This is actually an even more belated review than normal, it’s been sitting on my Amazon list forever, then I got it and it sat around for a long, long time until I actually got around to watching it. It’s not because I didn’t want to watch it, although my wife really isn’t into horror movies, but for some bizarre reason, it would never play right on our Blu Ray player and it was too late to return it to Amazon for a replacement so it just sat on the shelf gathering dust. Eventually, we got it to work and here’s the review of Joss Whedon’s Cabin in the Woods.
When Dana, Jules, Holden, Curt and Marty go to a remote cabin in the woods, supposedly Curt’s cousin’s place, bad things happen. After running into a creepy old gas station attendant, Mordecai, who warns them to stay away from the woods, they arrive and find the cabin, creepy with secret two way mirrors, evil basements and pictures of carnage on the walls. The kids get into the basement and it’s filled with an array of dark objects, each of which will summon a different horrific fate for them all. Unknowingly, they resurrect the pain-worshipping zombie Buckner family who comes to kill the unwitting teens. First to die is Jules, who gets her head sawed off while on a romantic tryst in the woods with Curt. Covered in blood, he runs back to the cabin with zombies in shambling pursuit. Surrounded by the walking dead and their torture devices, the teens have to struggle to survive. Of course, all is not as it seems, they are being monitored by scientists in a bunker far below the cabin and these scientists put the teens through every horror trope there is. When Curt suggests that they shouldn’t split up, they should stay together, they use a gas to make him change his mind. Eventually, the cast is whittled down to just Dana and Marty and they manage to find their way down to the control level. If the scientists can’t kill Marty first, then their mission has failed and the Ancient Ones, a group of old gods, will rise up and destroy the world because they haven’t gotten their annual tribute. Dana turns the table on the scientists, unleashing all of the various horrors on the staff and killing them all. The Director, played by Sigourney Weaver, gives them the back story a little too late, just before she, herself, is killed and the Ancient Ones are unleashed, destroying the world and killing everyone.
Now I’ve written in the past about my distaste for the modern horror movie, all gore, all sex, no plot and no sense. Of course, Cabin in the Woods is largely a send-up of the horror genre, not as a farce like the Scary Movie series, but just enough to poke fun at the typical tropes and give a sly wink to the audience that it knows what it’s spoofing. It also pays homage to a lot of movies, such as the Evil Dead films, where the “Deadites” and the “Angry Molesting Tree” are listed on a whiteboard where the scientists are betting on which evil will befall the hapless teens. The four monsters from the Left 4 Dead video game series make an appearance, there was supposed to be an expansion for the game where players had to run through the woods to the cabin, chased by the zombies but that was never released. There was also a version of Clive Barker’s Pinhead character who had saw blades in his head instead of pins and was carrying a spherical Lemarchand’s box instead of the cube. They’ve also got a clown that’s either based on Pennywise from Stephen King’s “It” or the Killer Klowns From Outer Space, perhaps both. In fact, there are so many monsters in this show that they had to cut a lot of them. Joss Whedon says there were over 100 different monsters, plus 70 zombies or so. Some of them only appear in the Making Of featurette.
I think it’s funny that after early screening, someone asked director Drew Goddard if there would be a sequel and he said “Have you seen the ending to my movie?” I mean seriously, the world ended! There are a lot of really funny bits about this movie that just spring to mind without actually being in the movie. My wife and I spent half of it making Thor jokes every time Chris Hemsworth was on screen and of course, there was a liberal sprinkling of Person of Interest jokes when Amy Acker walked by as well.
There are spoofs and there are spoofs and it depends on your tastes, I suppose. Cabin in the Woods is designed so that the fans of the genre and those who have never seen a horror flick can enjoy it just the same and it never goes so far as to be absurd, there’s an air of believability in it throughout. You’ll never go rolling your eyes at how silly it is and there are enough easter eggs for the fan of the genre to catch through several viewings. In a lot of ways, it’s a love letter to the genre that points out a lot of the genre’s foibles and for that, it’s a great watch. It’s not going to win any Oscars and it didn’t, but it did win the Saturn Award for Best Horror/Thriller and Fangoria’s Chainsaw Award for Best Wide Release Film. Go check it out, if you like horror and you want some chuckles, it’s really a fun flick. However, there are plenty of people who expect it to be a straight-up horror movie and can’t understand why it’s not doing all the things they expect. These people are idiots. I can’t tell you how many reviews I ran across online written by idiots. Why are there so many idiots out there?
If you want to see a different take on the horror genre, a send up of a lot of the standard tropes, that’s not meant to be slapstick, this is a good movie to see. It’s like what Scream did for the horror genre in the 90s. It’s not what the Scary Movie franchise did for the horror genre in the 2000s. Check it out.