If you’re going to see one meta-horror-comedy this Easter, make it The Cabin in the Woods. You’re possibly not that spoilt for choice but, ever since Wes Craven launched the Scream franchise, there’s been a niche pocket of films that embrace the conventions of horror movies by subverting them. It’s a neat trick but it’s been done to death, and when even the Saw movies start getting self-referential, you know it’s time for a change. Step in Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard.
Their film is a true original and unlike any horror movie that’s preceded it. Sure, it draws heavily from heavyweights like Evil Dead and Nightmare on Elm Street, but takes these classic ingredients in a direction that is at worst a ‘wtf?’, and at best ‘OH MY GOD! BEST FILM EVER!!!’ It’s one of those films whose traction is going to come from a plethora of irritating Facebook statuses, written by people who think they’re the only ones who have seen the movie. It sounds like criticism but, genuinely, the strength of The Cabin in the Woods is the extent to which, leaving the cinema, we feel personally invested in keeping the secret of its success.
So I shan’t spoil the surprise for you. What’s important is that you go in with an open mind and an empty bladder. There’s a lot more on display here than just the hunky guy from Thor and a naked Power Ranger. What you’re watching is a film that is bored of the strained pseudo-plausibility of recent horror films, bored of killers who kidnap unfeasibly sexy Eastern European tourists for sexual blood sport, bored of movies where teens go to a deserted house and get picked off one by one. In response to this boredom, Whedon and Goddard have created a movie that is by turns funny and scary but always intensely surprising. The less you know about the film the better.