Sunday, April 28, 2013

The Cabin in the Woods (2012)

You think you know the story.

Director:  Drew Goddard (his directorial debut)
Writers:  Joss Whedon, Drew Goddard

Running Time:  95 mins
Budget:  $30 million
Box Office:  over $60 million

If you hear a strange sound outside… have sex.
If an old man warns you not to go there… make fun of him.
Quaint abandoned property… sold.

I really haven’t seen any trailers, reviews, comments (other than that this movie is a must-see) prior to watching this film, so all I know is that there is a cabin involved and 5 friends are spending their weekend there. Sounds familiar right? After watching The Evil Dead, and Cabin Fever just several months ago, I wasn't expecting anything new. But since it's Joss Whedon/Drew Goddard, I didn't care if I'll be watching a formulaic movie with either a chainsaw-wielding psychopath or deadites-like paranormal monsters as villains. 

The first few minutes into the film I was like, “uh-oh, crappy film alert!" Typical modern horror B-movies - bad acting, stereotypical characters, same plot, cheesy dialogues. The Scooby Gang without Scooby Doo. 

Then came the next scene, and for a second I seriously thought there was something wrong with the file I downloaded. I thought I was suddenly watching an entirely different movie. But as the scenes unfolded, and as realization dawns on me that it is in fact the real movie, I was starting to get interested & mystified. In fact, I just realized that I was really seeing Whedon in this film. So I trusted the guy who brought Buffy in this universe, and even though I still wasn't sold on the confusing concept of the movie, I decided to just chill and watch the film.


What a satisfying experience. I really think that this movie is awesome! It’s one of those rare films that are unique and so entertaining and deliciously tickles both your intellect and senses. I have been a fan of Whedon because of Buffy The Vampire Slayer and after seeing this, I probably will be for a long time.

What makes this movie great is that it is both a parody/satire and also a serious horror movie with a smart and unique concept. The point of all the hackneyed concepts & monsters you see is because IT IS THE HORROR GENRE ITSELF. Every cliche, every monsters, plotlines, stereotypical characters, twists, everything - it’s all about the horror genre that we have been seeing since the beginning of time.


We see 5 stereotypes: In this movie we see that they really aren’t stereotypes, but just manipulated by the mysterious “company” to make it seem like the obvious typical characters horror audiences look for. Why such formulaic characters? Because that’s what sells. Why do u think there is such a clutter of horror movies with formulaic stories and stereotypical characters? It’s what the general audience go to see.

When the characters (who are apparently smarter than the stereotypes they were “assigned” to become) make a smart decision, then the “puppeteers” behind the screen manipulates the game and make them act stupid - it's really funny. Like when The Jock say that they should all stick together - then the puppeteer works its magic - and bham, Jock says it’s better if they split up, and they all agree (except for The Fool. Which is ironic because he is actually the one who makes sense. I think he represents the people, who when watching horror movies, shout expletives at characters who split up). It’s hilarious, because that is true to almost all horror movies. Characters do split up. And for what? So that the audience will get what they bought their tickets for — gruesome murders, bloodshed, screaming protagonists getting dismembered ONE BY ONE. "If something is chasing you… split up."

We see all the monsters ever conceived in the history of horror movies, (people say they were annoyed to see them “copied” in this movie) — like I said, this movie is about horror movies. What are horror movies without zombies, Sadako (Japanese ghost girl), serial killers in masks, monsters, anacondas, even that harmless-looking guy named Kevin who turns out to be a psychopathic killer?Isn’t it interesting to imagine that the horror movies we watch are actually snuff films? Real monsters that come from a “factory", and that the “actors” are really people choosing their monsters unknowingly and eventually their demise. That’s what makes this movie unique. It’s not just one horror story. It’s the root of all horror movies.

The climax is awesome, not only because of its originality, but because this is where you really digest the essence of what the director/writer wants to say. Those tech guys you saw, everyone in the company, including The Director (played by Sigourney Weaver - which merits another “AWESOME” in my book. I recall reading a comment saying something like “could they even cast someone more unrecognizable as Sigourney Weaver??”… (I can only shake my head in silent laughter) — sorry, as I was saying, those people are none other than the movie industry, doing every cheap tricks, machinations, manipulations, just to satiate the audience’s hunger for gore and screams. When The Director said they only have 8 minutes until the wrath of the ancient gods will consume them all, the film really only has 8 minutes left before the credits.

The Characters are who we usually see in horror movies are the victims, the sacrifices - like lambs being slain for rituals — because it’s what the gods want.

Finally, the ancient gods who thirst and hungers for these human sacrifices & their blood — it’s us, the insatiable, overly critical & analytical AUDIENCE.

You ask “why THE JOCK, THE FOOL, THE NERD, THE WHORE, THE VIRGIN?” Well, why don't you ask the people who unfailingly watch the hundreds of movies with these exact same stereotypes?

“Why such a lame-ass ancient hand god?” For me, it's what it symbolizes that's important. The Audience. HUMANS. 
The minute the hand surfaced, the world ends (the movie ends) because that’s the time when the gods come back (audience finally get to say what they want).


Plus it’s another tribute to the horror genre, where most popular horror movies have hands coming out from the earth. It’s really all about horror movies.

MY RATING: 4/5 - One of the smartest & very satisfying Hollywood movies I have seen in recent years.

“We did all the same things. We did every single one of the same things that we could do but wrapping it around our own movie. Girl dancing in undies…pretty much a ‘same thing.’” - Joss Whedon

“This tone, especially with this movie, five degrees to the left, we’re in exploitation territory. Five degrees to the right, we’re a broad comedy.” - Drew Goddard

P.S. just saw a review, and this basically says it all (in a much precise, straight to the point way)

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  1. Your review is written excellently!!! I found this film a bit disturbing and not a good feel for my taste.... But I must say, the story-line was an excellent idea, and a step beyond the beaten path of usual horror flicks!!! Great job on the review!!!

    1. I really think this movie will gain cult status in the years to come. Misunderstood, underrated - is what it is. To those saying it's overrated, all I can say is, I haven't seen any movie before this that has handled the satire & deconstruction of the ENTIRE horror genre as magnificently as Whedon/Goddard has. Scream may have been effective, but it's mainly a satire of teen slasher flicks. This one is genius.

  2. I re-read your review. I saw that your description was more than accurate of the TRUE meaning of the films purpose to get across to the audience the message it was sending out..I suppose some did not marinate the true sense of the meaning.. As Evil dead and Rocky Horror retained their cult followings, I am sure this film will be vaulted securely in future horror films for what it represents, which s delightfully explained excellently by you.



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