The Cabin in the Woods (2012, Drew Goddard)

This is one of my favorite things – I went back and watched it again, to be positive. Goddard (wrote Cloverfield, worked on Lost and Buffy) and producer Whedon (who is having a big month) manage to make it seem easy, blending horror and comedy, movie and meta-movie more excitingly than Scream did, forming a sort of horror-movie construction-kit. It gradually reveals its scheme while telling us why this is all necessary, and when the stock characters realize that they’re stock characters and break out of the model, they knowingly and misanthropically unleash Lovecraftian armageddon.

The Virgin: Kristen Connolly

The Scholar: Jesse Williams of Grey’s Anatomy
The Athlete: Chris “Thor” Hemsworth
The Slut: yellow power ranger Anna Hutchison
The Fool: Fran Kranz of Whedon’s Dollhouse

Not pictured: Richard Jenkins and West Wing star Bradley Whitford push the buttons manipulating our stock characters to their doom. Brian White (IMDB specifies that he’s their 34th Brian White) is the new guy, Amy Acker (also Dollhouse) runs the chem department, and an uncredited Sigourney Weaver runs the whole show.

Writer/director Goddard:

The truth is, this movie does comment on a horror movie, but that wasn’t our goal. We wanted to comment more on who we are and what part horror plays in us as a people. If you keep that in your sights the whole time, it’s easier to find the balance, because then your movie is just becoming about commenting on the human condition and not worrying too much about, “What is this saying about the genre or the films?” It’s much more just, “What are we saying in general?” That’s the sort of thing you have to hold firm to.