Cabin in the Woods
At face value, Cabin In The Woods seems like your run of the mill horror film. All the cliches are there. There’s five stereotypical college students taking a much needed vacation in a remote area. There’s a mysterious book that summons said college students’ imminent death. There’s a “redneck, zombie torture family.” Even the name of the movie points in the direction of a generally dissatisfying slasher film. But what we, the viewer, don’t know is these horror tropes are being set up for a reason. Warning: plot spoilers to follow.
These five unfortunate souls are actually part of a ritual set up to appease ancient gods below the earth’s surface so they do not rise and take over the world. Hard to digest, I know, but the plot is so cleverly written that it seems very plausible by movies end. As part of the ritual, there needs to be five young people, each embodying a certain stereotype. There’s the jock and the whore, who are actually of the highest level of education, the scholar, who plays football, the fool, who’s the smartest of the bunch, and the virgin, who’s had sex. Each of the five characters have been drugged to embrace their individual cliches. For example, the team of people monitoring the group to make sure everything goes according to plan drug the whore’s hair dye and the fools marijuana stash.
Speaking of the research team, they provide some of the most laugh out loud moments of the movie. While aware of the dire act they must commit, they know it must be done and have looked to multiple ways to squash the tension of the situation. Examples of this are them having a party, full of drinking and carousing, when they feel the ritual has been completed as well as setting up a betting pool to see which monster the group of kids will pick.
That’s another extremely interesting, as well as disturbing, plot point. There is a basement in the cabin full of trinkets that trigger different monsters that will come and kill whoever resides within. A diary summons the Buckners, a.k.a. the redneck, zombie tortue family, a music box summons a ballerina with teeth for a face and so forth. There’s even a conch that summons a merman! Without giving too much away, these monster’s all make an appearance near the end of the move, and it proves to be one of the most haunting and jaw dropping moments in recent memory.
While Cabin In The Woods serves as a great and entertaining movie, what is really interesting about it is how it thoroughly deconstructs the horror genre. Using the ancient gods as a metaphor for how increasingly judgmental and demanding the horror audience has become, the people organizing the ritual present every cliche in the book to appease them. And when the fool and the virgin figure out what’s going on, all hell breaks loose.
While not being for everyone, the way this movie tackles horror is something to marvel at. And if you’re someone that enjoys a fine mix of horror, comedy, action and metta examinations of source material, Cabin In The Woods is most certainly the movie for you.
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