You know how upsetting it is to see horror movies and sci-fi/fantasy movies combined into one place? Things like Nightmare on Elm Street and Friday the 13th sharing space with Star Trek and Logan’s Run! By and large, these movies have nothing to do with each other. Sure, you have the occasional genre hopper (Predator, Alien) but for the most part, these genres are not the bastardized conglomeration that retailers want them to be. That is, until Cabin in the Woods.
To limit this film to any one genre would be missing the grander picture of everything that this film has to offer. To call it science fiction would feel as though one were cheapening the suspense of our protagonists. To call it horror would merely scrape the depth of the bigger picture of what is going on. And to call it parody/homage to either would run the risk of comparing it to failed comedies such as Disaster Movie and Epic Movie. Cabin in the Woods blazes its own trail, while simultaneously honoring those that came before.
There is something for every moviegoer. At virtually every scene, there is at least one moment of, “this is just like that one movie,” although it never loses its own originality. Even though it clearly gives great praise to its predecessors, it never feels stale or dated. By incorporating the works of Craven, Carpenter, Raimi and others simultaneously, Cabin in the Woods is a perfect amalgamation of so many different styles and tones.
The dialogue in this film is perhaps the most humanized on the screen. There are so few moments or speeches made that don’t feel completely natural amongst everyone. This should come as no surprise given that it was written by Buffy the Vampire Slayer creators Joss Whedon and Goddard, true masters of banter. When one suggests they split up, another looks up and says, “really?” When the teens begin to explore the basement of the troubled cabin, examining different trinkets of varying origins, it is suggested that they stop messing with things they don’t really understand. There are actually are characters that scream, “look out behind you!”
The characters are all lovable; even the antagonists have a place of humbled remembrance as the story’s plot begins to deepen. Our heroes and heroines dive deeper into the rabbit hole, only wishing that they had never gone there in the first place. Even characters that don’t have a larger role in the movie, such as Tim De Zarn as Mortecai, the stereotypical gas station worker who warns the teens to not venture to that troubled cabin. Or Truman, the humanized security guard who never fully surrenders his humanity regardless of what is going on around him.
It may start out like any other horror movie; five friends go off into the woods to a friend’s cousin’s cabin where they stay the weekend to – what else – get drunk and party. Each of the classic clichés are represented; the wise fool, the virgin, the whore, the jock and the intellectual, and of course they’re all best friends. Then they get to the cabin, and come to find out something is awry. However, at that moment, it stops being an Eli Roth recycle-trash-repeat and becomes its own monster. Kristen Connolly does a great job of unraveling the secrets of the film while simultaneously garnering the respect of the audience as you root for her the entire way.
This was an amazing movie that will give something different to anyone who respects and enjoys cinema. The writing is brilliant, the scenes are beautiful and natural, the dialogue is completely entertaining and the characters are the most real seen in any movie in a long time. It was great all around, and should be seen by anyone who grew up with Wes Craven, John Carpenter and the like.
There is a very fine line between losing your audience with a constant state of tone changes and keeping your audience on its toes with natural albeit drastic shifts in tone and mood, and Cabin in the Woods does an excellent job of keeping the people intellectually stimulated, kept in suspense, and anxiously awaiting the exposition.