Cabin Fever, Genre Slasher

Cabin in the Woods
Cabin in the Woods

We all have different ways of energizing ourselves in the morning. Some people jog. Some people drink coffee. Some people watch violent horror films.

This past Saturday, I caught a 10 a.m. showing of “The Cabin in the Woods,” and I learned two very important things. First, apparently theaters have 10 a.m. showings. Second, starting your day with a horror film, while not ideal, is actually pretty awesome. The film just has to be as original, entertaining and frightening as “The Cabin in the Woods.”

Don’t let the advertisements fool you into thinking this is just another shitty horror film. Director Drew Goddard’s film turns the genre on its head. Equal parts parody and homage, the film mocks and employs every horror convention. College kids? Check. Creepy cabin? Check. Secret, high-tech facility orchestrating everything? Wait…

That’s something you find out in the first 10 minutes. For the rest of the film, you get to put all the pieces together. I’m not a horror expert by any means, but I’ve seen enough films in the genre to understand the need for that plot point. The most egregiously awful contributions to the American horror oeuvre often come off as pointless and voyeuristic, as does the purpose and activity of the secret corporation in “The Cabin in the Woods.” Well played.

Despite being sardonically aware of its genre, Goddard’s film doesn’t abandon the art of good old-fashioned scares and gore. I probably watched a solid third of the film through my fingers. Unlike the stupid camp it ridicules, the film’s attempts at comic relief actually work. Fran Kranz is almost perfect as the stoner archetype and Bradley Whitford, one of the facility’s technicians, gets a lot of laughs with his musings on mermen.

I must admit my motivation for seeing the film was Joss Whedon, who produced and co-wrote the film with Goddard. I’m a huge fan of his. I think this is a welcome addition to his canon, which expands next month with “The Avengers.”

Even if you’re not a Whedon nerd or a horror buff, “The Cabin in the Woods” is a fantastic resuscitation of the genre we know and love. Whether you see it at 10 a.m. or 10 p.m., you’ll definitely be on the edge of your seat.

3 stars