So. After realizing that my buddy did not want me to meet him at A cabin in THE woods at midnight, but did in fact want me to join him for a movie, I found myself in my seat at the theater and having one of the best cinema experiences I’ve had at a theater since I made out with a girl in the back row when I was in middle school. (You didn’t have a girlfriend in middle school, Karl. Shut it, haters, just go with it.)
One early review over at the Paranormal Pop Culture Blog by Aaron Sagers recommended that the less you know going into this movie, the better. For the most part I agree, so I’ll be brief.
All you need is your horror movie expertise. Then just settle in.
I laughed through the first ten minutes and then kept going. I’ve never laughed so much through a movie and been so engaged at the same time. This one challenges everything you’ve ever known about the horror genre, flips it on its head, then keeps flipping. Think Tucker and Dale Vs. Evil on crack (and without the trailer giving away the best laughs), which is saying something, because Tucker and Dale was, in its own right, doing the exact same thing. The meta turns from commentary to story, the thrills to laughs and back again, but doesn’t stop there.
It feels wrong to say it’s a comedy, even a black comedy, even a movie that you should laugh more than twice in. The trailer certainly doesn’t give away more than one laugh (IF YOU HAVEN’T YET, TAKE NOTE COMEDY TRAILER EDITOR TYPES) (though it does give away a bit or two away that it probably shouldn’t have mentioned, so, view at your own risk). But to get back on point, the comedic nature is pitch perfect. Camp is that genre that shows the strings, playing with the elements of meta-awareness, and often it’s funny as a necessity, and Cabin in the Woods is aware of this from the get-go. That’s real comedy. To blend the horrific and make it funny. To make a commentary. To show the strings and then cut them all to bits.
I can’t say much more without spoiling anything, which isn’t to say that this was a movie that hinged around spoilers (Any careful few minutes’ consideration of the trailer gets you well-prepped, and there are no gimmicky twists, just the ride as it unfolds–or better: unravels). But the charm that the movie brings (yes, it’s charm. Not romcom charm or drama charm, but horror movie brilliance charm, that glee in pointing at the screen to some clever allusion otherwise missed), it’s something I’d hate to ruin.
The subtlety and surprise are best left at that.
Four stars. A horror masterpiece. A breath of fresh air. Hope that a fresh story can be told, and that wonderful writing still exists in the cinema. Go see it right now.