THE CABIN IN THE WOODS (2009) Reviews and overview

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‘You think you know the story’

The Cabin in the Woods is a 2009 American horror feature film co-directed and co-written by Drew Goddard and Joss Whedon. The movie stars Kristen Connolly, Chris Hemsworth, Anna Hutchison, Fran Kranz, and Jesse Williams.


Having worked together previously on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel, Goddard and Whedon, wrote the screenplay in three days, describing it as an attempt to “revitalise” the slasher film genre…

Principal filming took place from March to May 2009 on an estimated budget of $30 million and was shot in Canada. More than sixty artists worked on the effects before filming began.

The film was originally slated for release on February 5, 2010, by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and United Artists, but was indefinitely shelved due to financial difficulties. In 2011, Lionsgate picked up the distribution rights.

The Cabin in the Woods finally premiered on March 9, 2012, at the South by Southwest film festival in Austin, Texas and was eventually released in the United States on April 13, 2012. The film went on to be a critical and commercial success, grossing more than $66 million in the box office.

On September 5, 2017, the film is released by Lionsgate as a 4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray + Digital HD combo. Special features include:

  • Audio commentary with writer/director Drew Goddard and writer/producer Joss Whedon
  • We Are Not Who We Are: Making The Cabin in the Woods featurette
  • An Army of Nightmares: Make-up & Animatronic Effects featurette
  • Primal Terror: Visual Effects featurette
  • The Secret Secret Stash featurette
  • WonderCon Q&A
  • It’s Not What You Think: The Cabin in the Woods BonusView mode (Blu-ray only)


Technicians Gary Sitterson and Steve Hadley prepare for an operation, one of several taking place around the world while joking with fellow technician Wendy Lin.


College students Dana Polk, Jules Louden and her boyfriend Curt Vaughan, Holden McCrea, and Marty Mikalski go to a remote cabin in the woods for a vacation. While there, the technicians control the local environment and give them mood-altering drugs to manipulate the group into following a scenario. The drugs gradually reduce the group’s intelligence and awareness and also increase their libido.

After entering the cellar, the group discovers a large assortment of items, including a diary by Patience Buckner, a girl abused by her sadistic family. Reciting an incantation from the diary, Dana inadvertently triggers the Buckner family scenario — a family of zombies who rise from their graves.


Curt and Jules go outside to have sex, encouraged by more mood-altering drugs. The Buckners attack the lovers and kill Jules, but Curt flees to the cabin. Meanwhile, Marty, who frequently smokes marijuana, becomes paranoid and believes they are being manipulated. Curt informs the group of Jules’ death.

Discovering a hidden camera, Marty thinks that he is on a reality television show, but is attacked and dragged away by one of the Buckners. Holden, Dana, and Curt attempt to flee in their RV, but the technicians barely block their path. Curt attempts to jump a ravine to flee only to crash into an invisible forcefield and fall to his death. Realizing that something is unusual about the environment, Dana becomes convinced that Marty’s worries about their manipulation were correct…




” … hardly the most serious, or smartest, horror film audiences will have seen in a while – there are plenty of eye-roll-inducing dialogue moments and the over-arching setup might be hard for some moviegoers to accept – but, for anyone that’s ready for an entertaining (albeit over-the-top) horror movie, avoid the film’s spoiler-filled trailer and head to your favorite cineplex knowing as little as possible.” Screen Rant

“It’s an affectionately satirical nightmare that asks why horror is so potent: what awful human need is being fed by seeing attractive young people in states of semi-undress who are suddenly, brutally slaughtered, almost as if they are being punished for being young and sexy? Why does the genre adhere so closely to the belief that young people in jeopardy have to be picked off singly…” The Guardian

“If it’s true that you always kill the thing you love, then horror honchos Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard have taken an ax to slasher cinema in The Cabin in the Woods and chopped it up for kindling. With love, mind you, and a potently playful sense of mischief. Cabin is a deliciously devious scare dance that keeps changing the steps until you lose your shit and fall helplessly into its demonic traps.” Rolling Stone

” … a fiendishly clever, mind-bending chiller that turns the horror genre inside out and holds its conventions up for close examination. But this satirical horror isn’t just a mischievous exercise in post-modern cleverness, it’s also a giddily funny, gulpingly scary, enormously entertaining thrill ride.” Peter Fuller, Kultguy’s Keep


“… vaguely akin to Wes Craven’s New Nightmare in that it also contemplates the function, and arguable importance of horror stories as a way of somehow addressing and helping viewers comprehend genuine evils throughout the world, while safely engaging our primitive instincts and blood-lust … Horror cinema has long been discussed in terms of its ability to help viewers deal with complex emotions and anxieties in a safe environment, where we know no harm can come to us.” Behind the Couch

“It has so many twists that it’s best enjoyed if you can go into it with a blank slate (or whiteboard, as the case may be … we’ve said too much already). But its real feat is being a rare movie that manages to be scary and funny without becoming schlocky or corny in the process. And that’s not mentioning the merman subplot.” Rolling Stone


“Making cookie cutter movies about kids going out to the woods to get murdered just won’t be good enough anymore. The Cabin in the Woods may have been a love letter to the horror genre, but it was also a much-needed kick in the arse.” Den of Geek


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