The Cabin in the Woods is a movie I am currently enjoying a great deal, and not because I’m watching it right now. I’m enjoying it because it isn’t too often that a film comes along, decently made that, at the same time, can completely confound critics.
If you’re a fan of horror films, you know that the standard movie these days involves idiot kids/teens, isolation, and gore for the sake of gore. There is very little plot, even less acting, and a predictable finish (even if it is predictably unpredictable). I’m not a fan of modern horror films because of these reasons. I want a story to get into without yelling “You idiot!” at the screen.
Joss Whedon described this film, which he co-wrote, as a “loving hate letter” to the horror genre. Whedon and Drew Goddard completely call out Hollywood for using the same crap over and over again, with hilarious results. Whedon and Goddard answer a question brought up in one of my own TV shorts: “Why do people insist on leaving their friends and go off by themselves when there is some psycho (that could probably be incapacitated in a group effort) looking to kill them?” What’s their answer? Obviously, there is a secret government organization in charge of making sure these kids are killed and they pipe in gas that makes people stupid.
The concept is genius: make a horror film that makes fun of (and explains) horror cliches while at the same time not taking itself too seriously. We get to see behind the scenes at the folks who are manufacturing gruesome death traps, holding captive every monster imaginable (to use in said death traps), and cheering their successful killings because they stop the world from being destroyed by the ancient gods.
But maybe the best part about the Cabin in the Woods is that it is nearly completely ‘critic-proof.’ While it has garnered mostly positive reviews thus far, there are a few who just don’t get it. It’s one thing if you don’t like this film because you’re not a horror fan, or just didn’t like the story. That’s legit. But some critics are criticizing this film for it’s cliches. One compared it to a Scooby Doo cartoon. But that’s what it is supposed to be. Whedon and Goddard tear down the walls of the horror film and hold what is inside up for all to see. “Look what you did!” they say. This is satire at its finest. And of course it’s always fun to see monsters running around right before the end of the world.
In the year of Joss Whedon (The Avengers is getting rave reviews out of its premiers and preview crowds), the Cabin in the Woods may finish in second, but its a solid second. It’s funny, kinda scary, and pretty bloody (yes, this isn’t typically my kind of film), and it’s memorable. It gets 7 out of 10 stars in my book.