The Cabin in the Woods is a tribute to the slasher film, while also a satire of the slasher film. Like all good horror films, Cabin has the standard set of stereotypical characters. The whore, Dana (Kristen Connolly), the jock, Curt (Thor’s Chris Hemsworth), the academic, Holden (Jesse Williams from Grey’s Antamony) the fool, Marty (Fran Kranz), and the virgin (or close to it compared to the whore), Jules (Anna Hutchison). These five head out to a cabin in the woods to get away from the challenges of college life. And that’s when we expect to see what happens in every other slasher film. Except, this isn’t every other slasher film.
Without giving anything away, let’s just say that nothing in this film is quite what it seems to be. Which, given the writing duo of Drew Goddard (who also directed) and Joss Whedon, might just be the point. From the very beginning, you might think you walked into the wrong theater. Goddard and Whedon decide to pull the curtain back on the horror movie wizard and that’s where they start. But they don’t tell you that. That’s part of the story that unravels.
Goddard and Whedon are masterful storytellers. Every detail, even the ones you think aren’t worth paying attention to, are all a part of the story. This becomes much more clear the second and third time you watch the film. They are telling a classic slasher film, while telling the story about a greater evil, beyond the family of redneck zombies.
There is an unspeakable and ancient evil present in this film, which as the film unfolds, we realize is behind the great horrors we have witnessed. Whedon and Goddard know something about unspeakable and ancient evil, Whedon, as the creator and guru behind Buffy, the Vampire Slayer and her spin-off Angel, and Goddard, as a writer for both of those Whedon shows. And from this we learn that evil exists, and nothing is ever what it seems to be.
Classic Whedon is to have a character who will rise up and be the “chosen” one to conquer the evil. I will admit, I was watching this film expecting it to the female lead (Anna Hutchison). And while she is a strong character, and one of the characters that survives the longest, she is not the moral backbone of the film. One of the interesting factors of the film is the storyteller’s choice of character with the moral backbone. Marty, the fool, the pot-head, he is the moral backbone. Even though he has died earlier in the film, he shows up to rescue Jules, hilariously so, using his bong as a weapon of mass zombie destruction.
Despite the stereotypes associated with Marty, he is the one who figures out what is going on. He is the one that you notice early on in the film starting to put the pieces together. The fact that he smokes pot has nothing to do with his ability to be moral, good, and piss off the ancient evil. And maybe that is the point. Not that being a pot head is okay, but that stereotypes don’t matter when it comes to defeating evil.
The Blu-ray is packed with extras, including audio commentary with Goddard and Whedon, which is pretty awesome. You should listen to the commentary, but only after you’ve watched the film a few times on your own. The commentary will fill-in-the-blanks of what you were unable to piece together on your own. You don’t need to listen to it to enjoy the film, but it will enhance the brilliance of the film. There are also five short features, including a making of feature.