Obviously Whedon and his co-conspirator (and the director) Drew Goddard have seen enough horror flicks to be able to see the clichés. But I’m not sure they know the genre well enough to explore it in a way that Kevin Williamson was able to do with “Scream.” They follow the formula to a T, including five cliché ridden and uninteresting characters.. You don’t care about them, just like in every other movie this movie is supposed to be skewering. Chris Hemsworth is the “jock” Curt, and traditional good looks aside he’s a rather bland actor. Kristen Connolly is the “virgin” and she’s rather bland too – you remember her as “woman reading on bench” in the eye-roll inducing “The Happening.” Anna Hutchinson is Jules the “slut” – you know the one who bares her breasts and then quickly meets her maker. “Scream” was smart enough to not show single bare breast – and the one character who actually had sex was the virginal one! The “smart guy” is Holden, played by Jesse Williams from “Grey’s Anatomy.” And the most obnoxious character of them all is of course, the “stoner guy” Marty played by Fran Kranz. These five unlikely friends set off to spend a weekend in Curt’s family’s cabin in the woods. Why anyone would decide to go to a rundown cabin in the woods for a weekend is beyond me. But remember someone is “controlling” these kids to do exactly what they want. Who these “controllers” are is something you’ll have to be patient in finding out. And frankly, the payoff is not nearly as satisfying - or intelligent - as you might expect. After all were talking about the guy who wrote “Alien: Resurrection” - completely well known for it’ intelligent story. NOT.
The biggest problem with “The Cabin in the Woods” is that any chance at scary moments are ruined once the film cuts to the characters controlling the college kids. They’re played by Richard Jenkins and Bradley Whitford. They have corny lines of dialogue that some people found funny – but I found completely out of place. Is this movie a comedy or a horror movie or what? I did enjoy a fun cameo appearance later in the film, but by that point the film becomes too hokey, silly, and downright stupid; my forehead hurt from being slapped so much. There’s not much more that can be said without ruining the entire experience. Which would probably be a good thing.
“The Cabin in the Woods” is sort of a misfire. It’s a film that thinks it’s wildly original and innovative but is way too insulting to its core audience. It makes fun of the conventions found in these films and yet it doesn’t do anything to change them. It's more mockery than homage. It’s a horror film for people who don’t like horror films, which explains why those stuffy film critics have been praising it. Any true hardcore horror fan will appreciate what it’s trying to do, I did, I swear – but will realize that, like the characters in the film, we’re just being duped. GRADE: C