The Cabin in the Woods

Bottom Line: The Cabin in the Woods is an amusing hour and a half of satire.

Directed by: Drew Goddard
Starring: Anna Hutchison, Bradley Whitford, Chris Hemsworth, Fran Kranz, Jesse Williams, Kristen Connolly, Richard Jenkins

In premise, The Cabin in the Woods seems a ninety-minute cliché. With every passing year, the horror genre somehow manages to grow more and more tiresome, recycling stories as old as the creation of verbal language. There isn’t one bit of originality in a story that finds a group of morally dysfunctional (not to mention, downright stupid) teenagers trapped in a haunted house. There is gushing originality in The Cabin in the Woods, and it all comes down to the impressive writing. Every event that unfolds is not supported by the script, but instead handled in a humorous light. Although Cloverfield writer Drew Goddard deserves credit for the more chilling side of the story, the film takes complete flight via the co-writing of Joss Whedon, whose fanboy appeal will provide just about anything to crack a smile.

“What was that noise?” Probably laughter from the audience.

The Cabin in the Woods is a gleefully uncommon sort of horror-comedy. Within the past few years, we’ve gotten Drag Me to Hell and Tucker and Dale vs. Evil. Both of those are ingenious in their own rights, but in essential contrast with Cabin, neither one put the genre to a very effective use. The idea here is similar to what we saw in 2000’s Scary Movie, yet the results are so much more surprising and sophisticated, with outrageous honesty in place of pop culture non sequiturs. Much fun is had during the transformation of dull cinematic corn into the cream of the crop. We get a more “behind the scenes”, Truman Show-ish look at the adolescents’ situations; this is perhaps the least absurd step taken. The final twenty minutes are indeed ridiculously loud and chaotic, but (oddly enough) they justify the film’s point more concisely than everything prior.

Cabin delivers campy wit in a fashion that makes Whedon’s The Avengers seem far too straightforward. The film acts as an upbeat, satirical ode (though it’s a bit difficult to call a parody) to such catastrophic, apocalyptic 21st century horror. And it does, at times, fail to make complete sense, but such flaws are almost inevitable in the absence of convention. So if I may rephrase my first sentence. In premise and only premise, The Cabin in the Woods seems a ninety-minute cliché. Ultimately, it employs those clichés and uses its script as a rite to look down upon it and laugh. The rest, I shall not reveal. I leave you with the film itself so as not to spoil what will come as genuine surprise.

B PLUS

WINNER
Best Screenplay

NOMINEE
Best Supporting Actor (Fran Kranz)

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16 thoughts on “The Cabin in the Woods

  1. Good review here. Cabin in the Woods is not the type of flick I usually like, but damn, how wrong could I be? I loved every minute of its deliberate, satirical tone. That ending was just bliss.

    • How embarrassing it must be for the “filmmakers” who make movies that match up with this (maybe not the ending haha) and intend to frighten an audience, not burst it into laughter.

      I think the most memorable part about the ending–again, without spoiling anything for anyone who may come across this comment–was Sigourney Weaver’s cameo.

  2. I’ve stayed away from the Horror genre most of my life. Most of them seem the same; just shallow. These past years though, I have seen a couple of ones that were pretty good. When I first heard baout this one I put it way down on my list to see for this year. A lot of positive review have been coming and this turns out to be something different. I’m eager to see this now. Well, I need a movie to keep me preoccupied until my time clears up to see Looper. Great review.

  3. I really liked this movie, in the land of crappy horrors a film like this really stands out. Though recent great films from the genre, The Cabin in the Woods and Drag me To Hell along with Tucker and Dale vs. Evil, as you mentioned, are more of a satire than atmospheric horror stories. Still, really fun movies though I wish the genre would be in better shape.

    • I’d assume that someone who doesn’t see the satirical nature of the film probably accepts the dumbest of horror movies at face value. (Didn’t you just love the druggie? “I dare you…to make out with…that moose…over there.” “Have you ever seen a moose before?” “Whatever that mysterious beast is.”)

  4. Based on your comment to my review, I expected at least an A-. This reads less glowing than my review.

    “The final twenty minutes are indeed ridiculously loud and chaotic,”

    That was my favorite part! Loved every minute of the ending. 🙂

    • I did say the ending was “ridiculously loud and chaotic”. But I also mentioned the absurd nature of the film, which is why the conclusion works so well. There are countless surprises in the film, but about 75% of them occur within the final twenty minutes.

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