On the twelfth day of Halloween, some horror tropes gave to me: Cabin in the Woods (Drew Goddard, 2012)
This movie serves two wonderful purposes:
1.It’s a crowd pleaser. I’ve watched this movie with vastly different groups of people (film nerds, sorority girls, my 50-something parents) and it’s a hit every time.
- It’s a deadly drinking game. But more on that later.
A plot, handcrafted for you:
Five nubile college kids take a weekend off to visit the titular “cabin in the woods” and engage in some good ole’ fashioned debauchery. However, not all is as it seems: a “mysterious breeze” throws open the door to a basement, in which the crew discovers a slew of strange objects. Naïve Dana (Kristen Connolly) reads from an old diary, which seems to details the exploits of a frontier family that engaged in some rather cannibalistic practices. Thinking nothing of it, the group continues with their revels. Things quickly go to hell in a handbasket as some rather bitey pioneer corpses begin to attack the group, forcing them to scramble to understand what’s happening. As the night progresses, it becomes clear to the group that this isn’t a random incident: they’re being watched.
I saw this movie senior year, in the theater right by my high school. My other film friend and I has been waiting for this movie with bated breath for months, and bought our tickets with glee. We were maybe two of like, six people in the theater, but it didn’t dampen our spirits at all.
Cabin in the Woods was like manna from heaven to two young film kids. It’s a fresh, off-kilter love letter to the horror genre, all done with a dark sense of humor. Cabin in the Woods digs deep into the genre it is a part of, and goes beyond “subverting” tropes to actually explaining them.
This is a movie about movies
Remember how I said this movie also functions as a drinking game? Should you be so inclined, try taking a sip every time you see a reference to another horror movie in Cabin in the Woods. Your goose will be cooked very quickly. This is a movie made by horror fans for horror fans, and is replete with nods to and jabs at countless genre classics.
Cabin in the Woods is a total deconstruction of the horror genre and all of the “rules of the game” that have been established over the years. I’m going to avoid spoilers, but it suffices to say that Cabin in the Woods creates a world that “explains” why certain horror scenarios progress as they do. While it’s not “realistic” and sometimes the plot feels a little stretched, the premise behind what happens in Cabin in the Woods is both inventive and dark.
It imagines a world far more expansive and dangerous than most other films would dare, and combines modern technological capabilities with a Lovecraftian vision of Earth. It’s just as ballsy as it sounds, but it manages to work pretty well.
All that aside, you certainly do not have to be a horror diehard to enjoy this movie. Most people are aware enough of horror stereotypes to get what Cabin in the Woods is trying to do, and are into it. The little references are just sprinkles on top of the frosting for horror kids. Also, Chris Hemsworth AND Jesse Williams are in it, so like, even more sprinkles.
Of course, Cabin in the Woods is on my list of horror-comedies, so I would be remiss not to discuss where it sits on the spectrum. I personally finds that this movie leans more towards horror than it does comedy, which is pretty rare. In most horror comedies it’s merely the setup that makes it “horror”, when the film itself isn’t entirely scary. Cabin in the Woods definitely brings the scares, and is pretty damn gory. The characters in Cabin in the Woods go through the ringer and are intentionally made to suffer in some pretty grody ways. They’re all genuinely likeable as well, so it makes watching them go through hell all the harder.
But this movie is fucking hilarious, don’t get me wrong. The “stoner” character Marty (Fran Kranz) has some brilliant one liners and a dry delivery that lands every time. In addition, a lot of the film’s humor is derived from the tropes/references the film is exploiting, so genre fans will get an extra giggle out of this movie.
There’s also an extendable coffee travel mug bong, so take that as you will.
Tl dr; Cabin in the Woods is an irreverent, imaginative take on a very traditional horror set up that will please genre fans and non-fans alike. So hey, give it a watch.
Featured image source: http://collider.com/cabin-in-the-woods-teaser-poster/