Sunday, 29 September 2013

Film Review: The Cabin in the Woods

Words: Graeme Roberts

When you first spy the promotional poster, The Cabin in the Woods looks like a generic remote-location horror movie in the mould of Deliverance and Cabin Fever.  This is intentional, as the movie’s plot relies on the audience making this assumption.  Yet it is apparent from the first scene, which is set in a bunker resembling Dr Evil’s lair from the Austin Powers franchise, that this movie has an extra dimension.

Next we jump to another formulaic set-up, a group of American college students taking a road trip.  All of the clich├ęd characters are present: the flirtatious hot chick, her equally attractive but chaste female friend, the jock boyfriend, the marijuana-smoking layabout and the token darker-skinned guy.  It is so stereotypical it hurts, but that’s the point.  The Cabin in the Woods is no ordinary horror movie - it seeks to subtly parody the genre while still remaining true to it.

It almost works brilliantly, but is sadly flawed.  It becomes an ineffective self-parody at times, suffering an identity crisis by committing neither to genre adherence nor mockery.   The central premise of the movie, which reveals the purpose of the men in suits in the bunker, is so ambitious it borders on the absurd.  The movie asks a little too much in terms of suspension of disbelief from its viewers.

Cinematic trailer:

Despite these faults, there are many pleasing aspects to the film.  The CGI is sharp and impressive.  The plot is swift and the dialogue punchy.  Yet it’s not a classic and it’s not, as one mainstream review claims, a game-changer. 

If you are prepared to overlook the film’s shortcomings, it is a valiant attempt to challenge generic conventions.  More importantly, The Cabin in the Woods has enough humour and gore to make it an enjoyable way to spend 95 minutes. 

Oxford Road rating: ★★★ 

Find the film on IMDB: The Cabin in the Woods 

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