‘The Cabin in the Woods’ Review

Published 3 years ago by , Updated November 26th, 2014 at 7:54 pm,

The Cabin in the Woods Kristen Connolly The Cabin in the Woods Review

Anyone willing to suspend a bit of disbelief and not get too bogged down in the film’s logic will likely be ready for an entertaining and worthwhile experience.

The ups and downs of The Cabin in the Woods release delay had little to do with co-writer and producer Joss Whedon, or writer-turned-director Drew Goddard’s movie; rather, the horror genre hybrid was simply caught in the middle of the MGM Studios collapse. Despite a few big names being attached to the long-withheld project – Avengers star Chris Hemsworth and director Joss Whedon -  does The Cabin in the Woods actually offer a fresh and enjoyable horror experience? Or is the film little more than a middle-of-the-road effort that could have easily been left on the shelf?

Much like Eli Craig’s tongue-in-cheek effort, Tucker & Dale vs. Evil, The Cabin in the Woods is far-from a typical horror film. The trailers for the movie spoil one of the most intriguing elements – which not only differentiates the project from regular slasher films, but also gives the writers and cast an opportunity to poke fun at the cliches of the genre without entirely undermining the scares.

In an effort to prevent spoiling the film for others, I’m not going to directly discuss the “twist” or where the filmmakers take the especially ambitious premise; however, I will say that, for readers who are already interested in checking out the film, it’s unlikely that the experience is going to disappoint. The Cabin in the Woods is hardly the most serious, or smartest, horror film audiences will have seen in a while – there are plenty of eye-roll-inducing dialogue moments and the over-arching setup might be hard for some moviegoers to accept – but, for anyone that’s ready for an entertaining (albeit over-the-top) horror movie, avoid the film’s spoiler-filled trailer and head to your favorite cineplex knowing as little as possible.

The Cabin in the Woods Cast The Cabin in the Woods Review

Curt (Chris Hemsworth), Holden (Jesse Williams), Jules (Anna Hutchison), Marty (Fran Kranz) and Dana (Kristen Connolly) in ‘The Cabin in the Woods.’

On the surface level, the story follows five friends Curt (Chris Hemsworth), Holden (Jesse Williams), Jules (Anna Hutchison), Marty (Fran Kranz) and Dana (Kristen Connolly) as they journey up to an isolated cabin for a weekend of drinking, swimming, truth or dare, and other scandalous behavior typically associated with college student getaways. A pre-trip meet up spells out the group dynamics: Dana is the good girl, Curt and Jules play-against stereotype as a hot blond and jock couple that in addition to good looks are also accomplished students, Holden is Curt’s bookish but still charming friend, and Marty is the group’s lovable pot-smoker.

Once on the road, the group encounter an ill-tempered gas pump attendant that, despite his disdain for the college kids, warns the group about their destination – asserting that visitors regularly disappear up in the woods. Dismissing the warnings, the group reach the cabin where, that’s right, things quickly devolve into bloody mayhem.

While many of the proceeding events center around good girl Dana, all of the friends are utilized in interesting ways – especially as the film toys more and more with genre stereotypes. As mentioned, these aren’t the dumb college kids audiences normally see in slasher-type films – and, while the plot can be somewhat convenient at times, there are plenty of interesting twists that arise out of having characters that, despite their basic caricature origins, defy expectation by making different (and, subsequently, more interesting) decisions. Given the difficult task of both embracing and rejecting these horror stereotypes, the cast (which, at the time, included a lot of untested talent) does a surprising job with the more serious moments – coupled with plenty of humorous nods to the audience.

The Cabin in the Woods Movie The Cabin in the Woods Review

The titular cabin in the woods

That said, The Cabin in the Woods isn’t just different because it includes smarter versions of typical horror archetypes, the over-arching premise of the film is a game-changer, splitting open the genre format more and more as the film progresses – resulting in a final act that offers some truly enjoyable reveals. Where other filmmakers might attempt to setup the project as the first in a multi-installment franchise, Whedon and Goddard hold nothing back – peeling layer after layer away until they show audiences all that there is to see in The Cabin in the Woods universe. Nearly every recurring piece of mythology, horror, or comedy eventually comes full circle – offering a solid pay-off for moviegoers who can lock into the film’s wild (or absurd), but still satisfying, setup.

While the movie has a lot going for it in the way of an intriguing twist, the “horror” in The Cabin in the Woods might be underwhelming for some die-hards in the genre. There are plenty of tense moments, but many of the surface-level scares will be familiar (and easily anticipated) by a good portion of the audience. This might initially come across as lazy set-piece planning, but as the story plays-out, it’s clear these were intentional choices by Goddard and Whedon – which works to the success (and logic) of the overarching plot.

