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The Cabin in the Woods (2012): ***½

The Cabin in the Woods

Directed by Drew Goddard

How do I review this movie without spoilers? I really have to, because knowing anything at all about this movie before going in would be detrimental to your enjoyment of it. I can tell you this: The Cabin in the Woods is a horror movie. Well, kind of.

I’ll also tell you that despite what you have probably heard, there is no twist to The Cabin in the Woods. There is instead a premise. And that premise is laid out very straightforwardly. Not all components of the premise are laid out right away, of course, but are doled out over the course of the entire movie. There are a few minor surprises here and there with how things play out, but there is no twist; the premise plays out all the way to its logical conclusion. Did I vague that up enough for you?

That said, it is a very original and hilarious premise, and it allows for unlimited playing with this specific archetype of horror film. And, boy is it a lot of fun. Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard aren’t stupid; they know what they’re doing, and they do it so well. Dialogue is crisp, smart, and funny. Humor is undercut with horror and horror is undercut with humor constantly, but somehow without diminishing either. There are some truly frightening moments. And there are some truly hilarious moments. And it all works.

Here’s the thing, though. Once I got the hang of the premise of the movie, I expected there to actually be a twist to it all, but there wasn’t. It was a great premise and a great movie made from that premise, but I was absolutely certain that Joss Whedon in particular was going to throw in once final zinger, one last something that shed some surprising light on everything that came before it. But it never happened.

But that doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy it. I surely did. It is a genre-transcending film, even if it doesn’t quite transcend itself.

Gosh, this was a hard movie to review without giving anything away, but the whole movie relies on you not knowing anything about it beforehand. I gave it my best shot. Just see it before someone gives away the premise to you.


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