It’s not often I go to a theater with the expectation of seeing a genre movie that I’m going to love. In fact, over the last five years, “straight-to-DVD” became a term I’m far more enthusiastic about. Many of my favorite movies now have never even been on the big screen nationwide. Many popular studios have simply stopped taking chances on scripts that are original or unique, and instead green light the by-the-numbers horror projects.
When news of ‘The Cabin in the Woods’ first began to spring up, I wasn’t excited. The synopsis was simply “Five friends go for a break at a remote cabin in the woods, where they get more than they bargained for. Together, they must discover the truth behind the cabin in the woods.” It was written by Joss Whedon (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) and directed by Drew Goddard (Cloverfield) so I had decided in advance that it would be a cheesy, generic movie with camera angles that would give me a headache (yeah, that’s right I hate Buffy and needed Tylenol after ‘Cloverfield’). I was very wrong.
I loved ‘The Cabin in the Woods.’ To say too much about it would risk over-hyping the movie and could potentially give away some well-guarded spoilers. Trust me that this is not the generic plot that it might initially seem. If you’ve seen the trailer then you already know that a portion of this movie doesn’t take place in a cabin, and that’s all you need to know. I strongly suggest that if you’re skeptical of giving it a chance because you’ve been burned by too many lame horror movies on the big screen, just take a two-hour vacation from your skepticism and give it a shot. Don’t keep digging for info on the movie either because you’ll end up stripping the movie of its fun-factor.
That’s an important point to make too. This movie doesn’t take itself seriously and it’s made to give the audience a good time at the movies. It has a fair amount of comedy too, but knowing that will usually scare a horror fan off. Don’t worry, the laughs aren’t of the slapstick variety but I’m sure ‘The Three Stooges’ is playing in the next room if that’s what you are in the mood for.
While keeping the details of ‘Cabin…’ quiet I’m going to admit that yes, the movie stars five generic horror roles in an equally generic setting: We have a slut, an athlete, a virgin, a pothead, and a scholar in a cabin they’ve been warned to stay away from. They get a few warnings thrown their way and like in most of these movies the signs of imminent doom and grisly deaths are ignored. Typically I can’t wait for these characters to get picked off in a horror movie but in ‘Cabin…’ I can’t say they’re the most unlikeable people. In fact, I was rooting for most of them (probably because I knew they’d get killed anyway). There is a spin to all of this.
The film opens with two white-collar workers talking about cabinetry and we’re all left wondering why. As the story unfolds the motives of these two men become clearer and the movie’s promise of being a “Rubik’s cube of horror” is gradually delivered.
I walked into ‘Cabin in the Woods’ hesitant and hoping for the best and ended up walking out with a smile on my face which says a lot. A few simple marketing tools like posters with simple statements on them such as “If an old man warns you not to go somewhere, make fun of him” and a contest for the film that could win you a collapsible bong as seen in the movie kicked my interest up a bit. Perhaps this movie wasn’t going to be an 80s/90s slasher re-hash after all. I should also note that I’m thankful the film’s poster doesn’t feature a “hot young cast” with their profiles laid across it, which usually tells me to stay away.
‘Cabin…’ is a fantastic horror entry in the theater and I can only hope that studios will keep an eye out for more concepts to get behind. Maybe then they will produce films which are different than most of what’s out there. It’s not going to spawn a new genre of horror unless it gets blatantly ripped-off, but it’s a very satisfying film with little doses of everything I like to see in a horror movie without going too far in any one direction. It gives viewers some blood and dismemberment, some laughs, a little sex, and something original to enjoy. Even among the character clichés there’s one which I found very likeable and I think you will too. Don’t expect to be just “putting up” with every cast member until their demise. It also pays homage to many classic horror movies, and usually that means you can expect recreations of scenes from other movies. Nope, there’s nobody getting stabbed in a shower here by a dude in a wig. Don’t expect me to give away the references either! You’ll have to see how they come into play for yourself. If you’re looking for a good horror/date movie or simply a fun time at the movies then quit stalling and go see ‘The Cabin in the Woods.’
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