Ultimately, The Cabin in the Woods is a surprisingly entertaining effort that works because it strikes a smart balance – embracing, as well as rejecting, the viewer’s expectations and knowledge of the horror genre. The set-up is executed with a tongue-in-cheek attitude but presented with a straight face that could be off-putting for viewers who are expecting a straightforward slasher film or a “gritty” and serious scare-fest (such as The Descent or Hostel). However, the final product succeeds in paying homage to the movies that inspired it, poking fun at the often static state of the horror genre, all while simultaneously delivering a few fresh surprises. Anyone willing to suspend a bit of disbelief and not get too bogged down in the film’s logic will likely be ready for an entertaining and worthwhile experience. For many, this trip to The Cabin in the Woods will have definitely been worth the wait.

If you’ve seen the movie and want to discuss details about the film without worrying about spoiling it for those who haven’t seen it, please head over to our The Cabin in the Woods Spoilers Discussion!

If you’re still on the fence about The Cabin in the Woods, check out the trailer below:


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For an in-depth discussion of the film by the Screen Rant team check out our Cabin in the Woods episode of the SR Underground podcast.

Follow me on Twitter @benkendrick - and let us know what you thought of the film below.

The Cabin in the Woods is Rated R for strong bloody horror violence and gore, language, drug use and some sexuality/nudity.

Our Rating:

3.5 out of 5
(Very Good)

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  1. I thought there will be a good story basing on how it started. But my night has been gone into nightmare when I found out that the beginning,middle and ending do not connect at all. If the watcher will look for the “moral lesson”,there were some… like revenge,awareness,judging a person by outward appearance,etc. But I cannot answer the “WHY”, “What For”, “how come” questions in this movie.
    I always watch horror movies almost every night but for cabin in the woods,I’m dissatisfied.I vote 2 for this but I regret I did.

  2. i like the horror film may be it scare me after watching it..:)

  3. You people are sick! Ya its just a movie but damn we get your point the humans are just your puppets. I hate this movie cause its egxactly what’s happening to our nation.

  4. Friday, September 21st

    I just got the Net Flix DVD of this film, I’ve already seen this movie in the theater due to wide praise by everyone and I can say that after waiting months to see it again: I’m buying the DvD. I can download this movie for free but I don’t care, I want Hollywood to hear my voice; I WANT MORE LIKE THIS AND I AM WILLING TO PAY FOR IT! Entertain me Caesar!

    Entertain me Kaiser…..

    Yes, Hollywood I am calling you by your true name, the name you so loathe…my Gut, Goad, the idol I worship because you speak my mental language.

    At least I admit it; Germani:Askenaz:am i

  5. Nice gore if you’re into that kind of stuff, but the storyline is absolutely ludicrous! The ending is extremely disappointing too.

  6. This is the worst movie i have ever seen. Ridiculos. And out of line. Please spend you $$$making better movies.

  7. I’m not sure if it’s really disappointing or just really hilarious how many people don’t like this film because they fail to understand that it’s a direct criticism of themselves as movie-goers. “Gotta keep the customer happy.”

    • Couldn’t agree more, Existentialist.

  8. 1 word, Awful. I was expecting something smarter than the average cliched horror and this was sold to me as being exactly that. Instead it was the opposite, probably the worst film I have ever seen, seriously. It went to bad, to ridiculous to just plain ludicrous. The “twist” was just stupid. I wasn’t expecting anything amazing or even realistic (horror films are rarely realistic) so my expectations weren’t high, but this was just rubbish, plain & simple. No consistency. It just jumps from one bad story line to a worse storyline and then finally a farcical “climax” that just makes you shake your head, roll your eyes and wish you hadn’t just wasted the last 1hr 40mins of your life. Avoid!

  9. No profanity or personal attacks? The F word was only used 672 times. Some parts were pretty good but for the most part everyone died so let’s smoke a joint . . .

  10. If you knows the work of H. P. Lovecraft and the Cthulhu Myths, The Cabin in the Woods is a intersting movie, very good. If you yet didn’t saw the movie, you should read Lovecraft (The Call of Cthulhu) first.

  11. I have never posted a movie review response before but this movie was so stupid that i had to. I love horror movies and this one ruined my night, right after I finally convinced my girlfriend that horror films were great. I do not know what the producers were thinking. Waste of our time and money. Do not watch this film.!

    • If you didn’t like this movie, its obvious that you missed the whole point of the film! Its making fun of all cliche horror movies, which is why its so hilarious!

