Now Playing: The Best Horror Film in Years

‘The Cabin in the Woods’ is a difficult movie to review. It’s almost impossible to talk about it without spoiling something import. Instead of describing the plot, I’m going to emphasize how much you should just take the leap of faith and get out there to see it.

If you’ve seen the trailer for ‘Cabin in the Woods,’ you know that a group of college-age kids head to an ‘Evil Dead‘-ish cabin for the weekend. Of course, something in the woods is trying to kill them.

What ‘Cabin in the Woods’ pulls off will forever change the way you look at horror movies – not only those to come, but those that you already know. It sets up a model that you can apply to 90% of the horror genre, one that explains exactly where everything stupid happens in a horror movie – why the virgin is the central character, why the group always splits up, why someone always trips while being chased, and so on.

While the trailers haven’t alluded to it at all, ‘The Cabin in the Woods’ is also hilarious. It definitely falls into the horror comedy sub-genre. I laughed harder during ‘The Cabin in the Woods’ than I have in most recent comedies. It’s shocking to see what co-writers Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard are able to get away with – not as in R-rated content, but story content. Just when I thought the movie was about to end, a wild and unrestrained final act begins that is completely out of control. I don’t know which studio exec thought, “Hey, this might be a good idea,” and gave the film a green light, but I’m sure glad that someone did.

I don’t expect ‘The Cabin in the Woods’ to do much business at the box office, but I’ll be an instant cult classic. Those who heed the critical acclaim and give it a shot will be very, very glad they did.

Rating: ★★★★½


  1. Went to an advance screening with Drew Goddard a while back, and loved every second of it. I’m going to see it again tomorrow and have been lobbying for others to do the same (frustrating when I explain to someone how much I loved the movie and want to see it do well, so they tell me “ok I’ll download it.”)

    • I’m jealous. Very jealous. Love Goddard.

      I’m with you. I hope people get out there and see it. People are going to love it, I just hope they pay to see it so we can get more entertainment like it.

  2. Actually, I’m hoping I may be able to see it this weekend. 🙂 I’m trying not to read too much, because I don’t want to give it away to myself. 😉

  3. It’s awesomely awesome. Here’s the thing though, even though the movie relies heavily on its “secrets” you’ll still enjoy it immensely. The humor and satirical nature of the movie is much more enjoyable than the ‘Lost’-like secrets. It’s fun to try and figure out what’s going on, but even if you knew all of the spoilers going in it’d still be great.

      • It’s really frustrating, as several of my friends, whom I know will love it, are completely turned off by the trailer. It really is a difficult movie to market, if they make it look like a straight-forward Evil Dead-esque horror movie, it’s core audience is bored before they see it, but giving away any more detail would be criminal. Honestly, I think the trailer shows too much as it is.

  4. DrMaustus


    With a budget of 30 million, how much money does Cabin need to make this weekend to not be considered a “flop” like Serenity?

    • The only flop with regards to Serenity are the kinds of people who can’t get past it’s Space Western motif. I have no sympathy for those people, they have no fun or funny bone in their bodies. They deserve all the “reality” tv they watch.

    • No problemo. I went in knowing nearly nothing and was exceptionally happy that I did. I want everyone to have the same clueless experience that I did. It made the ride a whole lot of fun.

      I typically only blow out spoilers if the movie sucks. IE, The Three Stooges.

  5. JM

    Horror comedy usually dies at the box office.

    ‘The Cabin In The Woods’ probably won’t make ‘Zombieland’s $75M.

    Will it make more than the $34M of ‘Snakes On A Plane’?

    Or are we looking at ‘Jennifer’s Body,’ a slinky $16M?

    If ‘The Cabin’ opens at $15M, and has sexy legs, it could end with $60M worldwide.

    The real question is, if ‘The Avengers’ makes a solid profit off its $220M budget, what does the future of Joss Whedon’s career look like?

  6. Man I’m super pumped to see this tomorrow, so glad Lionsgate pulled this out of the MGM Hell Limbo it was stuck in, 3 years it took after it was finished to get picked up and put out, the trailers push Goddard, Whedon and Cloverfield a lot and I hope that helps its numbers, Cloverfield did very well at the box office so that name should stick with people and of course Whedon gets draws from all his fans as they are very loyal, I have a friend going with me who doesnt usually bother with horror at all because he’s a huge Whedon fan, everything I’ve heard has been great and the critic reviews have this really high, which never happens with horror films

  7. Saw this last night. It’s a fun movie, but a little overhyped for me, even though I did what I could to avoid spoilers. The ending seems like a cop-out, especially since the movie seems to set up a last-minute plot twist on several occasions and then not bother to follow through.

    I liked it, though. I’ll buy it on Blu-ray and watch it again.

    • I think your completely missing the point about the ending. I’m sure plenty of people would love to chime in about it, but you can’t really discuss the ending without ruining it.

      I for one loved it, and because of the choices made in the film we get a pretty awesome line of dialog.

        • EM

          I had the same feelings about lack of follow-through that Josh did, and I think Josh’s suggestions for tweaked alternate endings are sound. (I saw the movie on Sunday, earlier than I had said in another blog thread.) Heck, I might have been quite satisfied with the ending as is if the items to which you object had been addressed first (e.g., if the anticipated plot twist had come and then, in yet another twist, turned out to be invalid). I wouldn’t be surprised if Whedon had planned the twist we were thinking but abandoned it because he figured too many twist-seekers would predict it. I sympathize with that position, but I think that over the span of his career he has too often thrown twist-seekers off the scent by choosing an alternative that is simply dissatisfying.

          If Tim is referring to the line of dialogue that I think he is—one uttered by a rather surprising yet fitting eleventh-hour character—I agree that it’s a great line. But altering the film to suit Josh’s criticism would not entail losing that line, as it could serve as a misdirection on the way to the plot twist I thought was coming.

