Halloween Movie Countdown #8 – The Cabin in the Woods

#8 – The Cabin in the Woods 2011

Yes, you had “Zombies.” But this is “Zombie Redneck Torture Family.” Entirely separate thing. It’s like the difference between an elephant and an elephant seal.”

When I first started seeing trailers for The Cabin in the Woods, it initially appeared to be another brainless, run-of-the-mill slasher flick.  Not really my can of Slurm.  Of course, that was before I realized that this guy was involved.  SOLD!

The Cabin in the Woods is best experienced when viewed without any prior knowledge of the movie’s plot or premise.  Since it really isn’t possible to offer any further commentary on the movie without spoiling the whole enchilada, I strongly suggest that any uninitiated eyes that may be reading to stop doing so now.  If any of you Cabin in the Woods virgins choose to ignore this warning, my conscience is clear.

This blog posting will continue after this short intermission…..

Still here?  Alrighty then!

If you go into The Cabin in the Woods expecting merely another rehashed slasher flick where a group of dumb teenagers take a vacation to some remote location simply to be tortured/murdered/eaten by hillbillies/serial killers/zombies, you might be a little confused at how the movie actually opens.  It seems to be a completely different movie.  Two middle aged guys, Sitterson (Richard Jenkins) and Hadley (Bradley Whitford) are milling about what looks like some sort of facility that Ernst Blofeld might be plotting world domination from.  They are preparing for some sort of global operation.  Another technician enters and informs them of a problem at their sister facility in Stockholm.  Sitterson and Hadley shrug it off, assuring her that the facility in Japan will get the job done and bemoan the fact their U.S. facility always comes in second.  They board a golf cart and zoom off down a tunnel, possibly to see how close the laser is to reaching James Bond’s crotch.

Next, we get our introduction to the dumb teenagers as they prepare for their trip to, you guessed it, a cabin in the woods.  Every good slasher bait stereotype is well represented:  Jock, slutty hot chick, shy hot chick, comic-relief stoner.  They all pile into an RV and head off to their destined murders.  But in hilariously awesome fashion.  Because it turns out that what they experience at the cabin in the woods is just one scenario among many across the globe that are actually orchestrated ritual sacrifices to the “Ancient Gods” that once controlled the Earth.  The nameless organization in the beginning of the movie is responsible for conducting these sacrifices to appease them so that they don’t return, thus bringing about the end of the world.

Joss Whedon and writer, co-director Drew Goddard, came up with the inspiration for The Cabin in the Woods in response to what they felt was the devolution of the horror genre into “torture porn”.

It’s basically a very loving hate letter,” he told us.

“On some level it was completely a lark, me and Drew [Goddard, director] trying to figure out what the most fun we could have would be. On another level it’s a serious critique of what we love and what we don’t about horror movies.”

On his own genre passion, he added, “I love being scared. I love that mixture of thrill, of horror, that objectification/identification thing of wanting definitely for the people to be alright but at the same time hoping they’ll go somewhere dark and face something awful.”

And on the things he hates about lame horror, Whedon said: “The things that I don’t like are kids acting like idiots, the devolution of the horror movie into torture porn and into a long series of sadistic comeuppances. Drew and I both felt that the pendulum had swung a little too far in that direction.”

What’s really great about The Cabin in the Woods, is that it actually works really well was a horror movie in spite of its intention to lampoon the genre. There are some genuinely tense moments and scary effects, which I found sorely lacking in many of the films that Whedon and Goddard are poking fun at. It is quite an accomplishment to be more successful at achieving the same goals in jest than lesser filmmakers are in earnesty.

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