In respect to the amazing content that is The Cabin In The Woods, I am choosing to follow suit with the standard to warn you to not read this review if you are planning on seeing this movie. The plot would have been a lot less interesting if I knew anything about it going into the film. Take this opportunity to experience a great commentary on the horror genre without spoiling yourself with a trailer or review. You’ll thank me later.
With that out of the way, plot details will be discussed from here on out. You have been warned!
I find it very odd that the film hasn’t received as many comparisons to the Hunger Games and Portal series as I thought it would. In the world Cabin exists in, an underground organization of white collars regularly sends five people to be murdered in, you guessed it, a Cabin in the Woods. Now, before you go and doubt the depth of the film, heed the catchphrase of the movie’s poster: “You think you know the story.”
Cabin is at its heart, a horror parody film. No, this isn’t a Scream rip-off either. Instead of characters living in a universe where they reference cult classics like Halloween and Nightmare on Elm Street, this dramatic technique is achieved by playing off of the audiences’ expectations of a horror film. Much like The Hunger Games makes you question your choice in watching reality television, Cabin asks the viewer why they like horror movies in the first place. The film is able to de-glorify traditional horror stories, while also creating an impressive presentation for itself.
In mocking the horror genre, casting directors placed well-known Thor actor Chris Hemsworth in charge of the film’s star power. Complete with attractive teenagers, a “virgin heroine,” and an ominous townsperson speech, the formula for a run of the mill scare fest is set in place early on. Sticking out like a sore thumb from all of this is the film’s opening sequence, which follows the mundane conversations of two corporate employees. It is this scene that presents Cabin in a satirical light, as the men talking about what color to paint a bedroom back home turn out to be the workers pushing buttons to release murderous monstrosities upon the hapless teens.
It seems as though there isn’t a single aspect of a scary movie that wasn’t commented on in Cabin. One of the most notable commentaries was of the severity of the injuries victims sustain in horror films before showing even the slightest signs of fatigue or pain. Everything from a bear-trap to the back, to a surprise werewolf mauling fails to bring down the inhuman cast. Likewise, shout-outs to elements of films of past and present were given out, ranging from It to The Strangers.
The cherry on top of the smart script and concept is Cabin’s actors. Given that this is part-horror movie, the five teens must have been given a lot less to work with then they let show. There was a consistent and well rounded chemistry between the main cast, which can be attributed to the direction of Drew Goddard. Regardless, the characters were created as simple archetypes, as the movie doesn’t even try to hide—the teens aren’t even given last names!
Very funny, sometimes scary, and always smart, Cabin in the Woods is a true blue re-invention of horror parody. Although the secret of its story won’t hit as hard as the ending of Sixth Sense, expect to not know what to expect in the movie’s third and final act. If you’re looking for a good time at the movies, this hit is recommended for anyone who is a fan of either horror, or parodies in general.
In the spirit of Cabin, I’ll leave you with advice from another one of the film’s taglines of what to do if you ever find yourself in a horror movie: “If you hear a strange sound outside… have sex.”
*****/***** (Five out of five stars)
Rated R for “strong bloody horror violence and gore, language, drug use and some sexuality/nudity”
Running time: 95 minutes (1 hour and 35 minutes)
Release date: April 13, 2012