Creature Film, Horror, Satire, Sci-Fi Horror, Supernatural Horror, Teen Horror
Five teenagers head off for a weekend at a secluded cabin in the woods. They arrive to find they are quite isolated with no means of communicating with the outside world. When the cellar door flings itself open, they of course go down to investigate. They find an odd assortment of relics and curios, but when one of the women, Dana, reads from a book, she awakens a family of deadly zombie killers. However, there's far more going on than meets the eye.
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Honestly, I feel a little ashamed for passing over this one for so long. It's always been something, some reason why I couldn't commit ninety minutes to the tube, and getting around to actually doing it kept getting pushed further and further back. It certainly wasn't a lack of interest on my part: longtime viewers of the site already know how much I love those old teen slasher movies, so a modern movie that uses that formula in a new way? Color me intrigued. Tonight was the night, I finally got a chance to sit down with it and pound on the keyboard for a while, and...
Review by Chad
Added: January 09, 2014
First up, the storyline. I will put a little note here: I went into this movie with very little knowledge about it. I knew it had something to do with slasher flicks and I knew that it had some kind of twist on the concept, and that's about all that I knew. Watching it in that fashion paid off big time for me, and it probably will for you as well. However, I will be putting a general overview of the synopsis here, avoiding spoilers as much as possible. It's up to you if you want to know the finer points of the plot or go into it as blind as I did.
So, the storyline follows five young teens who head out to a remote cabin in the middle of the woods for a weekend of swimming in the lake, premarital sex, and yes, even a little weed smoking. We've got the usual suspects: Dana (Kristen Connolly) as the virginal good girl, Jules (Anna Hutchison) as the promiscuous one, her boyfriend Curt (Chris Hemsworth) as the athlete, Holden (Jesse Williams) as the smart one, and Marty (Fran Kranz) as the burned-out stoner. We've seen this type of group get together a thousand times in a thousand different movies, and it's no different this time. They get together, have a good time, and all is good in their world.
Well, until some powerful force blows open the cellar door and the group decides to investigate. They eventually find an old diary with some writing in Latin, and of course, they read it out loud... which reanimates the zombified remains of the previous cabin owners, who just so happen to have murder on their minds. Who will survive the night?
Oh, and the hook? Everything is being set up by a mysterious organization. The teens were brought together by them, their actions are influenced by them, and it was determined before they even arrived that some sort of monster / demon / villain would be picking them off one by one. The teens, by their own actions, unknowingly picked what type of monster(s) would be preying on them. Yes, the zombies are real, and yes, these kids really do die, but it's almost scripted by nature - they have free will, but the organization influences things so much that everything is basically a lock. There's a good reason for all this, but I'm definitely not going to spell it out for you. Suffice it to say, it's a great twist.
I'm just going to sum things up nicely: I fucking loved this movie. The concept was original and highly entertaining, the characters are perfect, the story keeps you guessing, the pacing is just right, and there's really not a single thing wrong here. I will say that it's aimed more at the hardcore horror fans, but even the casual ones in the audience will likely love a lot of what this has to offer... even if some of the stuff flies over their heads ("why does there HAVE to be boobs?").
I've really got to give it to the writers, as they did a hell of a job with this script. This is one of those plots that could have easily flopped; hell, if I had known the details before starting it, I would have had my doubts. However, everything clicks together nicely and makes for one hell of an interesting story... and again, the hardcore horror fans will love the numerous nods to other classics. I also liked how the movie can be viewed in numerous ways: you could simply watch it as yet another monster movie, or you can watch it as something a little deeper than that. Oh, and that ending? That can be interpreted in quite a few different ways and will give viewers some food for thought. Very well played.
As also mentioned, the pacing in this movie is fantastic. There is never a dull moment, and there's always something interesting going on: maybe a zombie is killing somebody with a bear trap on a chain, maybe we're getting more insight as to the motives of the organization, or maybe we're watching one hell of a bloody battle between man and beast take place (you'll know what I mean). The characters make it all work wonderfully, and even though they're filling those time-tested roles ("slut", "stoner", etc), they all still manage to bring something to the table.
Those of you who say that horror is dying, that there's nothing new in the genre: check this movie out. This is a great example of taking something that has been done to death and putting a brand new spin on it, resulting in a highly unique and entertaining film. It's rare that I watch a movie and immediately want to watch it again, but this was one of those times - it's just that good. An easy 10/10.
- added 01/24/2014, 10:34 PM
Yeah, this is a great movie and I am surprised it
took such a long time to get reviewed. Let me
just say that I am not much of a horror fan, but I
thoroughly enjoyed this flick. I thought it was
pretty hilarious and totally creative. I didn't
really know what to expect going in either. The
previews I saw painted a very different picture
than what I saw, but I trusted Joss Whedon enough
and knew I'd be able to find something I liked.
Everyone did a great job and really, the only
thing I have to say is that I was not a fan of the
CGI hand. If you've seen it, you know what I
mean. I appreciated all the other visuals for
what they were, but that part really bothered me
and still does every time I watch this movie.
Such a sour note to leave off on, but I guess if
that's the worst thing about it, that's pretty
damn good. I'd say 10/10 as well.
- added 06/16/2014, 01:46 AM
Watched this again and loved it just as much. I
will say though, they really missed an opportunity
to put all of those monitor scenes in the the
bonus features of the DVD.