The Cabin in the Woods (2012)
When the slasher-in-the-woods subgenre originated back in the 70s (with films like Savage Weekend), and then was made mainstream by the Friday the 13th series, the concept of a bunch of good-looking 20-something actors playing jumpy and screaming teens attacked by an often unseen menace lurking on the outside of a cabin, was fresh enough to hold its own suspense and provide scares in and of itself. Such days are long gone, however, and the makers of The Cabin in the Woods have taken the consequences of it; the premise here is largely (actually exactly) the same as in the aforementioned films, but to spice things up, there's a parallel storyline of a group of operators in a Nasa-style control room monitoring and predicting the teens' every move – and in a very cheerful manner at that.
"Say what?" you might be tempted to utter when trying to make sense of it all, and that is of course exactly how the filmmakers want you to react. This is the surprise element, and those are crucial to every horror film. The problem with this one is that while it is both amusing and wildly creative, it also negates whatever effect storyline one could have had. Granted, the filmmakers' (Drew Goddard and Joss Whedon, who both worked on TV's Buffy and the spin-off Angel) thesis is that storyline one already is ineffective given the genre's history, but that doesn't really help us much.
With a structure more akin to Robert Rodriguez' From Dusk Till Dawn, I believe The Cabin in the Woods could have been effective as well as a great display of creativity, but as it is now, it's a horror film for film students; a horror film speaking only to your mind and not your gut, which is much like porn speaking to your sense of morals. With that said, the film is all the way both interesting and worth watching, and the unabashed, full-fledged finale certainly does the film justice and gives it an integrity which modern American films in the genre has been sorely lacking lately.