Saturday, 5 January 2013

I watched The Cabin in the Woods

Considering the years of pain some people went through waiting for The Cabin in the Woods to be released, it felt a bit strange to just sit down and watch it. There was a time when it looked like this film was going to drown in a financial hole, making it a lost Whedon classic that nobody was actually going to be able to see. And after all that, I still didn't know what it was about, because every review was desperate not to tell me. As it turns out, it's a horror film. Or a version of a horror film. Part parody, part incredibly inventive horror-comedy-fantasy-sci-fi-action-adventure-thing. It enjoys playing with your expectations. Five killable friends go to a house in the forest that's a long way from the emergency services, but close to evil monsters. And when all the nasty things are happening in the woods, it cuts to a control room where Bradley Whitford and Richard Jenkins are controlling the horror. It diffuses the tension and adds a comic layer to what is already a lot of self-referential cleverness.

I could write about how postmodern this all is, and use more words like 'diffuses', but that would be ignoring the fact that this film is just a lot of fun. Despite all the gore, it's friendly in that familiar Whedonish (or Whedonesque) way. It doesn't really want to scare you. It wants to invite you into its club of nerdiness, where everything is an in-joke. And it works as a film. It's an hour and a half, cut down to the essential bits without a moment that drags. And it's got Bradley Whitford in it. If, like me, you've spent half of your life watching The West Wing, you'll just expect him to start shouting about voter turnout. But he doesn't. He looks like he's going to, but then he talks about zombies instead.