The 36th Annual Atlanta Film Festival closed with undoubtedly the highest-profile film of the week, the long-delayed The Cabin in the Woods. The film, from Joss Whedon and Cloverfield writer Drew Goddard, subverts the horror genre in a way not seen since Scream came out in the mid-90s.
The Cabin in the Woods is one of those films that works best by not knowing what’s coming. The title, of course, gives a bit of the story away…but only a bit. Calling The Cabin in the Woods a horror film is rather limiting, though. There are significant amounts of comedy and thriller elements that work their way into the film’s structure as well.
The cast is also uniformly strong. Lead Kristen Connolly, who was present at the Atlanta premiere of the film, is particularly notable in her first leading role. Also filling out the cast of young adults is a pre-Thor Chris Hemsworth, who provides much of the same charm he brought to his version of the superhero last year. Hollywood veterans Richard Jenkins and Bradley Whitford, who bring their notable skills into crucial roles, balance out the film’s cast.
Whedon has described The Cabin in the Woods as “a loving hate letter” to the horror genre, and I can’t think of a better description. The film both glorifies and skewers the horror genre, particularly holding up a middle finger to the relatively recent spate of torture porn horror films.
Judging by the audience reaction Saturday night, it seems that Whedon and Goddard’s approach to the genre works. As someone who’s not normally a fan of the genre, I can say with ease that The Cabin in the Woods is not only one of the best horror films I’ve seen, but one of the best films regardless of genre that I’ve seen this year. Unless you’re completely averse to films that offer fright, I highly recommend watching this film. It was the best way to close out this year’s Atlanta Film Festival.