The hype surrounding Joss Whedon’s upcoming hero-fest 'The Avengers' is currently at feverish levels, but I will (somewhat guiltily) admit that I was far more excited to see 'The Cabin In The Woods' – a comparatively inauspicious horror-comedy with a modest budget and more than a few tricks up its sleeves, co-written by Whedon and 'Cloverfield' scribe Drew Goddard.
For those who didn’t spend much of the noughties fervently wishing that they could BE Sarah Michelle Gellar, I’ll explain: Whedon and Goddard previously worked together on the cult hit TV show 'Buffy The Vampire Slayer' and its spin-off 'Angel', back in the golden age before vampires sparkled. It’s perhaps no surprise, then, that their latest team-up, directed by Goddard, is an irreverent pastiche of the horror genre, filled with frights, splatter and exceptional one-liners.
At first glance, the premise of 'The Cabin In The Woods' is eerily familiar: a group of attractive college students (among them Chris Hemsworth, also due to star in 'The Avengers' as Thor) decide to head out into the woods for a weekend of fun and frolics in a rustic cabin. Cue inevitable axe murderer(s). As the film’s tagline playfully hints: ‘You think you know the story’.
However – and without divulging any spoilers – I can almost guarantee that you do not know this story, and you will be surprised, jolted and entertained throughout. The film toys with hackneyed horror clichés and subverts the so-called ‘torture porn’ format, interspersing moments of genuine tension with laughs and witty dialogue.
‘Jossverse’ fans will see several familiar faces in the capable cast, including Fran Kranz (Topher Brink in 'Dollhouse') as enlightened stoner Marty, who incidentally gets many of the best lines - although the script is consistently funny.
The film’s concluding portion will no doubt divide opinion. Whilst I found it gloriously anarchic, riotous and fun, others may find that it strays a little too far into the realms of the ridiculous for their liking. Regardless, I think it’s one of the most original and refreshing films of its kind for quite some time.
'The Cabin In The Woods' will be released on April 13th in UK cinemas.