SXSW: Cabin In The Woods Blows The Doors Off The Paramount Theatre

It was the perfect Opening Night film, screened under less-than-perfect weather conditions.

Yet here’s how I know I adore Drew Goddard’s creature feature The Cabin In the Woods, which kicked off the 2012 South By Southwest Film Festival Friday evening with a bang, a growl, a howl, and deafening cheers. After spending more than an hour in a driving rain and bone-chilling cold outside Austin’s famed Paramount Theatre, I was tired, soaked, cranky and ready to throw daggers at any film screened. But Cabin is so purely entertaining, so fantastically imaginative, and so intelligent about its chosen genre that I’d brave similar monsoons to see it again and again.

What can I tell you about it? Not much, as Katey Rich reiterated in her outstanding Cabin review. Goddard and his co-writer/producer Joss Whedon actually took to the stage before and after the screening to implore that we not “spoil” the experience for Cabin virgins by revealing plot details. And it can’t be said enough … the less you know about Whedon and Goddard’s genre masterpiece, the more you’ll enjoy every twist and reveal.

Whedon did give us permission to call the film “a timeless classic,” which I’m more than happy to do.

The Paramount crowd devoured the film. Laughter and cheers drowned out a couple of the film’s best lines. (Fran Kranz’s stoner character Marty, the “voice of reason” for most of Cabin’s insanity, was a clear-cut favorite of the SXSW audience.) By the time the second act kicked into gear, the Paramount screening was starting to feel more like a party than a screening, with audiences anticipating the next twist. By the bombastic third act -- which truly must be seen to be believed -- Cabin had turned the Paramount into a revival tent, and we were all worshipping at the altar of the horror genre and all of its celebratory conventions.

The rain, however, is putting a damper on the opening days of SXSW. The fest relies on outdoor lines outside of its venues, gambling that the Texas weather will cooperate. So far, it hasn’t. The lines outside of the Paramount or the various Drafthouse locations are great places to meet colleagues, catch up on titles people have already seen, and plan your schedule. As of now, we’ve spent our time in line huddled under umbrellas and trying our best to stay dry. It isn’t working.

If the various movies we’re waiting on happen to be as good as Cabin, you won’t hear me complaining. Today, I’m rolling the dice on a buzzed-about documentary titled The Imposter, the Sundance hit Safety Not Guaranteed, and William Friedkin’s Killer Joe. And I’m praying the heavens close up, and the temperatures rise just a little.

Sean O'Connell
Managing Editor

Sean O’Connell is a journalist and CinemaBlend’s Managing Editor. He's frequently found on Twitter at @Sean_OConnell. ReelBlend cohost. A movie junkie who's Infatuated with comic-book films. Helped get the Snyder Cut released, then wrote a book about it.