Let me be perfectly frank: I am no fan of the horror movie genre. Pretty much every horror or slasher movie I’ve seen as an adult has been as predictable and formulaic as a Mitt Romney campaign event: you know what’s coming, which hollowed-out facsimiles of human beings will present, and how nothing is ever ultimately resolved because there has to be a sequel, goddam it!
So it is with relative surprise that I can honestly recommend the new horror movie from Drew Goddard, The cabin in the Woods. This one works because it doesn’t really care about the genre – it just wants to do something different. Different and bizarre. How bizarre? Very.
It starts off the same way all horror movies do: a bunch of dimwitted tens pile into a van and head off to the woods for a weekend of “fun”. Mistake number one. The teens are stock characters from every movie about pre-adults you’ve ever seen, led by a jock named Curt (Chris Hemsworth) who is way out of his breadth here. Just once I’d like to see the nerd lead the group to its demise (just once!)
Mistake number two happens when they actually get to the cabin and refuse to leave at first sight. It doesn’t look so inviting, you see.
The cabin, it turns out, is a laboratory-trap devised by two (let’s call them ‘evil’) scientists who have nothing better to do than to present their victims with situations that demand they make choices that will result in death or a chance to perhaps die at a later date. Why do they do this?
We’re not exactly sure, though it seems that these two men (played by Richard Jenkins and Bradley Whitford) are simply fascinated by the consequential choices human beings make and why they make them. It’s a highly controlled behavior experiment, the kind that usually begins with rats in a lab and ends with animal rights protesters outside.
Only this time, the rats are high school students and there’s no one outside to save them. Definitely worth checking out.