Having spent the best part of three years in post-production limbo thanks to what could charitably be described as troubling times at movie studio MGM, that The Cabin In The Woods saw the light of day at all still feels like a pleasant surprise. Even more revelatory, however, was that this would turn out to be not only one of the most critically lauded releases of the year, but something that actually carried out what it threatened to do – change the genre from the inside out, emphatically for the better.
This subversion defines the film, injecting its apparently generic premise – five friends go to stay in an isolated woodland cabin for a weekend of alcohol, drugs and debauchery – with a sense of self-awareness and intelligence that has rarely been attempted and seldom done well. To disclose anything more would be to risk spoilers, though it’s safe to say that the tagline ‘You think you know the story…’ for once isn’t hyperbole.
Pervading proceedings are the trademark witticisms and deft character touches of writer Joss Whedon. Never a moment away from a shock reveal or subtly knowing dialogue that generally stays on the right side of reverential, it’s his well-honed understanding with director and frequent writing partner Drew Goddard that ensures this rises above the pulpit of the films it sends up. Whedonites will appreciate the omnipresence of the same pop culture-tinged repartee that characterised Buffy and Angel, and the emotional brevity whispers of Firefly. If its release schedule had gone as intended, the choice of Whedon as director on Avengers Assemble wouldn’t have come as such a surprise.
Coupled with a decent selection of extras, this Blu-ray release provides a fittingly grandiose showcase for what is not only an unlikely success story, but possibly one of the most important releases of the last decade – for Whedon acolytes and newbies alike.