Directed by Drew Goddard and co-written between Goddard and Joss Whedon the omens were good for CitW, a quick look at the cast list added to that. I have to say I was sold on the movie only minutes in with Messrs Hadley (Bradley Whitford, The West Wing, 1999-2006) and Sitterson (Richard Jenkins, The Visitor, 2007) indulging in a deep and meaningful discussion on baby-proofing the home and making plans for during the week, their weekend obviously busy so no woods for them. We get enough of an insight at this early stage to see there is an experiment underway, but just what type, we have yet to determine. With the happy-go-lucky wise cracking duo of Hadley and Sitterson, you just know they are nice people…or are they?
The scene then switches to college dorm land where we see our five heroes/victims preparing for their weekend in the woods. We see the group lead by the “Jock” of the group (Chris Hemsworth, Thor, 2011), who combine to make up the five stereo-type students which usually end up in deserted cabins waiting to be killed. They are off to a newly bought cabin owned by the cousin of one of our heroes. I won’t go into the characterisation here, it has been described as shallow, personally I would consider it adequate and at the level needed for the movie. After the initial introductions to us, the group fill up the camper van and start off to the cabin, it is at this stage that the first sinister clue is given, there is something afoot. Perhaps there is a link between the experiment and the weekend away…the rest of the story needs you to watch the movie, no spoiler here.
What Goddard (Cloverfield 2008 writer) and Whedon (Buffy the Vampire Slayer 1996-2003) bring is over a decade of working together, and it shows. It is hard to be truly original in horror movies. There is the small group trapped in the woods always the “jock”, the “blond” and various supports to counterpoint. There are also the assorted things that can go wrong when alone in a deserted cabin in the middle of nowhere. Where our writers succeed is that this is always just one part of the overall equation, never over powering it. What we have here is Cabin Fever (Eli Roth 2002), Dead Snow, (Tommy Wirkola, 2005) and Das Experiment (Oliver Hirschbiegal 2001) and a lot of others all pushed into one production, but not in a manner which is simply a cheap plagiarism, more an homage to this work and indeed the horror genre.
The characterisation is at the right level here, it carries the movie, not over-powers it. The horror aspect is not overly gruesome, but everything that ever caused us to jump is there. The script is smart with the verbal and visual gags all working well. I laughed where I was supposed to and laughed out loud. This is a first class satire, Horror fans will enjoy it.
Rating = 9/10, nothing is perfect. It kept me entertained and I was happy to recommend it to friends.