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Any of army of nightmares, huh? Let's get this party started.


The Cabin in the Woods
(2011)

(WARNING: SPOILERS) Highly entertaining, but not the reinvention of the wheel that many of the geek-outs over it would have you believe. Indeed, in many respects this is fairly par for the course Joss Whedon fare, with his expected trickiness, self-consciousness and stock characters with stock dialogue thrown wholesale into the horror genre (Buffy may have had certain of the trappings, but it wasn’t really horror).

If the teens-in-peril slasher by way of The Truman Show premise is diverting enough (one character is called Truman, in case we needed telling), the sum total is so pleased with itself that it never manages to be even vaguely unsettling. And it suffers from the same problem as Avengers; Whedon's at his best when he can tease out a plot over six or more hours. Without that pace and indulgence of character, you're barraged by constant punchlines. I'd argue that In the Mouth of Madness tapped a similar vein of post-modern horror in a more subtle and effective way,

But it can be a problem when you've been primed that something is cleverer than much else out there; you end up regarding anything less than genius as a bit of a failure. There is a huge amount to enjoy in Cabin, and it was a lot of fun to see actors like Bradley Whitford and Richard Jenkins spouting Whedonisms (although - again like Avengers - some of the writer’s shtick is wearing a bit thin; even Whitford couldn't sell breaking a dramatic moment with a cry of "Tequila!"). While the riffing on standard characters and references to Evil Dead ("Angry molesting tree") aren't that original when we had Scream overloading on genre referencing only... okay 15 years ago, the licence to run with it in places is quite satisfying (the menagerie of grotesques, the occasional stand-out bad taste line, such as "How hard is it to kill nine year-olds?") 

Also nice to see a Howling-esque werewolf, and fun to spot Whedon alumni in various roles both large and small. I wondered who "Kevin" was supposed to be on the monster chart, and wasn't the line "We are not who we are" from The X-FilesIce?

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