If there was a pantheon of geek gods, Joss Whedon would be right up there with the likes of Neil Gaiman, Alan Moore, Jim Lee, Frank Miller, Guillermo Del Toro, and the Four Horsemen, tossing back goblets of wine and drunkenly hurling lightning bolts down upon the jocks and cheerleaders.
I’ve been a fan of Whedon’s since I first started watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Everything the man has done after that has immediately made it into my list of favorite things. Angel, Dollhouse, Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog… All of it better than a hand job from Orion slave girl.
Then Mr. Whedon graduated to film with the sequel to his television series Firefly, the feature film Serenity. Despite working with a shoestring budget (for Hollywood, anyway) and on a property that didn’t have a huge amount of audience recall, he still made a movie that I continue to enjoy as much as Jackson’s Lord of the Rings.
Aside from creating thoughtful television shows and directing amazing films, Whedon is also known as a prolific writer. He was the author of one of the best runs in the X-Men’s recent history (See the Astonishing X-Men Omnibus) and he’s had a hand in things like Toy Story and Atlantis: The Lost Empire, two of my favorite Disney films.
Now he’s gone and collaborated again with his fellow writer, Drew Goddard (Cloverfield, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Alias, Lost) and created another awesome property: The Cabin in the Woods.
The Cabin in the Woods is a horror movie that knows about all the conventions of its own genre and then proceeds to throw them in your face.
If you’ve ever seen a “cabin in the woods” movie (see Evil Dead or Evil Dead II) you know what these movies are about. A group of kids goes to a cabin in the woods to drink, smoke weed, and have R-rated sex. Then something bad happens to them and they are killed off one by one in successively more disturbing ways.
Whedon and Goddard’s The Cabin in the Woods starts out that way, but it presents a few surprises that I won’t spoil by talking about it (if you really want to know, you can pick up any of the 3 big newspapers as they’re all full of adverts and reviews that reveal the whole story).
The film boasts a very good cast of actors that include Chris Hemsworth (Thor), Bradley Whitford (The West Wing), a few names from Whedon’s other series (I heart Amy Acker), and some smaller names that still manage to hold their own. Oh, and Sigourney Weaver.
The script is great (these guys do know what they’re doing after all) but does at times feel like an overly long episode of Buffy or Angel. Many of the themes involved in the story feel reminiscent of Joss’ old work, and the plot develops a lot like those old serial stories. For some, that quality might be a turn off. For me, a fan of their body of work, it just means it’s equally as watchable as any of those shows.
One of the best things about Joss Whedon’s series was always the time they took to make really interesting looking monsters and villains. The Cabin in the Woods has its own share of bad guys as well, some of them downright creepy. They’ve even imported a few from Whedon’s old properties, like one of the Reavers from Firefly (if a Reaver being there doesn’t make sense, it will after you watch the movie)