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Cabin in the Woods, a story true to its genre


I love horror movies — or rather, I love good horror movies — and I sure as heck don’t see many good ones anymore. 

I very rarely see any in theaters because pretty much all modern horror films forsake storytelling and suspense for blood, gore and mindless jump scares every couple minutes.

Yes, I’m complaining about how it is and yearning for how it used to be, again. My readers (both of them) who don’t know me probably imagine me in my mid-to-late 40s, writing all my columns from my parents’ basement. Well, joke’s on you! My parents don’t have a basement!

Anyway, “The Cabin in the Woods” is a new horror film that, for the most part, does not follow those recent, awful trends of the genre. In fact, the movie functions as a loving, yet uncompromising critique of modern horror. 

The story is, up front at least, as simple and time-honored as you could possibly imagine. A group of pretty college kids go to a remote cabin for the weekend, and bloody shenanigans ensue.

The movie runs through just about every cliché in the book in the first half, in some places even becoming a shot-for-shot remake of “The Evil Dead.” The characters are all the basic horror archetypes: the doe-eyed virgin, the slutty blond, the smart guy, the stoner, the jock alpha male. 

All of this is as average as it gets, except of course this is no ordinary cabin (in the woods). 

Here’s the twist: The cabin and the surrounding woods are all contained within a computerized “Hunger Games”-like cage, and a group of technicians are sitting in a control room with complete control over the environment and influence on the actions of the kids. 

The goal of these “puppeteers” seems to be that all our protagonists reach a grisly demise. 

I won’t spoil the whys and the hows, but let’s just say the puppeteers’ main purpose is a lot bigger than just killing some random kids.

As I said, I don’t normally see horror films in the theater, but “The Cabin in the Woods” was co-written and produced by one of my personal heroes: Joss Whedon, creator of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” (which is my favorite television series of all time), “Angel” and “Firefly” and writer and director of the upcoming “The Avengers.” 

With “The Cabin in the Woods,” Whedon returns to the darkly comic and intelligent horror that made his earlier shows so great. Along with “Cloverfield” writer Drew Goddard, Whedon has crafted a horror tale that keeps you on your toes and never does what you think it’s going to do. 

The movie is bloody without being too bloody and never lingers on the agony of its characters like so many other horror films do today. The characters never behave like idiots (except for one moment, more on that in a moment) and are generally pretty well-written if never truly deep or complex. The movie is more story-driven than character-driven.

I won’t spoil it, but my only real problem was the ending, or rather the way certain characters behaved in the end and not necessarily the ending itself. 

“The Cabin in the Woods” is a ride, and the best kind of ride. 

It has thrills and chills, laughs and scares and will stick with you after you’ve left the theater. In short, it’s pretty darn entertaining. What else could you ask for?