• Cabin In The Woods, The

    Released by: Lionsgate Entertainment
    Released on: September 5th, 2017.
    Director: Drew Goddard
    Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Kristen Connolly, Anna Hutchison, Fran Kranz, Jesse Williams
    Year: 2012
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    The Movie:

    The Cabin In The Woods opens in a small college town where Dana (Kristen Connolly) and Jules (Anna Hutchison) are making small talk. It seems that Dana recently ended an affair she was having with one of her professors, it didn’t go well. Luckily for her, Jules's boyfriend Curt (Chris Hemsworth) is buddy-buddy with Holden (Jesse Williams), just the kind of guy Dana needs. They’re all heading out to a weekend away at Curt’s cousin’s lakeside cabin out in the woods. They pack their stuff and prepare to leave but before that happens, their pothead friend Marty (Fran Kranz) shows up. He’s tagging along for the ride.

    Elsewhere, two men in a tech-heavy industrial complex named Sitterson (Richard Jenkins) and Hadley (Bradley Whitford) are watching all of this on their monitors. We also learn that the company these men work for has been covertly plying their subjects with drugs.

    As the story plays out, the group encounters all manner of horror movie clichés – a cranky old gas station attendant named Mordecai (Tim DeZarn) who gives them a warning they choose to ignore, a creepy painting, weird behavior from the local animals, lots of partying and drinking on the part of the teens, and even a creepy basement with an old book in it. All of this happens while various characters at the facility keep watching… and then things get genuinely strange.

    An interesting and decidedly clever take on horror movie clichés, The Cabin In The Woods is a lot of fun. The script from director Drew Goddard and co-wroter Joss Whedon is able to pay homage to plenty of horror classics (Evil Dead is a big one) while still managing to very definitely carve out its own unique path. This never feels like a rip off or a retread, no matter how many familiar elements are put up there on the screen. Yes, it’s meta and very self-aware but it works. It’s also very gory, easily earning its R-rating with plenty of over the top carnage (at least by the standards of a fairly mainstream studio picture). The film is also very funny. Whedon and Goddard have a real knack for mixing humor and horror and they do it well with this picture.

    The cast are also quite good. Each of the five main characters is a fairly standard horror movie ‘teen’ – these are the beautiful people, the kind you’d expect to see in a typical slasher movie based around college kids. They play their parts well, but by doing just that they’re forced to subscribe to a certain amount of stereotyping. Regardless, in the context of the story being told it works quite well. Technical merits are also impressive. We get a mix of practical and digital effects and while some of the CGI isn’t always one hundred percent effective, just as much of it is. Add to that a solid score that helps to ramp up the tension and some nice camerawork and The Cabin In The Woods, despite some logic gaps inherent in its premise, is a movie worth checking out.


    The Cabin In The Woods debuts on 4k UHD from Lionsgate in HEVC / H.265 encoded 2160p framed at 2.40.1 widescreen on a 66GB disc. The film was shot on 35mm but finished digitally at 2k but we do get a noticeable increase in detail right from the start. Close up shots are where it’s easiest to spot this but you’ll also see more in the background on the UHD disc than on the accompanying Blu-ray disc. Colors also look considerably stronger here thanks to HDR, not just bolder hues like red and blue but in softer tones as well. Black levels are nice and deep if a step or two away from perfection, there are no issues here with any crush or obvious mpeg compression artifacts. Some eagle-eyed viewers may spot some slight banding on occasion but only if they’re looking for it. The picture is very clean, showing a bit of natural film grain but nothing in the way of actual print damage worth noting. Edge enhancement and noise reduction are never an issue. All in all, this transfer shapes up quite nicely.

    The English language Dolby Atmos, track on this disc is stellar. Optional subtitles are available in English, English SDH and Spanish language. The Atmos track on this disc is fantastic. It’s incredibly immersive and noticeably more powerful than what’s included on the Blu-ray disc (that’d be a DTS-HD 7.1 mix for those keeping score). Consistently engaging, this very active mix comes at you from all sides when the movie calls for it, presenting superb surround activity throughout the movie. Even the quieter scenes have a fair bit going on in the background, ambient noise and what not. The score also sounds great, it’s rich and deep without overpowering the dialogue which remains crystal clear throughout. No issues here, top marks all around.

    Extras, which are all carried over from the older Blu-ray release start off with an audio commentary featuring co-writer/director Drew Goddard and co-writer/producer Joss Whedon. This is an interesting track delivered with a good sense of humor. They basically walk us through the writing process for the movie, talking about where the various ideas came from and how they tried to toy with genre fan expectations. There’s also talk about the cast and crew’s contributions to the movie, the effects work and quite a bit more.

    From there we get a few featurettes starting with the half hour We Are Not Who We Are: Making The Cabin In The Woods. Whedon is all over this one, talking about the origin of the movie and how it ties into other projects he’s been involved with over the years. Goddard also pops up here too. This covers a lot of the same ground as the commentary but it’s still fun and the fact that there’s as much behind the scenes footage as there is in this makes it worth watching. The thirteen minute long The Secret Secret Stash is made up of two shorter parts - Marty's Stash and My Name Is Joss And I'll Be Your Guide – each of which show us what went into the film’s rather complicated production design work and prop construction. In the twelve minute An Army Of Nightmares: Makeup And Animatronic Effects we, not surprisingly, explore what went into the effects that play a big part in making the movie what it is. Tech junkies will appreciate seeing this piece, as well as the twelve minute Primal Terror: Visual Effects sequence which shows off some of the green screen and CGI work that was used in the movie. Last but not least as far as the featurettes go, we get a half hour long Wonder-Con Q&A with Whedon and Goddard in which the two men field questions from the audience and speak about the movie’s origins.

    Outside of that we get a theatrical trailer, menus and chapter selection. The extras on the UHD mirror those found on the included Blu-ray release (which appears to be identical to the previous single disc Blu-ray release that Lionsgate put out in 2012) save for the fact that the It’s Not What You Think picture in picture track included on that Blu-ray disc has been omitted from the UHD. There don’t appear to be any new extras included here.

    Also packaged inside the black case with the two discs is an insert card containing a download code for a digital HD version of the movie. Lionsgate has also packaged this release with an embossed slipcover.

    The Final Word:

    The Cabin In The Woods gets a really solid 4k release from Lionsgate. There are no new extras here but the transfer is a nice step up and the audio is reference quality. The movie itself is a lot of fun, a fairly ‘meta’ exploration of horror clichés but well-made and always entertaining.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!

    Comments 2 Comments
    1. Jason C's Avatar
      Jason C -
      Dammit, I do not want to be tempted to upgrade a lot of my BDs to UHD but I might have to bite on this.
    1. Ian Jane's Avatar
      Ian Jane -
      The Atmos mix on this disc is killer - and hey, at least it's not too expensive!