The universe created for a movie is never really self-contained. We're just seeing one side, or with sequels a few sides, of a much larger story. What Drew Goddard and co-writer/producer Joss Whedon give us is the side of their story that's a little bit of everything, horror, comedy, existential drama (a bit), and bureaucracy. I wish I could know more about its inner-workings, but I'll have to settle for great acting, scares, laughs, and the best critique of the horror genre since the Scream series.
In Cabin in the Woods, five friends: Dana (Kristen Connolly), Curt (Chris Hemsworth), Jules (Anna Hutchison), Marty (Fran Kranz), and Holden (Jesse Williams) vacation at, obviously, a Cabin in the Woods. When the discover a basement cellar with all kinds of old knick-knacks, stuff starts getting weird. As they get picked off one by one, a conspiracy as old as time is unraveled.
The strength in this movie comes from cutting between the conspiracy and the, at first, standard hacking-and-slashing. Two of our big masterminds, played by Bradley Whitford and Richard Jenkins, give great, funny performances as they and their crew revel in everything they see happen to their victims. The strings they pull bring out the Scream-ness of the movie, as cliches are questioned, explained, or sometimes avoided. It's refreshing to watch after remembering that the only reasons I watched the last two Krueger movies is because those cliches were still relatively new to me.
Unfortunately, the conspiracy angle is where the problem is too, as I always wanted more from the mastermind side of things than what I saw. Some things like how the masterminds developed this world around a cabin Curt's heard of before is open to interpretation. Nothing too outlandish there, it just raises some questions.
To get my fix, I'll have to turn to fan fiction. Getting over that, what's left is a very enjoyable movie. The cast assembled is one of the best for a movie in this genre. Don't set your standards too low for the performances just because of the movie's title, since everyone here delivers. The writing and directing are fairly tight, as there's never a dull moment and jump scares are kept at an absolute minimum. They're not what this movie is about. And finally, the only thing left to say is that when it hits the fan, and the monsters are unleashed, this film will satisfy anyone who enjoys a drippy, red, horror movie set, and great creature design.
If you've read it here, you've probably read it everywhere else: this is not your typical horror movie. I was skeptical at first, mainly because I don't like the crap scared out of me, but I'm glad my sister badgered me into seeing this one.
I give it 4/5