There's a fetishistic disparity at the heart of most American horror films about the woods. On the one hand, we're usually treated to a technological backwater or blindspot - somewhere "off the grid", as one of the teenagers in The Cabin In The Woods puts it. On the other hand, we're invariably watching that technological blindspot from a multiplex, a home theatre, an entertainment console - in other words, some kind of technological epicentre or node, snugly couched in all the communicative resources that the characters so desperately need. What produces the tension is the way the cabin, or some surrogate structure, gradually comes to be a nascent machine, or a nascent version of the very technosphere within which we're so securely watching it. Drew Goddard and Joss Whedon's extraordinary collaboration turns this on its head by opening with two competing narratives - a traditional, cabin-in-the-woods narrative, and a metanarrative, in which the grisly trajectories of the first narrative are monitored and mapped out by a scientific establishment. This early reveal is a risky move, since the metanarrative is not only comic, but imbued with a peculiarly banal, middle-managerial comic signature which would seem inimical to fully-fledged horror and suspense. However, not only do Goddard and Whedon beautifully present comedy as postponed horror, and banality as repressed horror, but they build the most elegant fusion of horror and comedy since Scream - and it stands in relation to cabin horror much as Scream does to suburban horror. Both films manage to remain scary even or especially when the audience knows exactly what is going to happen - or, rather, is reminded that they know - and the peculiar nature of Cabin's reminder creates something like the unsettling, pervasive dread of watching the film as part of an undisclosed experiment, or suddenly realising that the cinema is performing some kind of clinical task, that it is inhabiting us as much as we are inhabiting it. All this produces the strange, limited sense of autonomy peculiar to a Choose Your Own Adventure novel, or the behavioural economics that Goddard and Whedon's vision so astutely satirises - the logic of the film's universe is that the narrative will be different each screening, but not too different; novel, but still recognisable; game-changing, but still revelling in the same game.