Okay, Joss Whedon (Buffy, Angel, Firefly, Dollhouse) is the producer, and the film, The Cabin in the Woods, was scheduled to open on Friday the 13th. So far, so good. Moreover, the poster advertising the movie promises something different, a new twist, an unexpected spin on a familiar story: “You think you know the story.” But, of course, we don't know the story. We only think we do. Surprises—probably shocks, even—are in store. We've been warned.
The imagery suggests a mystery, too, or a difficult puzzle. The cabin floats (or falls) before an indistinct, rather sketchy forest, and, like a Rubik's Cube, it's turned this way and that. In fact, there are three cabins, none of which are actually in the forest (in the poster, at least), and they're stacked atop one another, the topmost right-side up, the middle one set on its side, the lower one upside down. We're disoriented; we're confused; we don't know which way is “up” (or “down” or “sideways,” for that matter). This movie's going to turn us every way but loose.
Those in the know know that Whedon is to movies what Dean Koontz is to novels: a genre bender who throws in a little of everything: comedy, tragedy, romance, adventure, mystery, horror, and the kitchen sink, and, from what reviewers have said about this film, Cabin in the Woods was meant to be no exception to the Whedon formula: it's satire; it's pastiche; it's filmed in Vancouver, of all places. According to the A. V. Club, the script, which took Whedon and co-writer Drew Goddard a whole three days to write, exhibits ”Whedon’s love of subverting clichés while embracing them and teasing out their deeper meaning,” if any. (The film was produced in only three months, too, by the way.) The authors themselves claim that their masterpiece is intended to “revitalize” the slasher film, a genre that so deserves such effort.
It cost about $30 million to make and grossed $65 million worldwide, so it's judged a “financial success.” Critical reviews were mixed, but generally favorable. It seems that the whole thing is a bit unnecessary, to say the least. Whedon has the talent to offer more—much more—than a revitalization of death warmed over.
Perhaps the best thing about the movie, though, is the poster that promoted it.