Taking a break from her pre-med studies, Dana (Connolly) heads off to a mountain cabin with her flatmate Jules (Hutchison), their stoner pal Marty (Kranz) and Jules' muscle-jock boyfriend Curt (Hemsworth), who has invited his friend Holden (Williams) as a possible date for Dana. But they have no idea that two sardonic businessmen (Jenkins and Whitford) are managing an elaborate underground operation during which they are manipulating everything about the cabin. And it starts to become clear that, to save the world, all five young people must die in the correct order.
This is almost like watching two films: there's the Evil Dead-style gore-fest involving sexy young people unearthing absolute horror in an isolated cabin, and then there's the Men in Black-style sarcastic comedy about a secret parallel government operation dealing with something supernatural. Both elements reference their inspirations, gleefully subverting expectations while still following the respective formulae. And when the two strands merge, all hell breaks loose for a final act you never see coming.
The film's unpredictable structure is what makes it so entertaining, even if nothing particularly terrifying happens. All the way through, the filmmakers surprise us with moments of hysterical comedy and abject gruesomeness. They also keep the tone dry and jagged so we're always off balance, then slowly letting us in on the bigger picture. As Wes Craven's Scream forever changed the slasher genre by pointing out all of the cliches, this film undermines the creepy-cabin movie forever.
Along the way, the filmmakers manage to drop in a bit of political commentary between the outrageous humour and grisliness, which adds a whiff of subtext to the escalating mayhem. But it's the unexpected laughs that will make audiences love it, especially Kranz's cleverly surreal running commentary and the absurd banter between Jenkins and Whitford. The script is so smart that you'll want to see it again. And whatever you do, remember to stay away from the zombie arm.
Run time: 95 mins
In Theaters: Friday 13th April 2012
Box Office USA: $42.0M
Box Office Worldwide: $66.5M
Distributed by: Lionsgate Films
Production compaines: Lions Gate, Mutant Enemy Productions
Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 91%
Fresh: 221 Rotten: 21
IMDB: 7.1 / 10
Director: Drew Goddard
Producer: Joss Whedon, Drew Goddard
Screenwriter: Joss Whedon
Starring: Kristen Connolly as Dana Polk, Chris Hemsworth as Curt Vaughn, Anna Hutchison as Jules Louden, Fran Kranz as Marty Mikalski, Jesse Williams as Holden McCrea, Richard Jenkins as Richard Sitterson, Bradley Whitford as Steve Hadley, Brian J. White as Daniel Truman (as Brian White), Amy Acker as Wendy Lin, Tim De Zarn as Mordecai (as Tim DeZarn), Tom Lenk as Ronald The Intern, Dan Payne as Matthew Buckner, Jodelle Ferland as Patience Buckner, Dan Shea as Father Buckner, Maya Massar as Mother Buckner, Matt Drake as Judah Buckner, Nels Lennarson as Clean Man, Rukiya Bernard as Labcoat Girl, Peter Kelamis as Demo Guy, Adrian Holmes as Demo Guy, Chelah Horsdal as Demo Girl, Terry Chen as Operations Guy, Heather Doerksen as Accountant, Patrick Sabongui as Elevator Guard, Phillip Mitchell as Lead Guard, Naomi Dane as Japanese Floaty Girl, Ellie Harvie as Military Liaison, Patrick Gilmore as Werewolf Wrangler, Brad Dryborough as Chem Department Guy, Emili Kawashima as Japanese Frog Girl, Aya Furukawa as Japanese School Girl, Maria Go as Japanese School Girl, Serena Akane Chi as Japanese School Girl, Abbey Imai as Japanese School Girl, Marina Ishibashi as Japanese School Girl, Miku Katsuura as Japanese School Girl, Alicia Takase Lui as Japanese School Girl, Jodi Tabuchi as Japanese School Girl, Sara Taira as Japanese School Girl, Alyssandra Yamamoto as Japanese School Girl, Richard Cetrone as Werewolf/Merman, Phoebe Galvan as Sugarplum Fairy, Simon Pidgeon as Dismemberment Goblin, Matt Phillips as Dismemberment Goblin, Lori Stewart as Floating Witch, Greg Zach as Fornicus, Lord of Bondage and Pain (as Gregory Zach), Sigourney Weaver as The Director, Terry Notary as The Clown (uncredited)
Also starring: Joss Whedon
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