The Cabin in the Woods - 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray
- Street Date:
- September 5th, 2017
- Reviewed by:
- M. Enois Duarte
- Review Date: 1
- August 29th, 2017
- Movie Release Year:
- 95 Minutes
- MPAA Rating:
- Release Country
- United States
Portions of this review also appear in our coverage of the standard Blu-ray release written by Luke Hickman. Specifically, Mr. Hickman penned the Movie Itself while M. Enois Duarte wrote new Vital Disc Stats, Video, Audio, Supplements and Final Thoughts sections.
For a full in-depth review of the Blu-ray SDR HERE.
The Movie Itself: Our Reviewer's Take
Coming five months after its theatrical release date, I'd typically pull out the stops and give you a huge spoiler-filled review describing what makes The Cabin in the Woods the best horror movie in over a decade – but I'm not going to do that. This is one of those films that you'll wish you could watch for the first time again, so who am I to spoil this little slice of genius?
Keeping it spoiler-free makes The Cabin in the Woods the hardest movie to review. It's impossible to talk plot without ruining something that is wildly fun to learn in the meticulously thought-out manner in which it's revealed in the film by its geek writers – Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard of Buffy fame. Because of that, I'm going to emphasize how much you should just take the leap of faith and see it, all while glazing over the central storyline in a general manner.
If you've seen the trailer for Cabin in the Woods, you've seen too much. It's fine that you know about the group of college-age kids headed to an Evil Dead-ish cabin in the woods for the weekend. It's fine that you know that something in the woods is trying to kill them. What should not have been shown is everything else. If you haven't seen the trailer, then these next three lines might need a SPOILER ALERT. The strange and unexplained science fictiony images that are shown – elevators, SWAT-esque teams, video monitors, invisible grids – should have been saved for the first-time viewing experience. The way that it's shown in the trailer, this aspect of the film appears to be something that's revealed in the final chapter of the film, but it's actually woven throughout the film in a slow-rolling manner. In fact, the opening sequence of the movie leaves you wondering if you're watching the right movie.END SPOILER.
What The Cabin in the Woods pulls off will forever change the way you look at horror movies – not only those to come, but those that you already know. It sets up a mold that you can apply to 90 percent of the horror movies out there, one that explains exactly why everything stupid happens - why the virgin is the central character, why the group always splits up, why people always trip while being chased, why there's so much nudity in them, and so on. It takes the genre, playfully flips it on its head, and shows you horror like you've never seen it before.
The trailers didn't hint to it at all, but The Cabin in the Woods is hilarious, definitely falling into the horror comedy sub-genre. I laughed more during The Cabin in the Woods than I did collectively through Adam Sandler's last ten movies. But don't mistake this as pure comedy, because it's also full of terror and gore. It's surprising to see what Whedon and Goddard were able to get away with – not as in R-rated content, but in story content. Just when it feels like the movie is coming to an end, a wild and unrestrained final act begins that is completely out of control. I don't know which studio exec thought, "Hey, this might be a good idea," and gave the film a green light, but I'm sure glad they had the courage to try something this amazing!
Made on an estimated budget of $30 million, the worldwide $65.9 million box office draw of The Cabin in the Woods wasn't too great - but that doesn't matter. For those who love horror, it's an instant cult classic. And for those who don't much care for the genre, it's a very pleasant surprise. I brought a plus-one to the press screening back in April who despises all horror movies – and he loved The Cabin in the Woods. In fact, he found it so intelligent and entertaining that he rounded up a group of friends and took them to a showing on opening weekend. Don't believe in general audience opinion? Then look at the critics. With 197 reviews, The Cabin in the Woods is currently sitting pretty at 90 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. Those who heed the acclaim of general audiences or critics will be very, very glad they did.
Vital Disc Stats: The Ultra HD Blu-ray
Lionsgate Home Entertainment brings The Cabin in the Woods to 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray as a two-disc combo pack with a flyer for a Digital HD Copy, which can be redeemed via redeemmovie.com or through VUDU but only available in HD SDR and HDX. The dual-layered UHD66 disc sits comfortably opposite a Region A locked, BD50 disc inside a black, eco-cutout case with a glossy slipcover. At startup, the disc goes straight to a static menu screen with full-motion clips and music playing in the background.
The Video: Sizing Up the Picture
Nightmarish horrors break loose on Ultra HD with a good-looking and occasionally excellent H.265 encode in Dolby Vision HDR. Granted, the picture quality is an improvement in a few areas, but the upgrade to the more elaborate cabin isn't quite the five-star accommodation we've already come to expect of the format. Originally shot in traditional 35mm film and mastered in a 2K digital intermediate, the 2160p video shows a welcomed uptick in terms of definition and resolution. Individual hairs, whether atop the heads of the cast or the soggy, gooey hillbilly zombies, are resolute and clean while fans can better make out the various objects decorating the cabin. The grain in the wood walls are distinct, the lettering in books and computers monitors are detailed, and the tiniest blemish and imperfection of the neglected cabin is plainly visible. However, the jump isn't a dramatic, night-and-day difference with several soft moments littered throughout, a few that even look as though the result of mild noise reduction. Occasionally, the grain can also appear clumpy in one moment, almost like digital noise, and suddenly disappear the next.
