‘The Cabin in the Woods’ gives horror flicks a complete redo

By Heather Hamilton

A&E Editor

Horror isn’t scary anymore. If it makes you jump in surprise from time to time, the movie is exceeding expectations, so why not turn the genre on its head and send a message while you do it?

“The Cabin in the Woods” revolves around five college kids who go to visit — wait for it — a cabin in the woods for a weekend. Once they arrive they each begin acting out of character and quickly begin molding to classic horror-movie stereotypes (the loose girl, the macho-man, the virgin, the smart one and the village idiot). That night, once the character transformation is more or less complete, the group accidentally unleashes a family of sadistic zombies that will stop at nothing to kill them all.

It sounds all too familiar, doesn’t it? Don’t worry, it isn’t. “The Cabin in the Woods” has several twists and turns that may pay homage to the traditional horror movie, but it does so in the same breath that it makes fun of it.

The acting in the movie is fairly decent, but the viewers are so engrossed in the overall plot that it is hardly noticeable. One actor that does manage to stand out is Fran Kranz (“Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules”), who plays Marty, the resident stoner. In addition to offering the movie some shallow weed humor, Marty also adds witty one-liners and an actual show of intelligence to the mix, and Kranz does a phenomenal job flipping back and forth between the needs of his character and making both him and his interactions with the other characters completely convincing.

The only real problem with the movie is that it is so easy to ruin for someone else. It is nearly impossible to explain why it’s worth paying for a movie that looks borderline horrible without explaining all the secrets that make it awesome. Those many secrets are slowly revealed as the movie progresses, leaving viewers off-balance the entire time.

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“The Cabin in the Woods” also isn’t afraid to be funny. There are scenes that are there strictly for comic relief, and you’ll know it when you see them; they aren’t snuck in by any means. However, these serve a higher purpose than just entertainment: They make the eerie scenes just that much creepier. The mood switches back and forth between comedy, neutral and “scary” so suddenly that (similar to the plot twists and secrets) they keep viewers on their toes. By the end of the movie, you don’t know what to feel.

And that’s how you know it’s a good movie — if its goal is to set you off-kilter and it succeeds in doing so even after the credits, the movie has gone above and beyond the call of duty.