If you go down to the woods today, you're sure of a big surprise. Specifically, five horror film clichés in a van heading for a horror film cliché to partake in a series of horror film clichés, passing a horror film cliché on the way, only to wind up in the most unexpected non-horror film non-cliché you can think of. And chances are you won't have thought of this.
Self-reflexivity is hardly something with which horror fans are unfamiliar: it's sixteen years since Kevin Williamson and Wes Craven tore the genre a new throat-hole with their painfully post-modern Scream. But while that film seemed like the last word in knowingly arch filmmaking, The Cabin In The Woods turns horror so far inside out that its guts are orbiting its skin at a distance of several million miles.
It's a blood-soaked bag of severed funballs, but The Cabin In The Woods also has plenty to say about contemporary horror films - no mean feat considering it was made three years ago - and it'll be interesting to see how the genre adapts from here on in. Horror is about to feel like it's been caught copying someone else's homework, and with any luck writers Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard have ensured that in the future, all horror films will be judged as either pre- or post-Cabin. If they're the former and rubbish, they might just be forgiven, but anything that plays by the old rules from now on is going to meet a gory end.