Let’s Talk About Cabin In The Woods [SPOILERS]
If you’ve somehow stumbled in here and managed to miss the spoiler tag in the headline and ambled into this story unaware, here is one last warning–I am going to spoil Cabin in the Woods. If you simply must know what I thought of the film here is the quick and dirty review: It’s a generally fun and fast horror movie that isn’t particularly scary, but manages to work considerably because of its impressive deconstruction of the genre, and is incredibly worthy of seeing if you enjoy horror movies. Now, if you want to avoid spoilers, SCRAM! You have been warned.
When I stepped foot out of the theater I couldn’t fathom how to “review” Cabin in the Woods without talking about the interesting twists and turns of its core conceit. I’m sure it’s possible, but talking around Cabin’s story would be the absolute worst thing to write. I decided that what I really wanted to do was to talk about this film with people who’ve seen it and have more of a discussion about the film and what it was trying to do instead of just critiquing it.
The greatest thing about Cabin in the Woods is that the script by Joss Whedon and director Drew Goddard allows Cabin to exist in the same universe as nearly every horror film created. Hell, based on the ending, Cabin could potentially exist in the same universe as the Goddard scripted monster movie, Cloverfield.
Everything in Cabin has been carefully constructed to evoke some piece of other horror movies. Our “heroes” meet a creepy gas station attendant who spouts evil sounding cryptic messages–he’s working for the facility to unbalance the kids. Marty (Fran Kranz) is smoking a ton of pot? It’s been treated with harder drugs to keep him perpetually stoned. Jules (Anna Hutchison) dyes her hair blonde? The facility has it treated with drugs to make her act like the horny ditz from a horror movie. Even the titular cabin is methodically created to look like something from a horror movie (in this case Evil Dead). The film’s title (which I initially thought was pretty derivative) was carefully chosen to subvert your idea of what this film is. It’s not about the cabin or the woods…not really. We spend more time in the facility than the cabin. But, the name plays into the genre deconstruction that Goddard and Whedon are playing with.
The main conceit of the underground facility directing the murders of people who fall into horror stereotypes in order to appease an ancient god is incredibly intriguing and my only issues with the film relate to the very definitive conclusion that prevents a sequel from being made. I would totally be interested in a series of films showing the inner workings of the facility. A complex housing every type of horror movie monster imaginable? Hell yes, I want more of that. There’s even an explanation as to why the goody-two shoes “virginal” character survives to the end of horror movies. It’s such a clever and simple sounding idea within the film that I sort of have to wonder why it’s taken someone this long to come up with an idea like this.
It’s like The Hunger Games, only instead of Panem Tributes fighting to the death with Gamemakers controlling every aspect of an arena, it’s people trying to survive a horror movie while the facility employees (playing the role of Gamemakers wonderfully) carefully control the enclosed area where they’ve trapped the people–setting off traps, chemicals, and eyeing monitors to watch the entire thing.
The main cast is so effortlessly charming. Chris “Thor” Hemsworth proves again that he’s leading man material (even if he’s not the main character here) as he plays a character that’s lead down the path to being the jock stereotype, but still manages to be frighteningly warm in the role. Kristen Connolly’s character fits into the Whedon hero model very nicely. Fran Kranz is hilarious at times as the stoner with a heart of gold.
It’s not a perfect film though. It’s not particularly scary (outside of a few jump scares) and it’s lousy at giving any real answers to the myriad questions I had throughout about the nature of the facility and the beasties contained within, but Whedon’s trademark humor and snappy dialogue keep things interesting throughout. And if I’m being brutally honest, if I find the film lacking of more information it’s only because whats there is so good that I wanted more.
So that’s it, I’m sure I haven’t spoiled every thing in this movie yet. I’ll leave that up to you in comments. Fire away! What did you think of Cabin in the Woods?