The 2012 film The Cabin in the Woods was actually far more interesting than I was anticipating when I finally caved to watching it after endless Netflix recommendations. I assumed it would be the typical horror genre cliché, of which I’ve had more than my fill. It turns out that it was exactly that… but it was the absolute best kind of horror genre gore and goofy schlock! As it turns out, the movie’s tagline of “You think you know the story,” is actually quite appropriate.
When reviewing a horror flick it should go without saying that the entire genre isn’t for everyone; if you’ve hated every horror film you’ve ever seen, then you’ll hate this movie. And if you hate gore, cliché, fantasy, monsters, yadda yadda yadda, then you’ll hate this movie.
But if you’ve ever felt a twinge of guilty pleasure watching something like Friday the 13th or a ludicrous zombie flick, this is the movie for you.
It was the absolute best kind of horror genre gore and goofy schlock!
For starters, there are some high-profile folks involved. On screen you’ll find folks like Chris Hemsworth (AKA: Thor), and Kristen Connolly (AKA Christina Gallagher, in the Netflix series House of Cards). The film is a product of the mind of Joss Whedon, the man behind hits and cultural phenomena like Lost, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Firefly, and many others (heck, IMDB credits him with the screenplay for Toy Story, for goodness’ sake!).
And Whedon’s influence is readily apparent. The film starts with the uber-cliché group of attractive young people taking off for a remote cabin in the woods (off the communications grid, of course), and encountering your stereotypical crazy and foreshadowing redneck gas station attendant along the way. It was so incredibly cliché, in fact, that I was almost starting to get offended. But this is clearly by design: Whedon is intentionally starting with a carbon copy of your run-of-the-mill horror stereotype so that he can offer an alternative ending.
If you’ve ever felt a twinge of guilty pleasure watching something like Friday the 13th or a ludicrous zombie flick, this is the movie for you.
By the end of the film, he has taken this horror movie standard to an entirely different destination than the audience could have expected. What you wind up getting is something I’d describe as a fusion of classic horror schlock, The Hunger Games/Battle Royale, Dead Snow, and Lost. And honestly, it’s pretty satisfying.
Chock-full of spill-your-popcorn moments, there is also plenty of goofiness to keep things light-hearted even as limbs and gore fly (my favorite line: “Good work, zombie arm”). And while the film is clearly trying to be more than just horror schlock, it readily embraces it, and doesn’t pretend to be anything better; just different.
I wouldn’t call any part of the film original or revolutionary — not by any stretch of the imagination. But I would call it entertaining, and what more can you really ask of a horror flick?