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Hilarious and frightened: shaken, not stirred.

Great movie, one of the best in this "genre" for quite a while.

Finally got around to The Cabin in the Woods. 8/10, great fun. A Joss Whedon-(co)written (also co-written and directed by Drew Goddard, who wrote Cloverfield) take on an old horror staple in which 5 stereotypical teenagers (an academic, a jock, a stoner, a slut and a "nice" girl) venture out into the woods for a dirty weekend. It's no spoiler to say that these unfortunate young naïfs appear to have been cherry-picked and are being heavily monitored all the way into the woods by some very (very) high-tech manner of... what? Government agency? It's with these fellows that we visit first, before we ever meet our protagonists; two middle-aged, white collar I.T. types, a little brow-beaten by what appears to be a fairly monotonous job (although it really ****ing isn't) but full of typical office cameraderie and essentially confident in their own competence and that of the numerous other departments that make up this rather large-scale operation. Whoever is watching our heroes/heroines, they're big-time. So, what's happening? To say more would be to start giving things away, but those kids are very deliberate archetypes, placed in a very deliberately typical horror scenario. Because it's an American film set in America, it's called The Cabin in the Woods as is befitting the conventions of God-knows-how-many American horror flicks. Were it a J-Horror set in Tokyo, it would be called The Freaky Long-Haired Schoolgirl Ghost, an assertion ably illustrated in the film itself to great and rather humourous effect.

Decent performances all-round, even the deliberately irritating characters are kind-of likeable. A pre-Thor Chris Hemsworth is particularly good as is Richard Jenkins (Nathaniel "The Dead Patriarch" Fisher from Six Feet Under). It threw me a bit, this film, because in purposely not looking too deeply at what it was about prior to seeing it, I mistakenly thought I was about to watch a seriously scary and effective horror, and this isn't the case at all. It's a slick product with what looks like a decent budget as you'd expect from a Joss Whedon project (in case you've been under a rock somewhere, he of Buffy/Angel and latterly of The Avengers fame) and it's loaded with nods to other horror literary and cinematic classics (The Evil Dead, Hellraiser, The Strangers and HP Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos are all fairly explicitly referenced), but it's not especially gory, it's intentionally funny more often than it's intentionally scary and it's a real thrill-ride, a slice of fun. It's not quite there, but it's a damn site closer to "Horror-Comedy" than it is to balls-out "Horror". It's not perfect by a long way - it instills bags of concerned curiosity in the viewer, but provokes almost zero real tension whatsoever. And late-on a special effects extravaganza treads clumsily into Night at the Museum-for-grown-ups territory. But it remains a great way to spend a couple of hours.

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