04/04/2012 12:15 pm ET Updated Jun 04, 2012

Review: The Cabin in the Woods

Back in 2009, my Buffy the Vampire Slayer crush Tom Lenk tweeted that he'd just finished shooting a role for the Joss Whedon-produced The Cabin in the Woods. Directed by Drew Goddard, the film gained a lot of early buzz for being a totally unconventional take on the horror genre, and I was pumped to see it. But then, silence. It turns out that financial woes at MGM caused the movie to be shelved for the next couple of years, but thankfully Lionsgate has swooped in to rescue it from the vault for an April 13th release. Perhaps it's just a way to capitalize on lead actor Chris Hemsworth's newfound Thor visibility, but I don't know and don't care, because the movie was worth the wait.

Plot: Five nubile college kids head to a cabin in the woods to party. Horrific mayhem ensues. But if you've paid any attention at all to the marketing of this film, there's a twist, one that Lionsgate and Whedon himself has begged early viewers not to reveal.

So I won't, and I'm actually sort of grateful for their request because writing it out makes it sound absurd. It's much better to just watch the plot unfold. Which brings me to my only gripe -- I worry that all the mystery surrounding the movie might lead to viewer let down. It's not that gigantic a twist, and it's pretty obvious what's up from the get-go. I hope audiences will just appreciate the movie for what it is, instead of constantly waiting for some sort of Crying Game-esque moment.

Since I'm playing their game though, I'll just say that Cabin takes all the self-referential winks found in the Scream franchise and ups the ante even higher. Plus the humor is as sharp as the various objects used for slaughter. The movie is a loving fan letter to horror fans, and features the greatest out-of-nowhere unbilled celebrity cameo since Alec Guinness popped up in Mute Witness. Don't get that reference? Doesn't matter, you'll still enjoy the ride.

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