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John's Horror Banana-nanza Episode Seventy : The Cabin In The Woods
This is a movie I could spend days and days talking about. Of all the horror that came out in 2012, most people list this at the top, or at least near it. Before I spoil it away, and I will, let me just shout out to a few people who made this movie rock.
Richard Jenkins and Bradley Whitford are astounding as Sitterson and Hadley. They really are the movie. Every moment they’re on screen, it’s where you want to be. You’re glued to their every word, as they slowly unravel what’s going on to the kids. Joss Whedon’s not one of my favorite people, but his in-depth understanding of the genre is absolutely a joy to see come to fruition. And let’s not forget my favorite Hollywood lady, Sigourney Weaver, who literally comes from NOWHERE to steal the final shots of the movie.
So, let’s spoil it, shall we?
The movie starts with Sitterson and Hadley getting chewed out by some woman about how they suck at their job. Then the title comes out of nowhere, a la “Funny Games”, and suddenly we’re hanging out with a pantless girl named Dana and her friend Jules, getting ready to go to a cabin for a weekend. We get Curt and Holden, two dudes in the most basic of dudelike ways, and also Marty, a stoner of the most stoned degree. Why are they going? Who are these people? Well, at first we think they’re the victims. And in the slasher genre way of thinking, they are. They’re meat being lead to slaughter.
However, slowly we find out that Sitterson and Hadley are working for Lovecraftian beings who live under the Earth, and need sacrifices, very specifically carried out. So what we’re really learning is, every slasher movie’s cliché is necessary to appease the Ancient Ones. And deviating from that plan, while satisfying to the audience, would kill everyone.
So thanks to gas, chemicals, and the power of suggestion, the group chooses to ignore a warning from a disgusting gas attendant, and then chooses to be killed by a redneck zombie family. The scene in the basement uses props that borrow from “Evil Dead”, “Hellraiser”, and many other films. It’s a joy.
So they start dying as you might imagine they would, even deciding to split up after first deciding to stay together. They escape the cabin, except for Jules and Marty, and nearly escape as the tunnel cave-in is prevented from “upstairs.” However, it finally does explode, and Curt, while trying to jump a cavern and get help, runs into the invisible wall that holds them inside and dies.
And on the way back to the camp, the zombie kills Holden, leaving just Dana to fight them off. Which completes the ritual, as the “virgin” can fight for herself and live or die as fate chooses. However, there’s a problem. Marty is still alive, and in fact, is probably who stopped the cave-in. So as the crew scrambles to kill Marty first and Dana second, they make their way down into a basement where every creature you could ever imagine in a horror movie resides. Then they’re let loose. And holy shit, is it spectacular.
That’s when Sigourney Weaver shows up to explain that if these kids don’t die, the Ancient Ones will rise up and kill everyone. So suddenly, I don’t like these “victims” any more. I want them dead.
And then it occurs to me. Is this movie trying to be something more than it appears? Are the ancient ones our society, and the killings in slasher movies a way to appease us and keep us from fulfilling our violent tendencies? I don’t want to get too deep, but I know that some argue horror movies cause killers, while others say it prevents them. It seems to be trying to say something bigger than, “Haha. We really got you, horror fans!”
And that’s why this movie absolutely requires multiple viewings. Everytime I see it, I find something else I can latch onto, or something I miss. Watching it pulling for the villains from the very beginning gives it an even crazier feel, but then again, when you watch a horror movie, aren’t you always pulling for Jason and Freddy? Maybe that’s the point.
But to be honest, I don’t care what the point is. I love this movie for whatever it’s trying to be, but mostly for being a damn good horror film.