The Cabin in the Woods takes five friends to the remote titular cabin where bad things are going to happen. It sounds like a well-worn idea, but that is most definitely not the case with this film.
Of course, you won’t think that at the start when we’re greeted with the not-yet-famous five who seem like a group of clichés, with blonde cheerleader Jules (Anna Hutchison), her best friend, the innocent virgin Dana (Kristen Connolly), Jules’ sporty boyfriend Curt (Chris Hemsworth), their hippy, pot-smoking friend Marty (Fran Kranz) and, tagging along as a blind date for Dana, another sporty lad, Holden (Jesse Williams). But what lies beneath all this is something you’ll have to watch the film to find out.
As they head for the titular cabin in the woods, we see government workers Richard Sitterson (Richard Jenkins) and Steve Hadley (Bradley Whitford) chatting about their days and what they plan to do after the weekend as they have to work, but where exactly do they fit in to all this?
Yes, it’s not an easy film to review this because I can’t give away what’s about to happen as that would rob the film of its surprises.
Things start off fairly predictably, with the youngsters stopping off along the way to get some gas – or petrol – at a seemingly disused station that’s run by a bloke who looks more creepy than a room full of spiders. However, we know we’re about to explore the bizarre when, as their trailer drives through an underground stretch of road, an eagle tailing them tries to cross to the other side and… disintegrates when it hits a force field. (that bit’s in the trailer so I can mention it!)
The cabin has a room with a gross portrait of slaughtered animals that’s hiding a one-way mirror. As Marty (Fran Kranz) tells them that in pioneer days they had to make their own interrogation rooms, the guys and girls set off to find out whether there’s more of those in the cabin, but they have a different audience…
And what is the story of the Ancient Ones? And who are the Buckner family?
Well, like I said, I can’t say a lot, but suffice to say that I like the way the spooky opening credits crash straight into the movie when you think they’re going to go on for a few minutes more to list the main cast.
However, despite the twist in the idea, it does take almost half the movie before it actually starts to deliver the goods. That said, when it does, BOY, does it deliver the goods! It’s just a shame it takes so long to get to that point. They could easily have cut 10 mins or so out, even if it does only have a slim 95-minute running time to begin with.
And it’s the twist that makes some of the grossness work better than normal thesedays, as it throws a unique slant on the slasher genre.
If I had any downsides about the disc, I had an issue with my review copy where, about 10 times during the film, there was a lengthy pause between scenes or camera angles.
Presented in the original 2.35:1 theatrical ratio and in 1080p high definition, the picture is sharp and detailed with no problems whatsoever, delivering perfectly all that you are about to witness (which I can’t reveal!) For the record, I’m watching on a Panasonic 37″ Plasma screen via a Samsung BD-P1500 Blu-ray player.
As for the sound, this is in 7.1 DTS HD Master Audio, or DTS 5.1 for those, like me, without the full technical dohickey. It’s an absolute treat from start to finish, especially with Wonderful subwoofer effects in the last third.
The extras are as follows and, unfortunately, there are no subtitles on them. ONLY read this segment AFTER you’ve watched the film:
- BonusView: It’s Not What You Think: This is one of those extras about the film with picture-in-picture mode, rather like an audio commentary but with some extra content from time to time. Worth it if you really want to see more about it. However, while there are 20 of these, the chapters just follow the film itself rather than chaptering the extra scenes and, for some reason, when viewing the film through my amplifier, I can only get the sound of the film even though I have ‘BonusView’ mode on. However, if I mute my amp and put my TV’s volume up, which is taking the HDMI cable from the Blu-ray player, then I hear the BonusView content. Bizarre!
- We Are Not Who We Are: Making The Cabin in the Woods (28:33): Comment from the cast and crew, starting with writer/director Drew Goddard and writer/producer Joss Whedon, with on-set footage mixed in. Drew tells us that while there are elements in the film for horror movie fans, you don’t have to have watched oodles of horror films to make the most of what’s in the film.
It’s a great segment that tells you a lot that you need to know about the behind the scenes of the movie.
- The Secret Secret Stash (13:07): Two segments here. One from Fran Kranz (Marty), talking about what gets his character high, and one from Joss Whedon where he gives us a brief tour of the cabin.
- An Army of Nightmares: Make-up and Animatronic EffectsF (12:10): All of your worst nightmares come true as the special effects team summarise how they put together the monsters that appear onscreen, a lot of which were not made using CGI. This is a wonderful supplemental for getting a proper look at some of the baddies that just flash by during the film proper.
- Primal Terror Visual Effects (12:07): A segment about only using CGI when they really had to, to keep the horror as real as possible.
- Wonder Con Q&A (27:30): Convention time and a Q&A featuring Drew Goddard and Joss Whedon.
- DTS Sound Check: A way to check if all 7 speakers are functional… I have just five, though.
- Audio commentary: with writer/director Drew Goddard and writer/producer Joss Whedon.
The menu mixes clips of film with a short piece of the theme.
There are subtitles in English only and the chaptering really isn’t enough with a mere 16 over the 95-minute running time.
Running time: 95 minutes
Cat no: LGB94935
Released: September 24th 2012
Picture: 1080p High Definition
Sound: 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, DTS 5.1, Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English for hearing-impaired
Widescreen: 2.35:1 (Super 35)
Disc Format: BD50
Director: Drew Goddard
Producer: Joss Whedon
Screenplay: Drew Goddard and Joss Whedon
Music: David Julyan
Dana: Kristen Connolly
Curt: Chris Hemsworth
Jules: Anna Hutchison
Marty: Fran Kranz
Holden: Jesse Williams
Richard Sitterson: Richard Jenkins
Steve Hadley: Bradley Whitford
Daniel Truman: Brian White
Wendy Lin: Amy Acker
Mordecai: Tim DeZarn
Ronald The Intern: Tom Lenk
Mathew Buckner: Dan Payne
Patience Buckner: Jodelle Ferland
Father Buckner: Dan Shea
Mother Buckner: Maya Massar
Judah Buckner: Matt Drake
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.