Five college students, a creepy cabin in the middle of no where, and verse in latin read aloud from an old diary found in the cellar. You think you’ve seen this movie a thousand times, but the truth is Cabin in the Woods is nothing you’ve ever seen before.
Yes, the plot tells the tale of stereotypical characters meeting a gruesome end in the woods. But instead of the supernatural or nightmarish playing the part of the villain, it’s a multi-national corporation manipulating every aspect and action for an unknown client. A pheromone pumped through the A/C convinces the group to split up and a electric shock causes the girl to drop a knife that could save her later. It’s this artificial and purposeful horror that may be more terrifying than a ghost in the attic.
Cabin in the Woods may not be a horror movie at all. Yes, there are scares and blood and a zombified knife-wielding pioneer family, but that’s not the movie, that’s just the set up. This film, co-written by Drew Goddard and Joss Whedon, is more of a collage and commentary on the horror movies we love and why audiences keep finding so much pleasure in watching others suffer.
Taking on a whole genre and simultaneously mastering it, flipping it and critiquing it is a daunting task that could easily fail. But, what works so brilliantly in this movie is that it doesn’t sit too heavy and the dark satire of our “treating violence like sport and entertainment” world threads its way seamlessly into a fun romp of a horror movie.
This movie is simultaneously hilarious, scary, gory and thrilling, which is both its strength and weakness. Goddard and Whedon are able to string together all the aspects that people love in the horror genre, from the witty stoner to the chopped off limbs to the conspiracy theories about modern society into an enjoyable experience. However, the constant switch in tone from comedy to horror which starts just in the opening credits feels almost chaotic, and it can difficult to decipher how you should react to what happens on-screen.
In addition to bi-polar tone, for a movie entitled Cabin in the Woods there were far too few scares. The set-up that the audience knows all that happens is man-made and pre-determined takes away a lot of the “what will happen next?” and “don’t go down there, oh god what’s down there?” tension that fills most scary movies. While there were a few jumps along the way, a handful more of fist clenching the arm-rest moments would have been nice.
While there are moments where the movie tries too hard to play critique and moments where the horror aspects fall flat, it’s still quite fun to watch. The comedy keeps the tone from getting overly serious while the scares that do occur are strong and well-timed. You think you know what will happen next to these kids as they try to stay alive and figure out why this is all occurring, but as expected from a Lost writer, you don’t have a clue.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Isa Jones at Alexandra.firstname.lastname@example.org.