Cabin in the Woods is a movie. It begins as a horror movie. It was produced by Joss Whedon. It’s pretty great in a lot of ways.
That’s about all I can really say without treading close to spoiler territory, and the reason that’s the case is that the movie takes such a huge number of twists and turns that even brief mention of the first one or two of them would start to give away a huge amount of plot. Spoiling those sorts of things (even though one is given away in the trailer and is actually indirectly brought up in the very first scene of the movie) would probably take a lot of the surprise factor out of it.
And it’s good surprise factor. Really! There are plenty of movies defined by their one epic twist, even if lately certain directors have gone way the hell overboard with it. When I type the words “Cabin in the Woods is almost a movie constructed entirely of twists”, I’d think “wow, that must be some gimmicky crap.” But it’s not. Not at all, not in any way. It flows beautifully from one to the next until you’re really not sure where you started, or how to feel about it. It actually changes outright genre three or four times in the process, and mixes a few as well. While you’re watching the horror you’re laughing at the comedy (and not comedy horror, either). As you marvel at the fascinating action, you’re pondering the deep dramatic turn.
As an added bonus, the acting is pretty alright, mostly. The characters they chose for the horror side are pretty deliberately stereotypical for the role, though the dialogue is very well written and they interact a lot more naturally and entertainingly than in previous horror flicks. The biggest name attached… actually I can’t mention, that’s a cameo. The biggest name with a lot of screentime is once again Chris Hemsworth, of Thor and Snow White and the Huntsman fame. And I have to say I was somewhat surprised at the get go when he displayed a bit more emotional range than I’ve seen before: he now seems to have a second emotion! I will describe these two states as “Thor” (brooding, angry, determined), and “Frat Guy” (happy, but laughing like a douchebag). In spite of that snarky commentary, he performed exactly as the role required and fit in perfectly, so take that bit as positive. Kristen Connolly plays the main character really. I haven’t seen her in action before… apparently she’s spent most of her time on a couple of soap operas… but I think she did quite well. And I can’t really discuss the acting beyond them without getting spoiley again.
Bottom line, hugely recommended. It’s really quite good, and although it won’t quite set a benchmark for horror movies in the future, it will definitely twist your perceptions of horror movies from here on out in what I suspect will be a good way.