Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Review of the Week: The Cabin in the Woods (Film)

Horror films are generally a no-go area with me. All the blood, the jumping out of my seat and into the lap of the person next to me, the surprises and the endless nightmares; yeah, that's not really my cup of tea. But in recent months, surrounded by friends who find going out to abandoned golf courses and play parks at midnight on a cold evening a doddle, my repertoire of films has moved from comedies to more darker material.

Which is why I was interested in the Cabin in the Woods.  Directed by Drew Goddard, who has penned hits such as Lost and Alias,  reviews have  generally been positive for the horror film. It  features a cast that includes rising star Chris Hemsworth and sci-fi Queen Sigourney Weaver, amongst others. Presumably ticking all the right boxes, I thought I would pluck up the courage, grow a pair and watch it on the big screen.

The film, following five friends who set out for a weekend vacation in the middle of a quiet and presumably deserted wood, uses a tried and tested narrative which is pretty predictable from the on-set. You know there's going to be something lurking in those woods, you know the characters are going to die etc. You don't need to be Sherlock to work this one out. So far, I'm unimpressed.

But within this narrative lies a complex and secretive sub-plot, where technicians at a secret office are monitoring the activities of the five students.

What proves quite confusing at times turns into a compelling and slightly bewildering scenario which sees the technicians using the five characters as puppets, controlling them and trying to 'set up' their deaths by tempting them into choosing their own fate. The female protagonist Dana, portrayed by the excellent Kristen Connolly, ultimately chooses the fate of the five by reading an extract from a diary about a family of zombies who rise from the dead.

So what happens next? Well, one by one, each character is presumably murdered by the family of zombies, whilst the technicians look on, hoping that eventually all four will die, leaving Dana to choose her own fate.

As usual with horror films, the killing of each character is both nasty and monotonous, leaving you squirming in your seat as various metal implements are used against each character for what seems an age. It's not pleasant, but it certainly reaffirms the horror genre.

As the film reaches a climax, with all four character presumably dead, we're left with a nail-biting scene between Dana and one of the zombies, whilst the security staff cheer at completing the task of eliminating all four of the students, which it later transpires was to prevent "The Ancient Ones", a group of gods, from uprising and destroying Earth and mankind. Bizarre right?

Well, just as the champagne bottles burst open, a moment of equilibrium puts a spanner in the works, as one of the four, Marty played by the quite amusing Fran Kranz, turns up and helps kill off the remaining zombies. Despite being 'stoned' throughout most of the plot, he works out what most of the audience had failed to understand, and together with Dana, decide to hunt down the security staff who are behind the operation.

The plot thickens, with a whole collection of gruesome characters turning up as the mystery behind the 'Gods' and the 'Security team' unravels into a seemingly endless pool of blood, sweat and more blood. Towards the end, Sigourney Weaver turns up in a brisk cameo to smooth out any misunderstanding that the characters, or indeed the audience has, before Mother Earth is destroyed by the spirits.

It sounds pretty bizarre, and to tell you the truth, the whole thing was. I came out of the cinema wondering what on earth had just happened over the last 95 minutes. The film is definitely quirky, in the respect that the storyline is so twisted and odd that it probably takes at least two sittings to understand what's going on. But it's no Inception, it did keep my interest throughout with its mixture of tension and horror, although I didn't quite jump out of my seat.

It's a film that leaves you confused, but it's one that will keep you talking. Like the recent Paranormal Activity, you're either going to love it or hate it, but to truly grasp the wicked storyline behind it, you really need to watch it!

3/5 stars

Picture Courtesy of Wikipedia

1 comment:

  1. Good review Kieran. This is a hell of a fun movie that features twists that got better and better as the film went on. It’s crazy that horror films can be this fun and entertaining just by smart and witty writing. However, it won’t last for too long so we might as well enjoy it while Whedon and Goodard are around.