‘The Cabin in the Woods’ Review

 

Thanks to Amazon’s Instant View, I was finally able to see ‘The Cabin in the Woods’, one of my most anticipated horror movies of recent memory. Seeming to come from nowhere and making a huge critical splash, ‘Cabin’ looked and sounded to be the breath of fresh air that the genre needed. But does it truly live up to expectations and is this a game-changer in the horror world?

The answer is:

No. Not in a bad way but still; no.

If you have yet to see the film, I’ll give you the pedestrian rundown. If you have been lucky enough to keep a virginal eye as to what transpires in this film, then do yourself a favor and come back and read this later. This is definitely a movie you want to see knowing as little as possible about it. With that said here is the basic plot. A group of 5 plucky young teenagers are off to a vacation at a cabin in the woods. There is the jock, the nerd, the whore, the virgin, and the stoner. Before they know it they are being hunted down by an undead horde of unstoppable yada yada yada. Who will survive and what will be left of them?

Sound like something you’ve seen a hundred times before? Well, ‘The Cabin in the Woods’ has more than a rotting Henrietta in its root cellar. If you are a fan of the genre or have become bored with the paint by numbers quality of so many of these types of films, then you are going to be really in for a treat with this movie.

Now. Go ahead and go watch the movie. Then come on back and finish this up with me ok?

Alright, we are heading into Spoiler Country now. There are bats here, giant ones.

See ya!

 

 

 

Now that you are back or still going (since you watched the movie already and didn’t just heed the warnings), let’s talk a bit about what works and what doesn’t work in this film.

What Works:

 

The Plot: What on the surface starts out as your typical slasher/monster movie; soon transitions into something completely different. We see that there is an underground network of specialists, an almost religious sect, of people who are following ancient instructions of sacrifice to keep the Old Gods at bay in their slumber. We learn that all horror movies are more than just what they appear to be. There is a science to it, a code and rules set to ensure that the creatures below do not awaken to rule this world once more.  Not only is this a fresh and interesting concept, it also is handled exactly right.

What could have been a hokey reveal in the final frames, is actually established throughout the film so when the ‘big speech’ comes toward the last few minutes, it is not some huge surprise. I love how many little nods are thrown into fans of the genre. Like how the setting is almost an arena filled with traps and surprises. The film shows us why these characters act the way they do in horror films, how the harbinger of their demise is chosen, and why the order for death is imperative to the grand scheme. This part of the film is awesome. In a time that so many films are derivative of thousands of other films, it is quite nice to see such a new spin on not just type of film, but the why of it.

While the idea is really smart and a whole lot of fun, it also doesn’t change what has come before or it or what will come after. The film is just a fun ride that really pays off to those who have seen the modeled incarnations countless times before. The characters, due to outside influence, hit the note for note path of their fictional fallen brethren, but it is really cool to have a movie that tells us exactly why they end up that way.

The Monsters: If you love monsters or slashers like I do, your favorite part of most of these types of movies, is seeing those monsters going crazy, and man this movie does not disappoint in that aspect. What should eventually become a famous scene would be ‘The Elevator Scene’ and its subsequent aftermath. I felt like a kid watching these scenes and seeing the countless monsters just going to town. I’d love to go through frame by frame to see what all I missed. But it is definitely a Who’s Who of the horror world, a compilation of nightmares all in one place at one time, Convention Hall C at the Ramada Inn.  

The Characters: Not only are the ‘victims’ interesting and fun and genre-bending, there are also a lot of people to like behind the curtain. It is great to see such familiar territory and have it feel as new as it does in this film.

The Final Shot: If there is anything bad to be said about that last few frames, it is that I wish it would have kept going.

 

What Doesn’t Work:

 

The Actual Horror: Though a lot of fun and certainly still brimming with blood, the one downside to the film is that it is never truly scary. With the semi reveal early on it is hard to be really scared by anything that comes after. The Meta makes the kills feel calculated (which in part is intentional) and if you’ve seen more than a few of this type of horror film, you will know each kill or jump scare before they happen.

But then again for those of us who have seen these movies multiple times, that is not really why we watch them in the first place. There isn’t the dread or seriousness of ‘The Shining’ or ‘Audition’. This is the rollercoaster, the haunted hay ride, the funhouse. It is that controlled environment that even though we know what is coming we still look forward to the ups and downs and the scream from the darkness.  Despite the setting or the ghoul, you know what to expect, but you just hope to get your heart racing just a little faster.

 

Worth a Watch?

