The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: Lionsgate - 2011
MPAA Rating: R
Feature running time: 95 minutes
Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 2.40:1
Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 7.1 Master Audio
Subtitles: English SDH, English, Spanish
Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Kristen Connolly, Anna Hutchison, Fran Krantz, Jesse Williams, Richard Jenkins, Bradley Whitford
Directed by: Drew Goddard
Music by: David Julyan
Written by: Joss Whedon & Drew Goddard
Region Code: A,B,C
Blu-ray Disc release Date:
A rambunctious group of five college friends steal away for a weekend of debauchery in an isolated country cabin, only to be attacked by horrific supernatural creatures in a night of endless terror and bloodshed. Sound familiar? Just wait. As the teens begin to exhibit standard horror movie behavior, a group of technicians in a control room are scrutinizing, and sometimes even controlling, every move the terrified kids make. With their efforts continually thwarted by the all-powerful eye in the sky, do they have any chance of escape?
The Cabin In The Woods begins as a conventional teen/scream horror movie then transforms into a genre-bending experience that cleverly mixes frights with pop-culture wit as the terrorized teens are revealed to be watched by a group of technicians that follow their every move and are controlling the disturbing events from behind the scenes. Seeing that Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard co-wrote the script I figured this film would break from genre convention but I wasn’t sure what the outcome would be.
The introduction is about what you would expect as we see a group of teens heading for a weekend in a secluded cabin owned by one of their relatives. Things progress quickly after the group discovers a variety of odd and distinctly different items in the basement. When they read from an old diary that belonged to a young girl that once lived in the cabin events escalate to creepy and murderously bloody proportions. Watching their every move are what appear to be two “handlers” whose job it is to get them to the cabin and to get them to interact with the items/relics in the basement. The “handlers” work at a fully staffed facility and it is clear that what they are doing isn’t designed for entertainment (although it is evident they enjoy their jobs). The question is what are they doing…and why?
Not quite what I was expecting The cabin in the woods turned out to be more and ultimately lots of fun. Conceptually clever the script is a multi-genre blend built upon horror elements that draws from many of its clichés and turns them inside out. I found it to be witty, creepy, and over the top as its reanimated context serves as a titillating homage that should strike a chord with horror fans. There is plenty of gore and a great cache of nightmarish creatures that compliment the narrative’s conventional and unconventional aspects. It’s clear early on that the watchers have lured the kids to the cabin but its how they do their jobs, and to what end that proves so entertaining. In most teen scream flicks the characters are pretty unsympathetic in that you can’t help but feel that they ignored all the signs of trouble and aimlessly wandered into their situation. Here they are clearly victims of a ruse and are just trying to get the hell out of Dodge. On the flip side are seemingly ordinary people working a nine to five (so to speak) that are about as different a job as you can get.
I found the characters on both sides to be appropriately drawn within the thematic spirit of the film. The action is fun, the levity is timely and the frights are engaging while keeping the camp factor to a minimum. The cabin in the woods isn’t hair raising or cinematically stirring but it is exactly what it is intended to be, a great way to spend an hour and a half when you’re in the mood for something a little different.
The rating is for strong bloody horror violence and gore, language, drug use and some sexuality/nudity.
AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65
**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Low frequency extension:
- Surround Sound presentation:
- Dialogue Reproduction:
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Black level/Shadow detail:
- Color reproduction:
The cabin in the woods comes to Blu-ray Disc from Lionsgate featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 29 Mbps and lossless DTS-HD 7.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 5 Mbps.
This isn’t a particularly bright film but based on the subject matter it manages to strike a usable balance between the use of dark and light elements. Filtering is used to render its varying visual aesthetics as dictated by the filmmakers. Certain scenes are bathed in monochromatic sepia or blue while others appear to use natural lighting and deeper color emphasis. This seems to mate well thematically and I found the visual contrast interesting. In most regards both light and dark sequences have above average depth with appreciable shadow delineation. White levels are tamped down and blacks are gradational but slightly elevated. Dynamic range is only mildly affected as brighter elements tend to have punchy highlights with visible detail. Resolution occasionally fluctuates but in most instances detail is clearly resolvable with discerning visual perspective that results in pleasing, multi-dimensional high definition video quality.
A movie like this lives or dies (no pun intended) by its soundtrack and this DTS-HD 7.1 channel is lots of fun. This is a captivating surround sound mix that features an immersive array of well placed sound effects that pray upon your aural senses. Near field sounds are accurately placed within the sound field which gives them multi-dimensional perspective that places you right in the middle of the action. The entire room is illuminated with an array of sounds that are both directional and ambient in nature. I appreciated the attention to detail that went into creating the surround mix as it effectively replicates the environments, off camera cues and onscreen pans featured in the film. Bass is rich, authoritative, and room energizing as it accentuates the audio’s dynamic range with palpable impact. Dialogue intelligibility is never a problem even during the film’s active moments. This is a great surround sound experience that certainly made this film more enjoyable.
- It’s not what you think: The cabin in the woods Bonusview Mode – Interactive PiP feature where cast/crew interject their thoughts/experiences making the film.
- Audio commentary with writer/director Drew Goddard & writer/producer Joss Whedon
- (HD) We are not who we are: The making of The cabin in the woods – 28 minute featurette
- (HD) The secret secret stash:
- Marty’s stash – 8 minutes
- My name is Joss and I’ll be your guide – 5 minutes
- Marty’s stash – 8 minutes
- (HD) An army of nightmares: makeup & animatronic effects – 12 minute featurette
- (HD) Primal terror: Visual effects – 12 minute featurette
- (HD) Wonder-Con Q&A – 27 minutes
- (HD) Theatrical trailer
- Digital Copy
- Ultraviolet Digital Copy
The Cabin In The Woods begins as a conventional teen/scream horror movie then transforms into a genre-bending experience that cleverly mixes frights with pop-culture. I found it to be witty, entertainingly creepy, and over the top as its reanimated context serves as a titillating homage that should strike a chord with horror fans. It makes its way to Blu-ray from Lionsgate featuring solid high definition video, involving 7.1 channel lossless sound quality and a gratifying assortment of bonus supplements. I had a ball with this one and highly recommend it for genre fans that might appreciate something a little different.
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews
Reference Review System:
JVC DLA-RS55 3D Ready 1080p High Definition Front Projector
Stewart Filmscreen - Studiotek 130 G3 100” 16x9 Screen
Onkyo PR-SC5508 THX Ultra 2 Audio/Video Processor
Sherbourn Technologies - 7/200 Seven Channel Amplifier
Oppo BDP-93 Universal Disc/3D capable Blu-ray Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Panasonic DMP-BDT310 3D capable Blu-ray Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Toshiba HD-XA2 HD DVD Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Sony Playstation 3 Blu-ray disc Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
System Controller: Apple iPad/iRule Pro HD Universal Remote Control
Canton "Ergo" Series speakers
Axiom Audio QS8 Quadpolar speakers
SV Sound PB-13 Ultra (Rosenut finish)
APC AV S15BLK Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Wireworld, Better Cables (Silver Serpent) - Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
Cool Components - CP-CP102 cooling package