I first heard about the movie when it played AICN’s Butt-Numb-A-Thon 2012, and adhered to the recommendations to avoid everything you can about Cabin in the Woods. And rightly so as the fun with the movie is everything you don’t know about it.
So aside from seeing the trailer last year, I knew nothing of the movie. And even then, I didn’t recall what was in the trailer, so as far as I was concerned, I went in fresh.
On the outset, Cabin in the Woods is a straight-up horror movie, following five college students as they head to a countryside cottage for some R&R. All the typical horror archetypes are represented: the jock, the sweet and innocent virgin, the slutty slut, the thoughtful and articulate smart guy (note: not nerd), and the pot smoking, comedic relief. We also bounce between two laboratory technician characters who are monitoring the students for some mysterious reason. Just what are they up to? And why are they so cryptic?
As horror movies go, things aren’t what they seem. And not only that, but the things behind the things aren’t what they seem. And I’ll go no further. To say anything more would be to completely ruin the movie.
The flick was directed by Drew Goddard, of Cloverfield fame, and was co-scripted and produced by frequent collaborator, Joss Whedon, as well. The movie clearly has a Whedon-esque vibe, complete with its dark sense of humour, especially the end sequence which seemed like it could have been something right out of an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
In an interview with Whedon on TotalFilm.com, Whedon describes the movie as a “Loving Hate Letter” to horror. It’s a critique at everything that he and Goddard love and hate about the genre, and more specifically, the devolution of the genre. And it’s true. How many horror movies have you seen in the last few years that didn’t involve either found footage or torture?
In a way Cabin in the Woods reminded me of the first Scream movie, where during viewing I was focused more on the subtext and statement rather than the actual story. Horror movies like these are great, but they need to be taken in doses. You can’t have two of these in the same year.
I think last year’s Insidious proved, critically and financially, that all you need is a solid story and direction, to scare people into and not out of the theaters. All you need is some sense of co-ordination, you don’t even need a completely original story. You just need to know how to tell it. Shock factor is passe. They’re cheap thrills and don’t leave a lasting taste.
The thought that went across my mind as the credits began to roll was how would everyone else receive it? On one hand, it’s received praise nearly across the board from the critics. On the other hand, the end product is quite a niche product. Genre nerds will likely love it and get more out of it than the layperson will.
In the end, it’s hard for me to truly recommend this to everyone despite its greatness. If you’re a gorehound or a horror nerd, then you’ve probably already seen it, so there’s no more to say. However, if you are just a regular appreciator of horror, I think you’ll probably find more entertaining movies from the lexicon of horror. Til next time, later geeks!