Starring Kristen Connolly, Chris Hemsworth, Anna Hutchison, Fran Kranz, Jesse Williams, Richard Jenkins, Bradley Whitford, Brian White, Amy Acker
Directed by Drew Goddard
Expectations: Moderately high. Everyone’s great reviews have coerced me into seeing this, but it’s a modern American horror film, it can’t possibly be good.
Well… that was unexpected. I have to give The Cabin in the Woods credit for trying something different, and it is interesting to see how the film unfolds, but it never pulled me in. The whole film I felt like an outsider observing someone else watching a movie, and I was constantly aware of the filmmakers and their desire for me to recognize their cleverness. Not exactly the quickest way to my heart. It’s a weird, twisting in on itself kind of film, and I understand completely why so many people enjoyed it.
With that being said: Fuck this movie. I’m tempted to leave it at that, but that wouldn’t really be of service to anyone. I was sold a bill of goods, but instead it was the old bait and switch, and I even knew some sort of bait and switch was coming! This is the epitome of a movie that should be watched cold, so if you plan to see this, run far, far away (not physically, of course) by clicking one of the many links (or ads… yeah click those!) surrounding this content.
Horror movie fans know the drill: five friends drive up to a secluded cabin in the woods and proceed to unleash some hellish force of demonic filth upon themselves. It’s tried, it’s true and it’s clichéd for a reason; it’s the perfect setup for a gory horror film. But this is not the only storyline presented in The Cabin in the Woods. Right from the opening scene, it’s clear something is amiss, and I was shocked at the blatancy of the filmmaker’s exposition. “Wow, are they really showing their hand already?” I thought. They were indeed, but obviously they were only revealing a small piece to get your wheels turnin’. I love this theoretically, it’s just that the actuality of watching it is kind of mundane and boring.
Because of this story conceit introduced right from the get-go, none of the scenes in the cabin hold any weight. None at all. Where there should be tension, it’s an apathetic sigh. Where there should be fun FX, there’s kills in lighting so dark I often couldn’t tell what was going on. Perhaps this calls out my television setup, but as it’s been fine for every other movie (except the ones with SHITTY LIGHTING), I’m going to err on my side.
So whatever, there’s no tension, big deal. At least that other, concurrent storyline is interesting, right? Well… actually, it kind of is. I have to give them credit, they pulled off a good game, making me think it was actually one thing that was going on, before I went all sci-fi and thought it was something else, and then my brain moved in a completely different, more metaphysical direction. When the big reveal finally came, I was pleasantly surprised and I enjoyed it quite a bit. But again, I don’t think the way it plays out was fun to watch, but it is a great and interesting premise.
And that’s how I feel about The Cabin in the Woods: I didn’t really enjoy watching it, but the premise is interesting. I get why people think it’s cool, and it’s all referential and meta and all that, but I just can’t find it in me to stomach it. Since when did movies that reference movies become better than actual movies? Thanks, Tarantino. You make fun movies, but your influence is really getting to annoy me. Oh, and on top of all that, this isn’t even a fucking horror movie. It’s something of a science fiction/fantasy tale that chose to use horror movie iconography to define itself. I’ll take a real horror movie any day of the week.
And with this, we close out another year of Silver Emulsion’s Horrific October! I’m already excited for next year!