Kids in the woods horror movies are a pretty reliable genre. Evil Dead (1 and 2) being the best example of the formula. Cabin Fever also fits the bill and now, thanks to Lion's Gate and Mutant Energy Productions, we have the supreme example of them all in 2012's Cabin in the Woods. Horror movie fans and aficionados will go berserk with this one, but they'll also wonder why this film, made back in 2009, wasn't released until now.
Here's what you can know beforehand that won't ruin any of the monstrous curve balls hurled your way. First off, five college students - all fitting the stereotypes to a tee (slut, the good girl, the stud, the brain and the stoner) - head to a sinister cabin in the woods. And somehow a group of government bureaucrats are involved in the horrific shenanigans that ensue. I can't really say more than that.
But I can say Richard Jenkins' use of the F-bomb is priceless. Bradley Whitford (The West Wing) is super snarky (no surprise here). Chris Hemsworth, who was supremely irritating as Thor, apparently started out even worse beforehand.
Because of my commitment to not spoil the surprises this movie holds in store, I will apply the Amazon or IMDB method of "if you like these you will like this": Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Hatchet (1 and 2), Don't go into the Woods, The Burning, Sleepaway Camp, at least five Friday the 13ths, and countless '80s, don't-go-in-the-woods gems that still reside in VHS form only.
Horror film buffs and even normal movie goers will find it hard to deny the multi-faceted enjoyment Cabin delivers. The infused humor is actually funny and, yes, it's on purpose. Sure there's gore, splatter, nonsensical slaughter and questionable storylines, but this is essentially The Hunger Games for horror fans.
Keeping true to the genre and pumping it full of turbo charged adrenaline, writer/producer Joss Wheadon (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) and co-writer/director Drew Goddard (Lost, Cloverfield) have loads of fun balancing high-end horror and perfect release-valve humor. This is the hardest I have laughed in a long time and the devilishly clever script jumped all over the place in a good way. Not everything works, but it's hard not to admire Whedon and Goddard for all their over-the-top attempts. No matter how ludicrous, Cabin proves a major accomplishment. By the time the ride is over, this flick changes course more times than the Amazing Race, but never loses momentum.
With some of the most idiotic explanations for why we see the things on screen, we still can't wait to see what happens next. While still corny, hokey and flawed, for a different take on a genre this is pretty darn entertaining. This flick takes 'camp' to a new level, and we roll with it. It doesn't matter how stupid Cabin gets, it shoves its hooks in and never lets go. I left with the song "Cabin in the Woods" from Evil Dead, the Musical, running through my head. That is high praise.