The Cabin in the Woods, dir. Drew Goddard, wr. Drew Goddard, Joss Whedon, st. Kristen Connolly, Chris Hemsworth, Anna Hutchison, Fran Kranz, Jesse Williams, Richard Jenkins, Bradley Whitford
Before you can say "Grr! Agrhh!" you'll notice Joss Whedon's fingerprints all over The Cabin In The Woods, as close to a big-screen Buffy outing as we're ever going to get. Director Goddard lays out the delightfully conflicting puzzle pieces from the off - a quintet of young 'uns off on a country retreat a la staple horror movie plotting, and a seemingly incongruous and mysterious control room where Nathaniel Fisher and Josh Lyman lurk, Men In Black-style. To explain where and how the two narrative paths converge is to totally let the creature out of the cell, so to speak, suffice to say that Whedon and Goddard's "loving hate letter" to the genre largely succeeds in all areas; the post-modern commentary is cleverly knitted into the fabric of the story without becoming too intrusive, and likewise the spirited cast allow convention to run its course and shriek, cry and bleed with the best of 'em. Most satisfyingly of all however is the film's last act, traditionally the lame-ass and dull thonk! of a revelation following an intriguing build up - the death-thud of so many hi-concept dramas. Which brings us back to Buffy; throughout the series the Big Bads were alternately scary, chilling, epic and intimate, from other dimensions or eerily close to home, but always wonderfully written, their stories sown into the very foundations rather than tacked on as an afterthought. You may not have liked it, but you always bought it. And that pretty much says it all.