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By Shane M. Dallmann

Sorry–you won’t get one of my in-depth reviews this time around, and there’s a good reason for that.

As you may know, I tend to avoid news regarding upcoming genre releases–I like to be surprised, essentially. When I first saw the poster for THE CABIN IN THE WOODS (brought to you, of course, by Joss Whedon and CLOVERFIELD’s Drew Goddard), I had no idea that it had been sitting on a shelf for three years or that it had narrowly escaped a gratuitous 3-D conversion job, but I was significantly intrigued by the suggestion that I only THOUGHT I knew the story.

That very same day, I saw the trailer for the film and was quite annoyed because I felt it had undone my anticipation by spelling it all out anyway.

So… this much we all probably know: your typical set of young vacationers (oversexed couple, the two friends they’re trying to force to hook up, stoner fifth wheel) run the gamut of cliches (starting with the grizzled gas station attendant). And it’s NOT a spoiler that the entire set-up is just that… an artificial simulacrum operated by a bunch of “suits” in an elaborate techno-complex. That’s established in the very first scene of the film, so I haven’t blown it even if you DID manage to miss the trailer and TV spots. The question, of course, is just WHY they’re doing this…

Okay. I still maintain that the trailer gave too much away. But thankfully, it did NOT ruin the crucial parts or the vast array of surprises waiting for you in this thoroughly entertaining, rocket-paced thriller. Our deliberately cliched protagonists go through their pre-ordained paces as if they were the first ones to do so (as it should be), while the “office” environment provides even more enthusiastically-played and engaging characters, banter and slowly-building mystery.

And that’s where I stop, save for the reassurance that the movie is going to give you everything you could possibly want–and for my indulgence in an appropriate summation. Perhaps you remember that I recently took offense at a review for WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN that called it “a horror film for people who’ve outgrown horror films.” While I still think that’s a crock, the phrasing does open the window for me here all the same.

THE CABIN IN THE WOODS is a horror film for people who THINK they’ve outgrown horror films… and for the rest of us who know we HAVEN’T.