Saturday, November 16, 2013

MR Cabin in the Woods

Movie: The Cabin in the Woods
Directed by Drew Goddard 
Release date 2012
Genre Slasher/Horror/Comedy meta-film
Country USA

Filmed in 2009 on a very modest budget, screened at some festivals in 2011 to finally actually be released on theaters in 2012, The Cabin in the Woods is a pretty fun play on the whole horror slasher genre.

It also profited from featuring Chris Hemsworth (aka Thor) long before he broke big... but since the film finally hit theaters after Thor's release, they were able to capitalize on his newfound popularity.

The film was imagined by nerds favorite Joss Whedon. Produced by him and co-written by Whedon and Drew Goddard, a long time associate that worked prior to this with Joss Whedon as a screenwriter, director and producer on most of his TV series as as well as J. J. Abrams' Alias, Lost and Cloverfield. Fun fact: he also even had a cameo on Joss Whedon's Dr. Horrible.

Cabin in the Woods marked his directing debut.

Cabin in the Woods was conceived as an outlet for both man to play with and revitalize slasher films - a genre they both appreciated but didn't get to play with up to this point - as well as a satire of the whole torture porn genre that has taken over horror in theaters these last few years. Subverting clichés, in pure Whedon fashion.

The story opens very strangely in some mysterious underground facility, as we seeoffice workers discussing, portrayed by Bradley Whitford (playing here "Hadley") and the great Richard Jenkins (as Sitterson).

We then meet a group of college students about to take a break in a desert cabin in the forest.

We are introduced to Dana (Kristen Connely), Curt (Chris Hemsworth), Jules (Anna Hutchison), Holden (Jesse Williams) and Marty (Fran Kranz).

Long story short, the story of the teenagers at the cabin appears to intersects with the bets between departments going on the facility. Further confusing the audience... or is it?

It appears that the people working in the bureaus are some kind of scientists manipulating the outcome at the cabin. For what kind of experiment? What purpose?

The kids get more and more irrational thoughts ("let's split up!" "let's check this strange and dangerous sound over here, alone, all by myself", etc.). Guided by their own libido they take the worst possible decisions.

They find several strange artifacts in the cellar.. which ends up summoning zombie hillbillies!

The "slut" dies, the "virgin" will no doubt live to see the day. But instead of behind the first one to go, the "stoner" starts to question their faith... Are people toying with their lives?

This movie gets playfully fun with the genre. No big spoilers here, it was all announced with movie posters/DVD covers and with a pretty clever yet simple title card.

Cabin in the Woods presents itself as a loving deconstruction of the genre.

While the first half plays like a straight "classic" horror film, you can still see hints at a much more intelligence storyline. Joss Whedon did a strong script, he's a master of great pacing and playing with our expectations.

Playing with archetypes, done with a twist. The sexy "slut" girl turns out to be a pre-med! The stoner's probably the most heroic of the bunch too.

If you ever wondered why people act so dumb in slashers, once kids start thinking about sex, drugs and alcohol why do slasher killers get attracted to them, this movie tries to give an answer.

Also I love how this film tried to get everything, every imaginable monster and creature they wanted on screen. Despite no big budget, they tried to make it all work.

Since Scream, people tried to make movies like this but they always ended up usually mocking the genre. Here, Whedon and Goddard work is a loving tribute of a genre they adore. And it shows!

They did some Buffy episodes where they tried to tackle a similar subversion of the genre, but they never managed to do it properly.

There's a lot of meta references and inspirations from H.P. Lovecraft to Sam Raimi's Evil Dead.

I love how they even managed to have Sigourney Weaver in here (for a small part, but an important one). The cellar is full or horror icon references, the scientists mention a tons of classic allusions (Re-Animator's reanimated bodies, Deadites, Hellriser...). There are some great creature designs and kills. With humor!

Why do people find watching kids get slaughtered so fun? Isn't the destruction of new generations/the youth considered an awful thing?

Is it a perverse sense of fun we get from the killing of "our future"?

Cabin in the Woods holds a lot of secret, even worth watching on later viewings, but it doesn't give much answers as it ask more questions. Playing with old clichés of the genre and the formulaic structure horror flicks have known since the 1980s.

It builds up towards a great finale promised by little segments that cuts the main story through the film.

The surprise can be said to be the principal trait of Cabin, but on second watch all things get much more clear.

Our protagonists get typecast and forced to play those roles. And it all ends up on such an epic-scale ending!

It's a fan loving tribute of the old horror genre, a parody of its tropes all rolled in one fun departure from teen slasher films.

The way it was all subverted and tried to connect every possible horror monster kind of reminded me of the Hack/Slash comic book series, but homages to cult classics.

In a way, Cabin in the Woods even allows new interpretations why Jason Voorhees or Freddy Krueger act on their killing spree, almost giving their kind a greater sense of purpose.

Lots of great physical make-up and animatronics were used on Cabin, amongst the regular CGi you expect from movies nowadays.

The film proved to be a huge success and went on winning several awards, which goes to show studios have no idea what's good for them those days. It's ironic for such a small film studios weren't much enthusiast about to begin with.

Overall, I truly adore Cabin in the Woods and recommend it to any fan of good old slash/horror films of old.

It's a fun satirical look at the genre, a love letter to it and a great meta-play the rules of slashers.

It leaves you with some few good questions. Plus it's simply such a fun flick!

There's a lot of goofy/teen parodies that keep coming out... but so few smart respectful looks at the genre. A must have for any fan or newcomer alike! We've seen so many group of teenagers get killed in cabin in the woods in the past decades on film without asking why or how. Cabin in the Woods is proud to analyze and play with the idea, and still have the guts to pull the kills.

I give it:
3 / 3 Necronomicons!

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