The Cabin in the Woods arrives on 4K UHD Blu-ray with an upscaled Dolby Vision HDR transfer and Dolby Atmos audio, making for a fun ride at home.
The Production: 4/5
Five young adults go for a weekend in the woods, only to find themselves in a horrifying situation that is out of their control in Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard’s horror-comedy The Cabin in the Woods. To say anymore would certainly spoil the fun in a movie that almost sat on a studio shelf indefinitely due to the MGM bankruptcy in 2010. Lionsgate snatched up the rights and released the film almost one month before Joss Whedon’s second directorial effort, The Avengers, arrived on movie screens. There are a lot of familiar faces in Cabin in the Woods, noticeably Chris Hemsworth as Curt the stereotypical jock (cast months before he got the role of Thor), Whedon favorites Fran Kranz (Dollhouse) as stoner Marty and Amy Acker (Angel, Dollhouse) as chemical tech Wendy Lin, and character actors Richard Jenkins (Step Brothers, Jack Reacher) and Bradley Whitford (The West Wing) as technicians Sitterson and Hadley. The screenplay by first-time director Drew Goddard (Cloverfield, The Martian) and Joss Whedon is very much a social commentary on the horror film genre at the time of its production, taking viewers on a roller coaster ride with many unexpected twists and turns where things aren’t entirely what they appear to be and a third act that (almost) goes off the rails. The Cabin in the Woods is an impressive directorial debut from two of the best writers in the business.
3D Rating: NA
Lionsgate continues their excellent track record of upscaling a 2K digital intermediate of a catalog title to 2160p, and it seems the studio has embraced Dolby Vision as their primary HDR choice (even though very few UHD Blu-ray players and TVs support it). The good news is that it apparently is mostly backwards compatible with the open source HDR10 that is found on most UHD players and displays manufactured within the last few years. Compared to its 1080p Blu-ray counterpart, the UHD version excels with a modest improvement in fine detail (the pattern in Bradley Whitford’s white dress shirt is much more defined, for example) and film grain is also more noticeable without affecting detail. Colors, especially red, are more natural and vivid, with streams of blood (and there is a lot of it on display) appearing much more fluid and dimensional. Contrast is improved upon here and there, although there are a few minor instances of black crush that can be found if you go looking for them.
This is where the UHD gains major ground over its Blu-ray counterpart’s 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track. As I’ve noted in many of my other reviews, the Dolby TrueHD 7.1 core found in Dolby Atmos tracks tend to have a much stronger LFE track than even their non-Atmos mixes. That is the case here, as well. Played back in a standard 7.1 configuration (Atmos is coming as soon as my private screening room is completed), the Atmos track is more expansive than the DTS-HD MA 7.1 track on the Blu-ray, with discrete sounds from more precise locations (and I’m not talking about specific speakers, either). Dialogue is also stronger and more pronounced, too. This is very much a reference-quality track. Lionsgate has also included Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 and English Dolby Digital 2.0 mixes that are not found on the Blu-ray.
Special Features: 4/5
Like most Lionsgate UHD releases, most of the special features have been ported over and are included on the UHD disc.
Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Drew Goddard and Writer/Producer Joss Whedon: The two discuss at length how they came upon writing the screenplay together (Goddard was a writer on Whedon’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer), the casting process, etc. It’s a fun and informative track.
We Are Not Who We Are: The Making of The Cabin in the Woods (1080p; 28:33): Interviews with Goddard and Whedon discussing the creative process are intercut with behind the scenes footage for an interesting look at the making of the film.
Marty’s Stash (1080p; 8:04): Actor Fran Kranz discusses and demonstrates many of the drug paraphernalia props his character used in the movie.
Hi, My Name is Joss and I’ll Be Your Guide (1080p; 5:02): Joss Whedon takes us on a tour of the cabin set.
An Army of Nightmares: Make-up and Animatronic Effects (1080p; 12:09): A look at many of the practical effects used in the film.
Primal Terror: Visual Effects (1080p; 12:07): As the title indicates, this is a look at the many green screen and CGI effects created for the film.
Wonder-Con Q&A (1080p; 27:30): Whedon and Goddard are interviewed after a screening of the film at the 2012 Wonder-Con.
Theatrical Trailer (1080p; 2:26)
It’s Not What You Think: The Cabin in the Woods Bonus View Mode: This is the only special feature that was not ported over to the UHD version, but is available on the included Blu-ray disc. This is your old-fashioned PiP feature with interviews and behind the scenes footage appearing sporadically in a small window while viewing the film.
Digital HD Copy: An insert contains a code that can be redeemed thru UltraViolet partners such as Vudu.
Lionsgate continues to not disappoint with their output of catalog titles on UHD. The Cabin in the Woods is another exemplary effort on their part.