Cabin in the Woods Review
Cabin the Woods is the funniest movie I have seen in years. Most reviewers don't seem to want to give anything away at all and I understand that, but there really aren't many secrets or twists. It's more or less clear from the beginning what's going on. So if you really don't want to know anything just stop reading right now. Go see it and then if you are inclined come back. If you need to know a little more about it press on.
The movie is not a horror film in any way shape or form. Rather, it is a comedy intended for horror fans. If you don't like that genre you will still enjoy this film, but true horror fans will get the most out of it. The film is not just an extended lampshading of horror cliches, but nearly every single shot seems to be calculated as some sort of reference or in-joke. It will be a rare savant who would get all of them (I'm sure I missed a ton). So at the beginning of the film when they show the main female character dancing in her underwear they're not just providing fan service for the audience, or even just referencing the fact that it's a common shot. The director (Drew Goddard) is also making fun of YOU for wanting to see that sort of thing and putting up with seeing it over and over again in every horror film.
The basic plot is that five somewhat stereotypical characters go to the titular structure for a fun weekend. We know from the very beginning that not only are they being watched and have entered a so called “field of play”, but we see the mysterious yet goofy characters watching them and attempting to manipulate events. For example, one of the characters dyed her hair blonde and it is mentioned that the dye was tainted with a chemical that would affect her brain – turning her into the dumb blonde. Our athletic character was also an extremely intelligent grad student, until chemicals pumped into the cabin by our mysterious organization also make him into a foolish jock. And then when those two characters decide to have sex in the middle of the woods...if you don't know you've never seen a horror film before so quickly watch fifty or so of those and then come back to this movie.
Back at the command center for the organization manipulating our characters we see them taking bets on what ancient evil they're going to accidentally awake that will kill them with one woman humorously confused between “zombies” and “zombie redneck torture family.” They cheer on as characters die in a gruesome ways as a stand-in for the audience. But it is not a condemnation of the viewer, rather a celebration. There are also glimpses of other such scenarios going on in the world at the same time, like a pale floating ghost terrorizing a classroom full of Asian schoolgirls.
Producer and co-writer Joss Whedon called the movie a “love hate letter” to horror films. It does not necessarily condemn every aspect of its target genre, not at all. But will this movie truly shake up the genre like it clearly wants to? I like to think that the next time someone makes a horror film they will think of Cabin in the Woods first and attempt to avoid the cliches or at least use them to better effect. If horror fans are lucky this film will cast its shadow over the entire genre. Maybe some of these tired and now boring techniques will lay dead and buried, or perhaps they'll suddenly open their glowing eyes in the very last shot just as we assume we're finally safe...
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