The Cabin in the Woods (2011) (R)

There are a few reasons that “The Cabin in the Woods” works. For one thing, the horror movies and the remakes and the spoofs that have been predecessors to this film had to have been  already made. The horror franchise, where it is today, had to have been in place with all its cliches and all its flaws for “Cabin” to work. The result of the years of movie making and then this film is remarkably entertaining.
There are also a few reasons that “The Cabin in the Woods” does not work. I have yet to be impressed with a recent horror movie’s third act wrap-up and “Cabin” is no exception. “Insidious” seems like the perfect example to showcase this. There is great intuitive thinking about what could make this movie effective and creepy. That part works. Then it seems like the writers trap themselves in a corner, not sure what to do with the plot. That has rarely been escaped, only a few times in recent years and by films that don’t seem to fit the typical “horror” genre: for example “Shaun of the Dead” and “Zombieland.”
Stereotypical from the beginning—a group of good-looking teenagers voyage deep into the woods for a weekend filled with drinking, drugs, and sex. Raise your hand if you haven’t seen this in a horror movie before. But what sets “Cabin” apart is the fact that it seems to acknowledge its stereotypical-ness. Yes, they’ve all done it before but there are a few devices that are interlaced within the teen’s story to give the movie genuine interest.
It’s not all clear from the beginning, which I like. It takes a solid thirty minutes to get an idea of what’s going on and for that, the movie is original.
Although it tries to steer clear of some of the common mistakes of its genre by embracing them (if that makes any sense), it does not always succeed. There are cheesy moments when characters are running and they stop to get a close-up and ask a stupid question. I don’t know about you but I can ask a stupid question and run at the same time.
Well, the movie’s not perfect. No body said it was. But it is intriguing. A giant step in the right direction as far as original horror movies go. 
After years of making original horror movies, the industry has left film makers with not much to go on to make new and exciting. Let’s think about it, how many movies about a possession have you seen the trailer for in recent weeks? 
Joss Whedon, who launched into rich territory with his smash hit “The Avengers” wrote the screenplay for “The Cabin in the Woods”. It seems to keep show some of the freshness and quirkiness of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”, which Whedon also created. The screenplay was co-written with the director, Drew Goddard, who seems to have more of a handle on the horror aspect of the movie. Chris Hemsworth was one of the few actors that I recognized in this movie and it was nice to see him out of his Thor costume—in something a little more down-to-earth as it were. That being said, it’s not great character acting, but that’s not what the film demands. 
The rest of the cast seems filled out by typical horror movie people—the nice girl, the blonde, the stoner, and the nerd who’s secretly a jock. Okay, maybe it’s not that cliche but it’s close. What’s interesting about “Cabin” is all these characters feel new. The cast and writing is good enough to pull off the tried and true characters with a freshness that I wasn’t anticipating. 
As far as genuine frights go, this film is lacking in them. My nerves aren’t made of steel and I am first to admit that scary movies can get to me sometimes, but this wasn’t one of them. It wasn’t strictly terrifying or even remotely chilling; but, as I said before, it was entertaining.
I think that Whedon and Goddard should have given it a little more time to think about how they should have wrapped the movie up, but all-in-all I was satisfied.

Score: 3 out of 4 stars


  1. "Although it tries to steer clear of some of the common mistakes of its genre by embracing them (if that makes any sense), it does not always succeed..." I'm not sure if I totally agree with that. Like you said earlier, this movie keeps it all with intentions and purpose of being cheesy. There were also things I know that most won't catch that were SUPER cheesy, and if they aren't caught they just seem random.

    I adored the film, and enjoyed it for what it was suppose to be. I think this is something for people that are more familiar with the "horror genre" and along those lines to enjoy.

    Spoiler Alert:
    .ysuol si gnidne ehT

  2. Well I can see what you're saying but what I'm referring to is the fact that they built this great spoof-of-itself movie and then had moments that detracted from that. Much like the stop and ask a question while running. When the momentum is building and things are supposed to be genuinely frightening, for me it cut the momentum off.

    But I'm glad that you liked it.