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REVIEW

The Cabin in the Woods (Blu-ray)

Lionsgate Home Entertainment || R || Sept 18, 2012


Reviewed by Sara Michelle Fetters

 

How Does The Blu-ray Disc Stack Up?

CONTENT

8  (out of 10)

THE VIDEO

8  (out of 10)

THE AUDIO

10  (out of 10)

THE EXTRAS

6  (out of 10)

OVERALL

8  (out of 10)

 

SYNOPSIS

 

“This is all most unpleasant. I know you can hear me. I hope you'll listen. You won't get out of this complex alive. What I want you to try to understand is that you mustn't. Your deaths will avert countless others. You've seen horrible things: an army of nightmare creatures. And they are real. But they are nothing compared to what lies beneath us. There is a greater good, and for that you must be sacrificed. Forgive us... and let us end it quickly.”

-      The Director

 

CRITIQUE

 

Here’s what I wrote about this film back in April:

 

“Five college friends, Dana (Kristen Connolly), Curt (Chris Hemsworth), Jules (Anna Hutchison), Marty (Fran Kranz) and Holden (Jesse Williams), head for a weekend in the country staying at a secluded cabin deep in the middle of a mountainous section of the woods. While there, they discover a mysterious cadre of eerie items deep within the cellar, unintentionally unleashing a bloody force that will stalk, terrorize and dismember them one-by-one. That, however, is only half the story.

 

What’s the rest? Don’t look at me for answers, because the fun of Cloverfield writer Drew Goddard’s directorial debut The Cabin in the Woods is discovering all its twists, turns and clever slight-of-hands. Working from an inspired script co-written with Joss Whedon, the pair’s time together going all the way back to their ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ and ‘Angel’ heydays, Goddard has assembled a wickedly nasty and exuberantly energetic thrill ride that embraces the schlock aesthetics of its genre just as completely as it assuredly dismantles them. It is the most agreeably effervescent and enjoyable deconstruction of horror clichés since the original Scream, the filmmakers and their game cast of veterans and newcomers delivering a sensational monster-mash the likes of which I’m not quite sure I’ve ever seen before.

 

It’s hard for me to say more. The film’s trailers and commercials have already gone too far in spoiling a number of the surprises, and even though Goddard and Whedon reveal their central secret during the film’s hilariously inspired pre-credits sequence that doesn’t mean they come even close to unveiling all their cards. In many ways, they approach the film like Duncan Jones did with both Moon and Source Code, not so much keeping their central conceits hidden until the end credits but doling out information judiciously as narrative requires.

 

I love this approach. While sometimes having a big ‘Wow!’ moment can work for a film (i.e. The Usual Suspects, The Sixth Sense), more often than not the viewer spends so much time trying to figure out what said twist will be it ends up coloring one’s enjoyment of the picture in a negative fashion. The tract Goddard and Whedon use allows characters to expand and explore more realistically, making the viewer care for what is going on and what is happening then they would have otherwise.

 

Even better, I love how the duo present their central quintet as smart and sophisticated, allowing circumstance (and other, better left unspoken devices) to slowly transform them into the required stereotypes. In many ways Dana, Jules, Marty and the rest become like the rest of us, cogs in a very large machine we rarely see and barely understand. They are devices to be manipulated, their collective battle to undo what’s being done to them almost analogous to the state of political disinformation assaulting us during this current presidential election season.

 

Not that I’m reading more into this than is necessary. At its heart, The Cabin in the Woods is a genre riff composed by two master musicians who know the classics inside and out. There pay gorily gentle homage to Night of the Living Dead, Suspiria, Evil Dead, Japanese horror movies, Dead Alive, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Halloween, Fright Night, Hellraiser, Friday the 13th and just about everything else with shocking ease. Catching all the references borders on impossible (I swear I saw one for Chopping Mall of all things), and it will take multiple viewings to come even close to trying to.

 

But the biggest influences, without a doubt, have to be the works of director John Carpenter and the writings of H.P. Lovecraft. The movie is a delicately brutal love letter to them, and anyone familiar with either is going to discover countless layers to Goddard and Whedon’s mythology that can be explicitly linked to both men. The explosively cynical finale is one part The Thing, two parts Prince of Darkness and three parts In the Mouth of Madness, making for the kind of apocalyptically satisfying denouement fans will be talking rhapsodically about for eons.

 

I’m not going to say anything more. The truth is that The Cabin in the Woods is a winner in all the ways that count. It is a movie I can’t wait to watch again, one I’m sure will become an annual staple around Halloween, the Blu-ray getting used with far more frequency than I should probably admit. Goddard shows real promise as a director, engineering an intricate spectacle of mayhem and monsters that doesn’t forget that the human element is just as important as the supernatural one.”

 

Not a lot more to add. This movie holds up beautifully, proving itself to be hugely entertaining each and every viewing. Easily one of the absolute best films I’ve seen this year.

 

THE VIDEO

 

The Cabin in the Woods is presented on a dual-layer 50GB Blu-ray MPEG-4 AVC Video with a 2.40:1/1080p transfer.

 

THE AUDIO

 

This Blu-ray features an English DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 soundtrack and comes with optional English SDH and Spanish subtitles.

 

THE EXTRAS

 

Extras here include:

 

·         Audio Commentary with writer/director Drew Goddard and writer/producer Joss Whedon – Outstanding, Goddard and Whedon as funny as you expect them to be while also as hugely informative as you hope. A fun listen, this track only increased my appreciation for the film as a whole.

·         It's Not What You Think: The Cabin in the Woods Bonus View Mode – Somewhat disappointing, this Picture-in-Picture option does have its moments, just not enough of them as far as I was concerned.

·         We Are Not Who We Are: Making The Cabin in the Woods (28:33) – Great making-of featurette with Whedon and Goddard unsurprisingly hogging the spotlight, showcasing how the film came together and talking about all the different elements that inspired them to write the script.

·         The Secret Secret Stash (13:07) – Two separate featurettes, neither of which are as interesting or as intriguing as I’d hoped they would have been.

·         An Army of Nightmares: Makeup and Animatronic Effects (12:10) – Great featurette looking primarily at the practical creature effects used so magnificently throughout the actual motion picture itself.

·         Primal Terror: Visual Effects (12:07) – This one covers the computer generated effects, and while it’s interesting, it doesn’t carry nearly as much weight as the short regarding the practical effects.

·         Wonder-Con Q&A (27:30) – Whedon and Goddard take the stage and answer questions, and it’s borderline as awesome as you’d hope it would be.

·         Original Theatrical Trailer (2:27)

 

It’s a solid set, the commentary track and the featurettes on the creature effects the notable highlights. I wish the PiP track was a bit better, but otherwise as special features go the ones on this Blu-ray are pretty terrific.

 

FINAL THOUGHTS

 

The Cabin in the Woods is one of the better films I’ve seen this year. For genre fans, owning this Blu-ray is essential. For everyone else, giving it at least a cursory glance is equally so.

 

VERDICT: HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

 

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Review posted on Sep 18, 2012 | Share this article | Top of Page


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