Not for the nervous, and possibly not for the novice horror aficionado, “The Cabin in the Woods” is gory good fun that could easily be spoiled if I go into too much detail … which I refuse to do.
There are two strong, separate storylines in this movie and they do ultimately converge. I can tell you that the show is not without zombies, but it’s not a “zombie movie.” Its creators are the inventive Joss Whedon (he of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “Firefly” fame) and Drew Goddard (he of “Lost” and “Cloverfield” fame). Is it necessary to tell viewers to expect the unexpected?
Before I go further, this isn’t the same sort of material these guys delivered on the small screen, nor is it the “PG-13” content of the enjoyable “Cloverfield.” This is “hard-R” stuff, with people being killed and tormented in none-too-savory ways. You can’t say I didn’t tell you.
The writers know that most of the viewers of “Cabin” have seen stalk ‘n’ slash pictures before, so the set-up seems almost like a cliché: Five good-looking men and women head to a, well, cabin in the woods, where they plan to spend the weekend partying and, yes, exploring a basement that contains all kinds of fascinating finds and a cabin that contains even more. My favorite discovery is an old journal with some ghastly anecdotes.
As the group continues to drink and get high, they begin to play “Truth or Dare,” which results in one girl “making out” with the head of a wolf that is a taxidermy project hung on the wall.
Of the performers, you’re most likely to recognize Chris Hemsworth, who not only played the father of James T. Kirk in J.J. Abrams’ “Star Trek,” but is also Thor in the Marvel Comics-based movies. There’s a marvelous, and critical, cameo toward the end with a very recognizable star, but it wouldn’t be fair to reveal that performer’s identity.
You’ll get to know each of these characters and you’ll care about this group of friends facing Something Out There in the Dark. Their displays of courage, loyalty and smarts will have you rooting for them, as will their interesting lines.
The experienced horror fan might see a resemblance to a 2008 movie starring Bradley Cooper (before he had a “Hangover”). But “Cabin” has a lot more meat on its bones than that predecessor.