I scored tickets to an advanced screening of The Cabin in the Woods for last night. As you might have notice, if you’ve read my other blogs, I don’t do scary and icky. What a dilemma. A movie co-written by Joss Whedon and, Angel scribe, Drew Goddard provides an obvious draw for any Whedon fan but it’s a horror movie. Whedonverse. Horror movie. Whedonverse. Horror movie. Tough call but the Whedonverse won out. It didn’t hurt that one of my all-time favorites, Amy Acker, would be there along with Drew Goddard, who also directed. How could I pass that up? So, I took a jacket to cover my eyes and braced myself.
As I said, I don’t do horror so I don’t have a lot to compare it to but I’m fairly certain that audiences aren’t usually laughing their asses off within the first minutes of most scary movies. And I’m going to guess that they aren’t still laughing their asses off until the very end. The chemistry of the five protagonists helped. You instantly liked all of them. Of course, they’re all token horror movie characters—dumb athletes, dumb blonde, and dumb stoner. Surprise—they’re all brainiacs, nice touch. Even the sexy blonde is a pre-med student. The banter between them is great but Fran Kranz’s comic timing really shined and he pulled it all together. Also, I think if this movie had come out in 2009, when it was supposed to, many would have noticed Chris Hemsworth and said “keep an eye on that one, he’s going place.” Since we know him, though, as George Kirk and Thor, we’re aware of his screen presence. The amazing supporting cast of Richard Jenkins, Bradley Whitford, and Amy Acker has their own hilarious storyline which amps up the mystery and keeps the audience wondering how it's all going to fit together.
Just as I started to let my guard down, the scariness commenced. Goodard and Whedon display their admiration for the genre and gave a nod to lots of classics. I jumped, screamed, and hid my eyes aplenty. I also spent time trying to figure out what was going to happen and why. This wasn’t a single-track, monster, blood-a-thon movie, though there's plenty of that for serious horror fans. The complex narrative required paying attention. Not only was it unclear where the next bogeyman would come from, you weren’t sure where the story was taking you. I’m working hard not to give anything away. I’m just going to say, if you like to have your brain challenged while your heart is racing, then this is the movie for you. Ironically, because of the complexity of the story, I want to go back and see it again. As someone said to me last night, this might be my gateway drug to horror movies. Only if all horror movies are this smart and funny.
Finally, from a fan’s perspective, Amy Acker and Drew Goddard were wonderful. Besides the question and answer session after the movie, they both talked with every attendee that wanted to meet them and signed autographs. Drew Goddard went to school locally (didn’t know that) and could have excused himself. I’m sure he had friends waiting to see them. Instead, he answered all questions and sincerely thanked each person for coming. That’s very impressive.