Nevertheless, the 4K presentation is no worse than its Blu-ray counterpart while still offering a noticeably improvement in contrast, providing the overall picture with a slightly more punch and pop in Dolby Vision. The white of headlamps, flashlights and other light sources are brighter and almost eye-squinting in either format. But in HDR10, the hottest spots tend to bloom slightly and absorb some of the finer details whereas in DV, those same scenes expose a tiny bit more within the whitest white. In other areas, both versions find a happy middle ground in the specular highlights, providing the edges of certain objects with a nice sparkle, but it's nothing to really write home about. Instead, the brightness levels are the transfer's most attractive feature, delivering rich, opulent blacks throughout and dark, penetrating shadows, giving the presentation is creepier and more cinematic appeal. Only, there are times where the darkest portions tend to crush the finest details in HDR10, but the DV provides better gradational differences and allows for a bit more visibility. It's not by a significant margin, but it's notable nonetheless.
Presented in a 2.40:1 aspect ratio, the movie has never exactly been the most colorful or come with a particularly noteworthy cinematography, but in Dolby Vision, the largely limited palette is snappier and more vibrant than before. The red in blood appears thicker and more syrupy while the blues and greens in the clothing of our sacrificial mischievous young adults shines with a bit more intensity, as oppose to the HDR10 version. However, much of the photography leans towards earthier tones and soft yellowish hues, so the differences between the two is somewhat negligible. Still, the buttons on the console of the control room seem flashier and a smidgeon more dazzling while facial complexions appear healthier with a rosier color around the cheeks of many actors. In the end, however, the 4K presentation, in either HDR10 or Dolby Vision, isn't likely to wow anyone despite being a nice improvement over its HD SDR counterpart.
The Audio: Rating the Sound
Ritual sacrifice to appease the gods has never sounded so exciting as it does in this Dolby Atmos soundtrack. Similar to the video, the track is not significantly different from its DTS-HD counterpart, comparatively speaking. But it nonetheless enhances the original recording into a boisterous and rambunctious aural experience with several demo-worthy moments, making this the new preferred way of enjoying the movie. Although much of the design is focused on the fronts, there is still plenty of activity for employing the surrounds and ceiling, especially in the latter half of the movie when all hell breaks loose. Flying creatures flawlessly pan between the sides and overhead, bullets zoom in every direction and hit their target in various parts of the room, and debris from the phantasmagoric display of gory violence showers all around, creating an awesome hemispheric bubble around the listening area. Quieter scenes also come with the subtle sounds of local wildlife and the rustling of trees spreading into the space above for a lively soundfield.
A majority of the activity sprawls across the fronts as a variety of noises fluidly move between all three channels with convincing off-screen directionality, creating a wide, spacious soundstage for the entire runtime. Some of that activity fluidly spreads into the front heights, further adding to the design's spaciousness, and David Julyan's score takes advantage of the extra breathing room with extraordinary precision and fidelity in the orchestration. Imaging maintains crystal-clear clarity in the higher frequencies during the loudest segments, revealing lots of appreciable detailing and warmth in the midrange. Dialogue is crisp and precise in the center, never drowned out by the ear-piercing chaos. Most impressive of all is a surprisingly robust and authoritative low-end that will seriously test the capabilities of one's subwoofer, digging deep into the ultra-low depths with some demanding decibels. Any scene with some earthquake-like rumbling will do, but the best standout moments are Marty's supposed death scene and the fight with The Director as the temple crumbles all around.
The Supplements: Digging Into the Good Stuff
Audio Commentary: Writer/director Drew Goddard is joined by co-writer Joss Whedon to chat like long-time friends about the production and movies in general, sharing various memories, anecdotes from the set and their thoughts on the film itself. And their enthusiasm is quite contagious.
It's Not What You Think: The same picture-in-picture bonus view mode only available on the Blu-ray featuring a variety of cast & crew interviews, specific production details and tons of BTS footage.
We Are Not Who We Are (HD, 29 min): Fairly standard making-of featurette that's surprisingly entertaining while also being informative about various aspects of the production.
Wonder-Con Q&A (HD, 28 min): Goddard and Whedon participate in a moderated discussion after a screening at Wonder-Con and answer a variety of questions.
The Secret Stash (HD, 13 min): A pair of guided tours through drug paraphernalia props and the cabin.
Hi, My Name is Joss and I'll Be Your Guide
An Army of Nightmares (HD, 12 min): A closer look at the make-up and practical special effects.
Primal Terror (HD, 12 min): A good follow-up to the previous but focused on the visual effects.
HD Bonus Content: Any Exclusive Goodies in There?
Other than the 4K Ultra HD with Dolby Vision HDR, there are no new exclusive features for this release.
Fan of the horror genre or not, The Cabin in the Woods should be on your Must-See list. Not only is it a brilliant horror flick, but it's a brilliant film in general. Think of how audiences walked out of Inception saying, "I've never seen anything like that before," and that's what you're going to experience after seeing The Cabin in the Woods. Moviegoers who didn't like the science fiction or action genres refreshingly walked away from Inception with their minds blown. The Cabin in the Woods does the same.
The horror satire performs ritual sacrifice on Ultra HD with a good-looking 4K presentation with Dolby Vision HDR but doesn't quite deliver a night-and-day difference over its Blu-ray counterpart. On the other hand, the UHD comes with a demo-worthy Dolby Atmos soundtrack that noticeably improves on its predecessor. With the same set of supplements ported over, which is a good collection, the overall package is recommended for die-hard fans.
- Two-Disc UHD Combo Pack
- UHD-66 Dual-Layer Disc / BD-50 Dual-Layer Disc
- Region Free (UHD Only)
- 2160p HEVC/H.265
- English Dolby Atmos
- English DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1
- Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
- French Dolby Digital 5.1
- English, English SDH, Spanish
- Audio Commentary
- PiP BonusView Mode” (Blu-ray only)
- UltraViolet Digital Copy
Exclusive HD Content
- Blu-ray Copy
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