May 14, 2012

[Movies] The Cabin in the Woods (2012)

When we first heard about The Cabin in the Woods, all we knew was that it was supposed to be some sort of a horror movie and that Joss Whedon was involved as producer and writer. And while some might argue that Joss Whedon's career is somewhat tainted given how his TV projects almost inevitably get killed time and time again by the TV networks, he still has quite the fan following among geek circles.

Once the movie was released in the US, even more buzz started to come out and it was clear that the movie was more than just your run-of-the-mill horror flick. Plus when you'd ask people what made the movie so great and what everyone was so excited about, they'd suspiciously keep quiet and avoid discussing it entirely.

The kind of behavior felt a lot like how things were when The Sixth Sense came out and everyone was determined to enjoy the movie without giving away spoilers. A lot of the fun of that movie was in the reveal and I think there was similar trait in this movie in comparison. It's not quite the same thing for sure - they went down completely different paths, but there's definitely the element of how things can be fun when the movie is hinged on a bit of mystery.

I don't typically like horror movies and other films that aim to scare, surprise or shock me. But this movie was definitely impressive and I'm glad that we took the time to watch it.

The Cabin in the Woods is a 2012 horror movie directed and co-written by Drew Goddard together with producer Joss Whedon. Goddard was also the screenwriter for Cloverfield.

The movie surprisingly starts with two guys in lab coats having a seemingly mundane conversation. They are in fact Richard Sitterson (Richard Jenkins) and Steve Hadley (Bradley Whitford). All we know is that they involved in some larger initiative with global reach but the details remain unclear.

We then shift to meet a group of friends preparing for some out of town trip. It seems that Curt (Chris Hemsworth) has gained access to a remote cabin via his cousin and so he's bringing his girlfriend Dana (Kristen Connolly), and other friends Jules (Anna Hutchison), Marty (Fran Kranz) and Holden (Jesse Williams). Once at the cabin, strange things start to happen, which happen to be highly reminiscent of classic horror movies including how they all seem to change in personality and lose more of their inhibitions.

The common buzz is the fact that the movie tends to be quite the meta experience given how it the movie openly cites other horror movie types and genres in the course of the action. In this regard, the movie is rather self-aware of the quirks of the genre similar to how the Scream movies helped turn the horror movie genre on its head through similar tactics. And this really adds a lot of campy fun to the movie that certainly takes things to another level.

And in typical Joss Whedon style, the movie has a great sense of humor as the characters continue to openly question some of the typical pitfalls of horror movies as they also fight for their lives. In addition to the humor, we also see the prominent involvement of a Whedon alumni in the form of Marty the stoner, as played by Fran Kranz. Kranz was also a similarly quirk character on Joss Whedon's show Dollhouse, in case you weren't paying attention.

I loved how the movie pretty much embraced the joys of horror movies ranging from the extremely scary down to the gross-out cheese fests that defined the B-movie genre. You have to pay attention throughout the movie for the full effect - there are a LOT of references to other movies for you eagle eyes in the audience.

Plus the movie is rather smart, especially given how they opted to "reveal" the technicians from the very beginning. The whole manipulating scientists element to things could have become the main reveal, but that wasn't the case at all. By having this element present from the very beginning, it becomes an even bigger challenge for the audience to figure out where things are headed, what the next steps for the characters are going to be and what the heck is going on.

The Cabin in the Woods is a fun movie, a celebration of the horror genre as a whole and a refreshing take on such movies in general. We deserve smarter movies and this is definitely a step in the right direction. Thus I rate the movie 4.5 horrors of the deep out of a possible 5, only because I felt some of the casting was a tad quirky.


  1. Ouch. Horror. Mahina ako sa mga ganyang films :(

  2. I liked it! Different take to horror flicks indeed. :)

  3. Yeah, I'm not very good with the scary stuff either, but I know there are good movies in that genre, plus Tobie really enjoys them.