The Cabin in the Woods

This love letter to the slasher genre is a must-see for horror fans

There's no two ways about it – 2012 is set to be remembered by fans as the year that cult filmmaker Joss Whedon finally conquered Hollywood. Not only was he responsible for the year's best blockbuster, Avengers Assemble, he also co-wrote and produced this clever, witty and gory deconstruction of the horror genre.

In truth, it's hard to say anything about the film's plot without spoiling the fun. Let's just say, if you've ever wondered why so many fright flicks are about similar groups of kids meeting similar nasty ends in similar isolated locations, then this is the movie you've been waiting for...

Picture: Lionsgate regularly impresses with the 1080p encodes it delivers for its new release titles, and The Cabin in the Woods is no exception.

The lush greens and earthen browns of the landscape are amongst the first elements of the Blu-ray's AVC 2.40:1 encode to impress. But this is soon followed by the presence of immaculate fine detailing (just check out those close-ups of Jules making out with, er, the wolf's head in Chapter 5), plus a refined and extremely cinematic grain structure that gives the image a filmlike sheen.

Contrast levels also impress with their stability – even if blacks aren't always totally natural. But that's only to be expected, as the filmmakers have wisely opted to deliberately push back areas of shadow to make them utterly impenetrable and capable of hiding all manner of unseen horrors.
Picture rating: 4.5/5

Audio: For its first two acts, The Cabin in the Woods' DTS-HD MA 7.1 soundtrack delivers everything you'd expect from a traditional horror film – cleanly rendered dialogue, a richly resonant score full of booming percussion, and effective use of the surrounds for spooky atmospheric effect (such as the ghostly whispering heard in Chapters 6 and 8). But when the s**t really hits the fan in the final act, the 7.1 mix kicks things up a notch, positioning you at the heart of the on-screen mayhem thanks to highly effective use of dynamic positional effects.
Audio rating: 4/5

Extras: This Blu-ray serves up plenty of extra goodies for fans to get stuck into, headed up by an exclusive Bonus View picture-in-picture mode. Sadly, while it features some interesting interviews and behind-the-scenes footage, like so many PiP tracks the material is spread through the film rather sparsely.

Much better is the commentary by writer/director Drew Goddard and writer/producer Joss Whedon, which is packed with production info and amusing anecdotes (my personal favourite being one from Goddard that ends with the immortal line, '…and they made the tree less rapey.').

The fun continues with a wonderful 29-min Making of… documentary; a 5-min tour of the cabin set with Joss Whedon; an 8-min guide to the pot paraphernalia cooked up by the prop department; a 12-min piece about the make-up and animatronic effects; a supporting 12-min featurette about the use of visual effects; and a 28-min Q&A with Whedon and Goddard. All told, it's a very comprehensive look at the making of this cracking movie.
Extras rating: 4/5

We say: A superior hi-def platter for the smartest horror film to come out of Hollywood in years

Lionsgate, Region B BD, £25 Approx, On sale now