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Cabin in the Woods, The (DQ)


Stars: Kristen Connolly, Fran Kranz, Richard Jenkins, Chris Hemsworth, Jesse Williams, Anna Hutchison, Bradley Whitford, Amy Acker, Jodelle Ferland, Sigourney Weaver

Director: Drew Goddard

A grisly comedic variant on such sick horror films as the Saw series. Five 20somethings tripping (in the case of one, literally) to a friend's holiday cabin (never a good idea in movies) find themselves trapped in a sadistic reality game in which the protagonists have to triumph over evil or be killed.

Meanwhile, in the bowels of a big corporation, people in white coats (headed by Jenkins) man screens controlling the 'game', and make bets on the results; similar 'events', it seems, are taking place all over the world. While cameras train on every room in the cabin, which monsters are to be unleashed on our unsuspecting quintet depends on what happens when they venture into the cellar.

When the cellar trapdoor flies up, Curt (Hemsworth) gasps 'The wind must have blown it open'! Well, Dana (Connolly) reads some Latin from a book there, releasing a family of redneck zombies, who proceed to behead Jules (Hutchison) - though not before she's taken her top off - and terrorise everyone else.

As befits the actor who played Thor, Hemsworth still dashes around after having a 12-inch blade plunged into his back, while Kranz supplies the comedy relief, some of it quite amusing, as the permanently-stoned Marty. Somehow, he and Dana find their way to the subterranean HQ of the enterprise, and into a minor control room.

When Dana pulls the handle marked 'Purge', all hell breaks loose and the special effects guys have an absolute field day with half the monsters from filmland and folklore and a few more besides unleashed. 'The sun will come up in five minutes,' director Weaver tells our shattered heroes. 'If you live to see it, the world will end.' Ah, there's a catch then.

The film is quite gleefully (and inventively) ridiculous (with tongue constantly in cheek, and numerous nudging cinematic references) and bits of it, especially the last half-hour, are quite enjoyable, even if much is just irredeemably nasty. Gorehounds interested in something a touch more fanciful than the usual teens-in-peril slasher stuff will probably enjoy. An accompanying six-pack, though, is probably advisable, and the '15' certificate is certainly generous.

David Quinlan

USA 2011. UK Distributor: Lionsgate. Colour by deluxe.
94 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 3, Drugs 2, Swearing 2.

Review date: 06 Apr 2012