For all the impact of Chris Nolan's Bat wrap-up, 2012 has been Joss Whedon’s year.
OK, so he’s co-writer on The Cabin In The Woods rather than director, but its close release to Avengers Assemble served, if anything, to underline what it is about him that has finally taken him from niche adulation to the near-top of the movie tree. Instead of Nolan’s striving to transcend his genre, Whedon is as much a fanboy as any Comic-Con-goer wandering San Diego.
He loves comic-books, and one look at Cabin confirms he loves horror.
Taking the meta-horror of Scream to bold new places, he and director/co-writer Drew Goddard initially deliver a set-up stale in 1982 - a gaggle of co-eds on a getaway.
But there’s another thread intertwined as the young ’uns undress – two bored engineer types, capably played by Richard Jenkins and Bradley Whitford, in a remote-control facility who bitch about banal things.
Revealing how they come together would give half the fun away, but suffice it to say it flaunts Goddard and Whedon’s knowledge and passion for horror’s rules and clichés.
There are genre nods in every scene, but that’s been done before; where Whoddard really take things to new places is their exploration of why we love watching attractive young things torn apart.
Could it be to appease dark urges within us?
The skill with which a pretty esoteric thesis is meshed with whole abattoir-loads of blood, a pretzel-twisty plot (which does arguably over-extend itself) and regular belly laughs marks out just why Whedon deserves his new place at the Hollywood big boys’ table.
He and Goddard flex their wit on a chat-track, heading up a busy disc (particularly if you buy Blu).