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The Cabin In The Woods review

Horror set in...a cabin in the woods.

Then come Hieronymus Bosch-style paintings of writhing, torn bodies arranged into hellishly elaborate torture shows. Cut to… two middle-aged office workers (Richard Jenkins, Bradley Whitford) driving down the street, discussing the day’s work before them: grey environment, white shirts and, for a horror movie promising nubile teens in stock scenarios, unexpected.

Slam! THE CABIN IN THE WOODS (block caps, blood red) takes up the entire width and depth of the screen. Then we’re on campus listening to MOR rock and watching hottie Jules (Anna Hutchison), jock Curt (Chris Hemsworth, pre- Thor ), scholar Holden (Jesse Williams), virgin (well, almost…) Dana (Kristen Connolly) and stoner Marty (Fran Kranz) loading up a camper van.

It starts with the archetypal characters and continues with their encounter, en route, with a local redneck (aka The Harbinger). “I’ve seen plenty come and go,” he gravely intones, and moments later the camera is offering the obligatory overhead shot of their vehicle wending its way up a mountain road. OK, time out.

Only, this review has 400 words left to run. So, we’ll tread carefully, respectfully, and be sure to give away less than you’ll glean from the trailer, but you might want to clock out now and return when you’ve seen the film.

SPOILER ALERT!

Laughter lines

Of course, it’s arguable that all this pulling back of the curtain and drawing attention to the genre’s mechanics hinders viewers from truly investing in the characters: we are, after all, watching a movie, a fact we’re never allowed to forget.

But we certainly like the protagonists, who, it should be noted, subvert expectations as frequently as they cleave to them. The dialogue, meanwhile, is laugh-out-loud funny.

Take the scene where the friends huddle in the cabin’s basement surrounded by iconic bric-a-brac such as dolls, bridal gowns and puzzle boxes. “I’m drawing a line in the fucking sand here,” yelps pothead Marty as Dana opens a cobwebby journal. “Do not read the Latin…”

In the meantime, some of its tropes have surfaced in, bizarrely, Hostel: Part III , and, naturally, the fourth installment of Wes Craven’s famous franchise. But this is the real scream, sure to appeal to fans and non-fans alike.

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