When this reviewer thinks of some of the better horror movies of the last few years, a few select titles come to mind. “Insidious” was brilliantly creepy, as it managed to do something that the majority of horror flicks can’t accomplish: get under this writer’s skin. “House of the Devil” was a refreshing take on the haunted house concept, complete with a ritualistic climax. “Trick ‘r Treat” managed to embody everything about the Halloween experience, and managed to mix in several different elements of a horror film.
“Cabin in the Woods” has gotten some rave reviews over the last week, but these positive referrals are most definitely not due to the film’s ability to get under the skin. Simply put, it’s not scary at all. What it does offer is a story that is completely unlike any horror setup that came before. The problem is that it is hard to pinpoint whether or not that makes it a better film.
The film opens refreshingly with Richard Jenkins and Bradley Whitford(the antagonist from “Billy Madison”), and the scene is decidedly on the lighter side. It’s clear that these two will factor into the story, but at the moment the viewer doesn’t know who they are or what they do for work. After this opening, the film jumps back to the formula, introducing us to a handful of teenagers about to embark on a trip for a weekend getaway. Of course, they will stop for gas at a deserted station, be met by a creepy, ominous attendant, and continue on into the middle of nowhere before they find their destination.
That’s part of the issue with “Cabin in the Woods.” Before the story seems to go in a completely different direction, the scenes at the cabin aren’t really all that earth-shattering. Of course, there is the pair of students that get frisky as to not disappoint the horror cliche, and the screenplay even uses the very cliche to explain a plot point later on. However, this doesn’t seem to matter much once the story goes into full-swing. That’s both bad and good; the last half of the film seems to abandon the first half entirely, but at the same time it offers something that feels sort of fresh in the horror genre.
As much as “Cabin in the Woods” manages to twist up its premise and wring it into something totally different, it doesn’t make for a mind-blowing experience. This reviewer watched it all play out, but he didn’t really know how he felt about it once the credits began to roll. He stayed through until the last credit, hoping that there was some revelatory moment at the end of the film to tie it all together, but there wasn’t. People that love horror films should definitely check this one out, as decent films in the genre are sometimes few and far between. From that standpoint, it is worth a recommendation, but it’s hard to say that the film itself is great. Right now, “Cabin in the Woods” seems to be sitting in the neutral position. While that’s not saying it’s good nor bad, it’s definitely not a good thing to be lacking a passion for such a passionate medium.
“Cabin in the Woods” is playing in theaters throughout McHenry County now.