  12. This was one of the most over rated movies since blair rich project. Come on it made know dam since at all.

  13. Worst movie EVER

  14. This what the worst movie i have ever seen ! Stupidist s*** of life!

  15. What a piece of s*** this movie -5 stars

  16. Worst movie I’ve ever watched….ever.

  17. Worst movie I’ve ever watched….ever. Don’t waste your time.

  18. Pure rubbish

  19. Shocked at the number of negative comments here. Loved the movie. It was clever and funny, well-paced, original, and significantly better than Tucker & Dale. Even my wife walked out happy, and she hates this genre with a passion.

  20. Anyone who didnt like this movie didn’t get it or is just a huge stick in the mud probably with no critical thinking skills. This movie was brilliant! The cliches are intentional, they shine a light on modern slasher horror in a way that is really cheeky but still intellectually interesting. The humor doesnt go so far to take away from the darkness of the story and the plot is full of surprises. The ending is one of those endings that if you were laying down you get your ass up and enjoy the disturbing, exciting ride. If you are looking for a realistic, give you nightmares kind of film this is not it. But if you are looking for a fun, creepy, hilarious, gorey, surprising and thought-provoking flick this IS it. I enjoyed every minute, the last 15 the very most!

    • What Plot Line?

    • A critical thinker would say Scream did the horror parody better than this piece of drivel. I love Joss but this is an epic fail. The first rule of satire is that you have to be authentic, the second is that you should be mildly interesting. This is neither. The characters, if you can call them that, were pawns, we get that, just like they’re pawns in all horror movies and we’re pawns for going to horror movies that suck…ha ha…I mean really doesn’t take a genius or a critical thinker to figure that out. I get the “twist,” is supposed to be some sort of commentary on Hollywood’s manipulation of us but he manipulation itself is so lame that it affected the enjoyment of the movies. Though I did like they’re poke at the Japanese…now that was funny especially since true horror fans are always talking about the genius of the Japanese. But this was plainly a rip off of Lovecraft and not in a good way but in a lazy way. The one thing I hate worse than bad cinema is lazy cinema. And this was a phone it in one.

  21. Typical American story line , film writers should actually go to school before writing anything …
    American horror stories are just becoming lamer and lamer …
    You should learn from the Japanese , even their cartoons have psychological concepts !

  22. the DUMBEST pointless non horror movie ive ever seen,!!! Theres noyhing realistic or new or scarey at all. It is beyond dumb has no plot and is pointless BOOOOOOOO!!!!

  23. the DUMBEST pointless non horror movie ive ever seen,!!! Theres noyhing realistic or new or scarey at all. It is beyond dumb has no plot and is pointless BOOOOOOOO!!!! Real dissapointment

  24. That was an awful waste of time. It’s so lame! Those who enjoyed this probably did because it gives them an excuse to explain the intention of the writer/director to those who didn’t ‘get it’ and so it makes them feel smarter somehow. “Duh, you missed the point of the movie”. Huh no, I understand: it’s a movie deconstructing the archetypal american teenage horror movie. BUT what’s the point if it’s boring and stupid??

    The hipsters are telling you it’s boring and stupid on purpose because it’s a subservise meta-movie. I’m telling you it’s just rubbish and I’m right.

    • And I’m telling you it’s a brilliant movie and I’m right and you are wrong. I’m no intellectual. I’m not particularly smart. I enjoyed this movie because its everything typical horror/slasher movies aren’t. It had humor, good writing, good acting, an actual plot and a heavy dose of self-irony, it isn’t afraid to mock itself and the movies it draws inspiration from. All in all, a million times better than the nonsense it draws upon (as you can tell, I can’t stand horror/slasher movies – they’re the Jeremy Kyle show of the cinema) and mocks. And I’m right, not you.

      • Self-irony? It’s pretentious.

        The only viewers who find this film intellectual and unique are those viewers under the age of 15. Go study for the SATs, kid. I’m tired of watching recycled garbage like this.

  25. The concept for this movie was good. It was unique. There were some humorous moments that made this movie enjoyable, but the whole movie in general was disconnected. From the moment the whole employees in the complany/corporation/governemnt? were killed, the story became disconnected. It seems like it was sensless killing. Also, as the movie came into an ending, the scenes ended too fast. There was no explanation and everything was happening too fast. Movies, ooks, tv shows are supposed to have believeable plot no matter what genre it is. It does not have to be tue in exactly like real life but it has to convince the audience. This did not do that. THe last disconnection is the whole ancients thing. THe beginning of the story seems to be seperate from the ending. It’s like the ending is a whole different story.

  26. This came out in 2012 and I still refer to it as the worst movie ever. I was extremely disappointed in the dialogue. It seemed more like a first draft rather than a finished piece. They should have spent more time on the script and the casting.