THE CABIN IN THE WOODS is a difficult movie to review, if you’re not a fan of spoilers. So in fairness, I will only be writing about the film in relation to the trailer and my overall reaction as I walked out of the theater.
This is one of the sharpest horror films that I’ve seen in a long time. I wasn’t surprised though. The duo of writer Drew Goddard (CLOVERFIELD) and producer Joss Whedon (BUFFY, ANGEL, FIREFLY) know their stuff. One of the reasons I dislike the horror genre is because the tropes are so predictable. While I’m not the person screaming “Don’t go in the room, blonde high school virgin!”, I am absolutely rolling my eyes at her impending doom. CABIN IN THE WOODS takes all of the historical teen slasher aesthetics/rules and manipulates them in a way that the viewer is in on the killer’s master plan too. Heck, even the title of the film is a reference to the backdrop for so many films in the horror genre. I don’t know about you but I stay away from cabins of any kinds, condemned homes/buildings, graveyards and of course, hitchhikers. It’s just common sense.
I’ve been following CABIN IN THE WOODS since I missed it at SXSW and I wasn’t surprised for a second at all of the mixed reviews. I was happy that at least people weren’t flocking to the internet with spoilers. There’s a special circle in hell for people who spoil movies. Anyway, back to the critic/audience reviews. On one hand, folks were saying that it was a “gamechanger” (as the poster above boasts). Others were so quick to jump on the hype bandwagon, claiming that it was just another interesting take on the horror genre. I remember the same debate over CLOVERFIELD, also by Drew Goddard. Was it a revolutionary piece of cinema or just Coke with Lime? One counterpoint that I will make in favor of Team Hype is that both CLOVERFIELD and CABIN reveal the mysterious monster gradually in a real journey. The death and gore aren’t meaningless gimmicks, but to ask who the real monster is. I think that’s what great horror is. We’re in need of more horror films with depth, genre-bending and self-reflexivity to scare us, just like it used to scare our parents (cue original DAWN OF THE DEAD).
The only thing that I can even allow myself to share about the ending is that the final act is something else. Twist after twist after twist, my friends. I’m not talking cheesy “Scooby Doo” mystery endings or “Scary Movie” franchise frat boy comedy. All I will say is that I saw the ending as a metaphor for the new generation of millennials today. Our lack of purpose and deferred adulthood might ultimately be the downfall of more than just ourselves. Perhaps I’m reading too much and if so, I blame the film degree and being in my early 20’s. I highly suggest this film to anyone looking to venture outside of their non-horror genre comfort zone. Joss is boss, after all.