Most definitely. If you are a fan of this type of film, you are going to find a whole lot to love in here, and more than enough you might miss to return back to that cabin a few times over.

Oh and Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn!

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19 thoughts on “‘The Cabin in the Woods’ Review

  1. I would give the Movie “A” if they didn’t stretch the plausibility of the Stoner” guy being still alive at the end for the last sacrifice…(defintely a spoiler to anyone reads this..sorry) But that part seemed to go along with all horror movies in that sense for trying to pull one over on the fans…( I would have like it if the writers would let the fans in on that part but not the operators back at Ground Zero running the show..now that would have been better…) btw the make out scene with the wolf….disturbing for sure…then again I wish I had been the wolf :).. …and yes I love the elevator scene….classic in the making for sure…(plus I did love the iron of the mer-man) I would also classify this as a Horror Comedy…it seems a lot of movies made lately are going in that direction.. Zombieland, Tucker and Dale vs Evil, Sean of the Dead, etc….They should invent a new classification on Netflix and at other stores when picking out a movie…. Great Review..thanks for the memories..

    • Phillip- the wolf make out scene, probably the most disturbing part of the film! She really got all up in there haha!
      Have you seen Behind the Mask: Rise of Lesie Vernon yet? That’s my favorite of the new meta horror-comedies. I liked Tucker and Dale, not as much as the rest of the internet seems to, but I think the trailer spoiled the movie. The never should have showed what Tucker and Dale were really like. That would of been an awesome surprise

  2. I enjoyed it, sure. But as you point out, it never actually IS scary. I wind up having a bit of an issue with Horror comedies… They usually just wind up being COMEDIES, but then people lump them in with Horror.

    I would have a trouble classifying this movie, and… it kind of works against it for me. I feel like the tone is uneven.

    But I liked it, I did enjoy it. Its just when it came out, the blogosphere built an altar to it, and I didnt want to join in on any of that…

    Good write up!

    • EXACTLY Fogs! I think it is the hardest sub-genre to pull off. It’s either scary and not really funny. Or it’s funny and not scary. I think Evil Dead 2 and Creepshow are the two best examples of this that actually get it right. It really is a fine line to walk.

      I really enjoyed Cabin in the Woods, but like you, I don’t think it is the be all-end all. It’s a fun movie, but no holy grail of horror.

  3. I love horror but not fond of slasher films. So I skipped the warning and read ahead. Your write up sounded interesting and I think I’ll take a look at it now. Maybe tomorrow night. Tonight is game night or I would be watching it after work.

  4. Great work! I loved this movie and can’t wait to see it again! That “jumping the ravine” scene was epic IMO. “You’ll have to give it everything you’ve got..” “I always do…”

    • Thanks man! I loved that part too. The funniest part for me was the ‘Am I still on speakerphone?’ bit.

    • I had to buy it on Amazon instant. 14 bucks, but worth. Just think of it as the price of going to the theater and a small popcorn haha

  5. You know, I really didn’t ‘get’ this film. I have been trying to write my review for about 2 weeks, just cant seem to finish it. I flick between loving it and hating it……….I think I need to see it again. Regardless, your write up of it is superb as always dude 🙂

    • Thanks Tyson. I could definitely understand that feeling. I’m not a Whedon fan-boy, I mean I’ve never even seen Firefly/Serenity. Did you know any spoilers before you saw it or did you go in fresh?

      • Went in knowing nothing. I kind of felt it would of been better with the experiment reveal being later on, but thats just me. I liked the cameo at the end but really didnt like the motive and ending. Meh, my review will get one day and Ill show off my full feelings!

  6. I agree with you in that it’s not really a horror movie. It’s kind of the same thing with a movie like Shaun of the Dead – I’d have a hard time calling that one a horror movie too.

  7. Your comparison of this movie to a funhouse is the most accurate analogy one could use. I thought that it did a pretty good job being a horror comedy because there were parts that were shocking and scary and others that were laugh out loud funny with good spacing in between. I skipped this movie in theaters because it looked so average, but I decided to rent it after a coworker at Dish recommended it as being a smart movie. I added it to my Blockbuster @Home queue online, and it came in the mail yesterday. I was so surprised by what I got, and it instantly became one of my favorite movies released this year. The writing is genius, the performances are great, and the cinematography is beautiful. I love renting what I think is a B movie and having it turn out to be something great. I think that that is even the feeling that they were trying to give with this movie, so if you haven’t seen it go out and get it now!

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