The thing that was most amazing about The Sixth Sense was not so much the surprise ending but the fact that nobody exposed that ending. People who went to the film months after it opened were still surprised by the final big twist. The press didn’t mention it in reviews which helped the mysterious elements that draped the film. This is where we start with The Cabin in the Woods. It is the kind of film where you can not say too much or it will spoil all the fun.
The film opens with a group of college kids getting ready to go visit (of all things) a cabin in the woods. Dana (Kristen Connolly) is just over an affair with her professor, Marty (Frank Kranz) is the stoner friend, Curt (Chris Hemsworth) is the jock, Jules (Anna Hutchison) is the ‘bad girl’, and the new guy Holden (Jesse Williams). The five travel to the backwoods in an old style camper/RV to get away from it all.
At the same time, they are being monitored by two guys (Richard Jenkins and Bradley Whitford) in an underground bunker. A military man watches over what they do and questions the motives of what they are doing. The first big question is just what actually is going on and how does this affect the kids.
The five kids drive toward the cabin and stop to get gas. They run across a weird old man straight out of central casting of horror flicks. After they have the encounter and drive away, the old man contacts the guys in the bunker and the mystery gets more complicated. The kids go through a tunnel that for some reason has a computer generated gate.
To tell more would spoil all the surprises. What the film does is take the conventions of the 1970’s style horror movie and give a modern CGI twist. After they drive toward all the clichés of the genre, it makes a serious left turn that is about ten degrees past brilliant. This film is a thrill ride with all the jumping moments of a haunted house while still holding on to modern sensibilities.
The film is directed by Drew Goddard, who is also the co-writer with the great Joss Whedon. They have taken what should be an old style killer in the woods flick and twisted it to a macabre degree. While some may hate the very end, the journey to get there is the best aspect of the film. The ending makes sense within the general context of the parameters of what is laid out, it just will feel like a cheat to some members of the audience.
Frank Kranz plays our stoner and steals just about every scene he is in. He is the first one who feels that something is just not right with every aspect of what they are experiencing. He begins to figure out exactly what is going on with his friends but his THC haze is more of a brick wall to pure thought.
There is a very good chance that The Cabin in the Woods will end up on my best of 2012 list. While it may not appeal to everyone, for the film geek/fanboy that dwells inside of every film critic this is somewhere between manna and ambrosia.