          Overall, I do like the movie. It’s intelligent and clever and fresh. But I think it makes a lot of missteps. Much of the humor of the film rests on the notion of banality—e.g., the rather tired genre claptrap that the ads largely suggest—but I think it takes that banality joke a little too far. Intentional banality and unintentional banality tend to look the same—banal. Scream also traded heavily on cliché, but it also worked to make itself a more all-around interesting movie (more engaging characters, for example) so that it also worked fairly well “straight”. I think that such an approach could have improved The Cabin in the Woods; at the very least, it could have served a wider audience, including people who don’t know the genre and its clichés and people who have a hard time taking a movie on anything but a literal level (I noticed a lot of backlash in the reader comments on the IMDb this weekend).

    • I agree that the ending felt like it was setting up some kind of extra twist but didn’t, but I would’ve hated a twist that lost the Lovecraftian (is that a spoiler?) overtones. Though that shouldn’t have stopped some other twist.

      I must admit, the very very final shot was a let down for me. The rest of the film had great humour, but it worked without drawing you out of the film. That final shot was simply too tongue-in-cheek. It needed something more atmospherically in keeping with the ‘villains’ so-to-speak.

      As for the movie overall, I agree, I thought it was great fun but a little over-hyped. I didn’t think it was the miraculous game-changer it was made out to be (In respect to the writers though, they haven’t claimed it is, I don’t think, just the very enthusiastic genre critics and fans). it was an excellent little horror film though, with some nice laughs and twists. I’d easily give it an 8/10.

    • Barsoom Bob

      Didn’t even think to invite my wife to this one. It’s just a fan boy’s wet dream, it’s fun while you are going along for the ride, but in the end it was a WTF was that. And, yes I know, we are supposed to be the villians. All jokey asides, no real meat on th bones.

      • JM

        Every girl I know loves ‘Tucker & Dale Vs. Evil.’

        Is ‘The Cabin in the Woods’ anchored by a romance subplot?

        • Barsoom Bob

          Not really. Can’t say more without spoiling.

          There is a new Prometheus viral video posted over at Ain’t It Cool News that features Fassbinder and his character David from the movie. The first one had Guy Pierce and was a supposed TED video. These little videos are very cool, directed by Ridely’s son.

  8. Amazing on all levels, the plot line and how it really makes you think about horror movies done in the past is awesome, not since Scream has a genre flick turned the whole genre on its head, the last 20 minutes is insane 🙂

    I cant recommend this enough as its probably the most original idea in the horror genre in a really long time, I know from now on I will always think of this movie when I see a lot of genre flicks and I will definitely look at the genre movies of the past differently too, great idea and execution and it definitely made this horror fan proud and happy, way to go Whedon!

    I highly recommend paying to see this one, give it the support it deserves!

    • Yes I agree we need to really pay it forward with this amazing gift that Goddard and Whedon have given us. Make sure that the studios know that pictures like this should NEVER be put on the back burner like this again. We should have been enjoying the Video release of this movie already much less just finally getting to go see it.

      Every great review this movie has garnered can’t even touch how awesome it is.

      • Just read that the movie it nearly $15 mill this weekend. Which was slightly above their predictions and actually grew as the weekend went on. This hopefully means this movie will easily make it’s budget back. I for one know this will be a new cult classic along with movies like Evil Dead II and the like.

        Some movies like this can sometimes end up making quite a ton over a longer period of time. The only thing working against it is that’s an R Rating but hopefully adults will actually go to the movies this time because they are the ones this is squarely aimed at.

        • Oh yeah, I also weep for a humanity that goes and sees “The Three Stooges” over this movie. It’s a sad state of affairs when smart intelligent and witty loses out to, rehashed, lame and stupid.

          Don’t get me wrong I love the original three stooges shorts, but the travesty of trying to ape and mimic long dead comedic genius, should never win out over something as unique as Cabin.

  9. I purposely avoided reading too much about the movie, and made sure not to learn anything about the end. The movie is pure Awesome on a stick and the in jokes come so fast and furious the movie definitely requires multiple viewings before all of the humor can be depleted from the premise.

    The ending may turn off some viewers. But to be honest the real reason to see this movie is about 10 minutes before the ending.

    I won’t give anything away here but to say that I would watch Star Wars Episode 1, five times back to back and it would still be worth it to see the sequence I’m referencing.

    Your eyeballs they are sploding.

    The dialog is so funny that even generic type setup scenes must be paid attention to.

    But I will say they did not market how damned funny this movie is, the real movie you want to and get to see is not even marketed at all in the trailer.

    • They can’t really market the funny of the movie since most of the funny comes from Whitford and Jenkins, and revealing anything about their characters reveals a lot about the secretive plot.

      • EM

        I disagree.

        Considering that those actors’ characters and their milieu are right there from the beginning, I think their very existence isn’t spoilerish. That said, I am willing to concede that there might not be much dialogue from their scenes that would be both intriguing enough and unspoilerific enough for an ad. I think that this is a case where narration (voiceovers and/or titles) might have helped whet appetites while preserving secrets.

        But I also disagree with the notion that comedy or horror-comedy or comedy-horror is the film’s genre space. (I’d say it’s more of a horror-satire.) Yeah, there is a lot of funny. Most, if not all, horror films have intentional humor (I don’t mean vitreous, etc.). So do a lot of other movies that aren’t comedies. Granted, quite a bit of this movie’s humor is tied inextricably to the secret plot. But there is humor you can “safely” market. And I think you could safely market the mystery of the sideways twist without spoiling said twist: just show a few short clips and basically say, “Things are not as they seem” or ask, “What’s going on?”