The Cabin in the Woods (2012)

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!

8 comments to The Cabin in the Woods (2012)

  • This is a hell of a fun movie that features twists that got better and better as the film went on. It’s crazy that horror films can be this fun and entertaining just by smart and witty writing. However, it won’t last for too long so we might as well enjoy it while Whedon and Goodard are around. Good review Will.

  • Nice review! A agree with everything you had to say here (although I was more willing to give it the benefit of the doubt more than you were). I was really hoping that this film would live up to the hype and it just couldn’t. It treated me like I didn’t know my horror films and it was quite irritating.

    If you want, check out my review here and see that we basically had the same feelings towards it 😀

    • Thanks, it definitely doesn’t live up to the hype. Glad to know I’m not the only one that didn’t love it. I checked out your review as well, good one! Thanks for coming by and commenting!

  • I haven’t seen this yet, Will, but I’ve heard many a good thing about it. Hopefully soon I’ll get a chance to check it out. I don’t mind films that go a bit meta from time to time (a trend started by the Scream franchise, I believe?) but when it happens ALL THE TIME I start to get a bit sick of it….

    • Matt Reifschneider

      Best meta film? Last Action Hero.

      • One of these days I’m gonna have to revisit that one. I saw it once in the theater and it was such a huge disappointment to me as a twelve-year-old kid. Perhaps this experience laid the seeds of hatred for self-aware films?

    • Well yeah, this is very meta. Scream was the beginning of the downfall for horror, yes, that was the first big, self-aware horror. I just want a fun horror movie, self-aware shit bugs. That’s why I stay away from modern horror for the most part. Hopefully you like it more than I did when you see it. With the response it’s gotten, I’d say it’s a good possibility!

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