|A Spoiler-Free Review||2 out of 9 users found this review helpful.|
A movie which oozes vanity from every pore, The Cabin in the Woods may be clever, but its story-telling skills are below that of a rejected script for a Ghost Rider film.
Five college kids go to an old cabin in the middle of a deep forest for some partying. They are suddenly attacked by a bunch of redneck zombies. But nothing is as it seems!
This movie—written by Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Firefly Serenity creator Joss Whedon and Cloverfield scribe Drew Goddard (who also directs)—isn’t a horror. It’s a parody of a horror. It isn’t a comedy though, since it isn’t comedic. It has one gimmick and that is “plot twists.” The only fun to be had is by 1) marveling at how creative the writers are to come up with increasingly bizarre and unpredictable stories and 2) marveling at how sophisticated you are for enjoying this high-concept art.
While obnoxious, the movie would be tolerable if it didn’t start mocking its plot twists by destroying the few morals modern day horror movies have. Yes, it is a convention that bad people get punished in horror movies, or that doing stupid things like getting high or having sex on Camp Crystal Lake beaches gets you killed. But it isn’t just a concept—it is a metaphor. How many times in the original Paranormal Activity did Kate ask Micah to stop treating the demon like a plaything? That is because (try as the sequels might to erase that fact) the movie had a point—some things you really shouldn’t mess around with.
It is like if at the end of Spider-man a ninja orc popped out of Aunt May’s head and killed Mary Jane. Yes, we wouldn’t expect it—because it is utterly stupid and meaningless. Even very simple films like Saw try to convey something to the viewer. And even if that something is merely an excuse for violence it is at least an effort to keep from having a negative value. Many horror movies have an end where everyone dies despite doing nothing wrong, but at least they don’t have bad deeds be the best way to not die. Yes, we expect that while everyone in Final Destination is screwed the guy who thinks killing his mother will make him immortal is in for the biggest shock. The Cabin in the Woods goes so far as to say “No, being selfish no matter who dies WILL save you and that is totally 100% all right.”
It is very hard to talk about Cabin without giving away plot points. I will say, though, that the biggest thing that concerns me about the characters’ actions is their heavy marijuana use. It isn’t a harmless form of recreation—it fries your brain. However that isn’t the only poor choice the characters are rewarded for doing. They are nasty, self-centered, immoral jerks who care nothing about the best of mankind. Also the main protagonist (played “iChannel” star Kristen Connolly) seems to be trying to be an utterly pathetic idiot. I don’t know how much of that is Connelly’s acting and how it is clear someone had the idea to mock the foolish young girl protagonist of horror movies by making their protagonist overly obnoxious, klutzy, and stupid. It doesn’t work—she isn’t so ridiculously annoying as to be funny, she is just irritating enough to make viewers on edge for the whole picture.
The most frustrating part is that the movie is dripping with the arrogance that this new style of filmmaking is superior to regular horror or comedy films. Ghost Rider films are awful, but they admit they are awful. The Cabin in the Woods is clearly meant to be a cult film, and the cult is definitely centered around ridiculing movies with actual themes or story. The glee with which the picture decimates all the story-telling conventions shows that the filmmakers see no need for the traditions of “theme” and “plot.” Was Cabin’s “creativity” so incredible it was worth paying for instead of a vastly more profitable traditional horror with actual theme and story? The arrogance of the filmmakers is apparent simply because they said “yes.” (If you are wondering what studio funded Cabin, the answer is MGM, and this movie has been on the shelf for three years since MGM went bankrupt and had to sell it for practically nothing).
It is rare we see a horror film that turns out to really be a stoner comedy. But that isn’t because everyone else is unoriginal—it is because that it is a terrible idea.
Trailer 2: Cabin In The Woods
"The lambs have come to the killing floor!" That's a pretty creepy thing to say, assuming you're not talking about actual lambs. And even then...
Trailer: The Cabin In The Woods
When your movie is from the writer of Cloverfield, one thing is for sure: you're not going to have any clue what it's about when you're done with the trailer.
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