriller and it most certainly rises above the level of the Scream films. Whedon has always been more of a "Why?" writer/director, and The Cabin in the Woods weaves its way through both the mechanics of making this type of film and why exactly audiences seem to adore them. It's a surprisingly heady horror-thriller that still manages to be immensely entertaining.

I must confess that I found myself wondering why an actor like Richard Jenkins would commit to a project such as this one, a seemingly fundamental film that, at first glance, seemed like it would be beneath him. Sure, every actor it seems is occasionally willing to go for the "paycheck" film but Jenkins has certainly never been a Michael Caine in that area. However, Jenkins and the rest of the cast obviously saw the mastery that was lurking underneath the surface of The Cabin in the Woods and their quietly nuanced performances work together with the Whedon/Goddard script with delightful results.

The cast is far stronger than one usually finds in this type of film. Chris Hemsworth (Thor) is the jock, Anna Hutchinson is his sexy girlfriend. Kristen Connolly is the feisty, heroic female character while Jesse Williams has the stock role of the meeker, more introspective guy. Fran Kranz is easily the film's highlight and its comic relief.

As previously noted, Jenkins along with Bradley Whitford are here as a couple of government types who play a key role in everything that's going on. Don't try to read too much into that statement. It won't work.

The simple truth is that I'm rather unexpectedly recommending that you check out The Cabin in the Woods, a film that managed to make me think while entertaining me immensely. This wasn't even remotely what I expected, but the results were very much along the lines of what I'd love a horror-thriller to be.

© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic  
    The Official Rating Guideline
    • A+ to A: 4 Stars                
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    • C: 2 Stars
    • C- to D+: 1.5 Stars
    • D: 1 Star
    • D-: .5 Star
    • F: Zero Stars

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