Joss Whedon is like nerd catnip to me. I have a dvd shelf groaning with the “Buffy” DVDs, the complete seasons of “Angel”, “Firefly”, “Dollhouse” and more copies of “Serenity” than anybody really needs to own.
Yes, friends, that’s what hard-bitten fans of consumer electronics battles will recognize as an HD-DVD copy of “Serenity” – I didn’t buy an HD-DVD player solely to play this movie, but it was certainly a motivating factor in my picking up an Xbox 360 HD-DVD drive back in the day (don’t worry, I now own the movie on Blu-Ray, too, so I can still get my HD Whedon fix).
What I’m trying to say is that when it comes to Whedon, I’m prepared to follow him just about anywhere his muse takes him. With that in mind, I was interested to see the trailer that Lionsgate posted the other day for the distaff horror movie, “The Cabin in the Woods” which Whedon wrote and produced in 2009. This horror hybrid suffered a long delay due to green-lighting studio MGM’s financial troubles during the last few years and finally gets a release in the states on April 13th, 2012.
The trailer starts by giving us a hint that this a horror movie with the now requisite amount of self-awareness and post-modern wit about genre conventions and tropes – this is not the empty-headed slasher crew of the late-70’s and early-80’s cycle of cinematic shockers. So, they shouldn’t end up doing anything so stupid as to…
…go to this bloke’s out-of-the-way petrol station-cum-mass-murder waypoint. Because that would be really ill-advised. Are we sure that these kids are that bright?
Oh, it’s OK – they’ve got Thor and that lad from “Dollhouse” with them. It’s all fine.
It’s only half-way through the trailer that the shizz really begins to hit the fan:
Uh-oh. Does this mean that it’s going to be post-modern, quasi-feminist and nobody’s going to be wearing hockey masks?
We’ve got sci-fi elements going on here – there’s more than a hint (with the trailer’s quick cuts of technicians pushing buttons and our heroes in the cabin being remotely viewed in some high-tech facility) that this horror film is as much about a critique of ‘reality’ TV and the way that entertainment has even invaded news gathering as it is about nubile college co-eds being sliced and diced in remote holiday locales.
Of course, I imagine that fans of slice-and-dice won’t be disappointed. Knowing Whedon’s literary predilection for sparing the traditional slasher fodder and ensuring that you never know who’s going to meet the rough end of his reaper’s pencil, I heartily expect much of the main cast not to make it to the inevitable, video premiere spin-offs.
Overall, I’m quite keen to see what Whedon and his collaborator/“Cloverfield” writer Drew Goddard do with the horror tropes available to them here. I’d rather that this film was its own beast and not just the ‘let’s dice up young folk with a knowing wink’ fare which Eli Roth’s “Hostel” offered.
Knowing Whedon and Goddard’s work as I do, I’m sure that this film has a lot more on its mind than most studio horror efforts have the ambition (or latitude) to aim for.