Couched as a campy Scream redux, the movie is nothing if not surprising. But before we get to any of the real intrigue, be warned that this article is basically a massive spoiler. Consider yourself alerted.
As the film begins, viewers settle into the familiar mode of enjoying a mid-grade horror flick replete with cheesy acting, sexy potential victims and creepy theatrics. But from the first scenes, there are strong indications that there is much more in store than the average couple of hours of hacking, stabbing and torture.
This is a singularly odd work that starts slowly, builds for a bit, then goes straight into the rabbit hole, never to return aboveground for the remainder of the absurd spectacle.
But The Cabin in the Woods is definitely entertaining, and twisted writers Joss Whedon (creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer) and Drew Goddard found a way to include zombies, a werewolf, a killer robot, a merman and a ghost all in one strange tour de force.
So, an attempt to break down the plot: A group of five college kids are tricked into spending a weekend at a mysterious cabin in the woods. Actually, that's just the extremely abridged version Google offers when searching for the film, and was essentially what I (and probably most other people) expected when I entered the theater yesterday.
And it's the lack of prior knowledge about what I was in for, combined with the killer twist -- which is pretty unprecedented in its scope and level of execution -- that made the movie such a crazy experience.
From the formulaic horror show intro, Cabin descends into a tale of modernity meeting the ancients, in which world governments must conspire to feed ancient gods that demand human sacrifices in order to stay below.
The teens who find themselves in the cabin in the woods have no clue that they have been selected as these gods' next prey, but the audience comes to this horrific realization in a piecemeal manner. Then come the deaths.
Most of the cast gets killed off before they realize they've become anything more than regular old zombie fodder. But two of them discover the alternate world they've been thrown into, in which the federal government is conspiring to murder them in accordance with rituals of old.
And, in the moment from which the movie never returns, they enter a monster menagerie, where gore and violence reign and the movie goes off the rails in a wholly entertaining spectacle. As I said, it's an odd film.
It's not the easiest movie to review, as it's not the simplest movie to watch, but The Cabin in the Woods is a fun mind-bending romp for anyone seeking a good, clean head trip.
Click play below to watch the movie's trailer: