(Photo courtesy of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer/MGM)
Five college students head out for a weekend of fun in a remote bungalow. But things don’t go as planned, and it’s only a matter of time before blood spurts, heads roll, and the bodies begin to pile up.
If you’ve seen any horror movie in the past three decades, you’re likely familiar with this very familiar scenario, a staple of the so-called “slasher” genre.
The “cabin in the woods” setup is so common, in fact, that it’s become a horror-movie cliché, and it’s one of many that this wickedly inventive new movie takes to wildly imaginative heights and beyond.
This movie is a difficult one to describe in any degree of detail, especially without giving its razor-sharp surprises away. Suffice it to say that it takes its title literally: The setting is, indeed, a cabin in the woods. And it’s the destination for a group of college students, five stereotypical characters - a jock, a stoner, a tramp, a scholar and a “good girl” - who plan to use it for a weekend of partying.
But there’s also a labyrinth of underground control rooms, a couple of lab-coated technicians (Richard Jenkins and Bradley Whitford,) and a clear suggestion from the movie’s very first scene that there’s more afoot than the graveyard of zombies soon to be on the loose.
One of the young stars is Chris Hemsworth, also onscreen this summer as Thor in “The Avengers.” (And the movie’s co-writer is “Avengers” director Joss Whedon.) Another actor, Jesse Williams, plays Dr. Avery Jackson on TV’s “Grey’s Anatomy.” If you watch afternoon soaps, you may have seen “good girl” Kristen Connelly from her recurring roles several years ago on “Guiding Light” and “As The World Turns.”
The movie poster shows a cabin in midair, as if levitated by some supernatural force. But look closely and you’ll see it’s no ordinary lodge of logs; it’s like a Rubik’s Cube, in three sections, each out of alignment from the others. It’s a perfect image for the movie, which takes the idea of an “ordinary” horror movie, lifts it up, turns it every which way - and finally smashes it to pieces.
It’s scary, smart, gory, funny and madly creative, concocting a “Twilight Zone”-ish theory about humanity’s age-old thirst for blood that stirs ancient virgin sacrifices, reality TV, a warehouse full of nightmares, and horror cinema into a mind-blowing cocktail of gods, monsters and mythology. “You think you know the story,” reads the movie’s tagline. “Think again.”
You’ll be thinking plenty after watching “The Cabin in the Woods,” a movie that puts a frightfully fresh, delightfully demonic twist on things that go thump in the night.