Oh horror fans, and comedy fans, come together and enjoy this tongue-in-cheek fresh take on an old idea. As many may know, The Cabin In The Woods is a film that starts out like a typical 80s horror film about young beautiful people going into the woods, stay in a cabin and get slaughtered by some monster.
Cabin does start out like this, but as anyone who has seen the trailer knows, that’s not what this movie is about. The first scene of the movie lets you know that there’s more to this story as there is an overseeing, “big brother” organization that is controlling the action here. Their motives are a mystery but you know it means nothing good for our five youngsters.
The movie is fresh and original in it’s idea, which is the main appeal of this film. Joss Whedon pulls out his usual creative flair by crafting a story that changes perspective and has you guessing “what’s the real motive here?” all the way through. You will be confused at moments, shocked at others, laugh in the most awkward places, and provided with enough genuine horror scares that most people who see this film will be thoroughly entertained.
I must mention however the subtext, which may contain SPOILERS so don’t read any further if you don’t want to know.
The moral, if you can call it that, of this horror/dark comedy is not for everyone. Very early on you can get the sense of the world view the filmmakers have. Wrapped in blood and jokes, it can be overlooked, but there’s a certain level of preaching going on here.
Everything from marijuana legalization (the pothead sees things clearly, and also by smoking it is immune to the poisons Big Brother is pumping into their controlled environment – yeah, a bit preachy), to anti-business sentiments, to classic stereotypes, to a very “people suck, I’m in love with my own genius” attitude permeate through the story. At times, I almost felt like the filmmakers were grinning at me from behind the film, saying “we’re smarter than you, we know what’s best, you are all sheep and humanity should end” – which essentially is the moral of the story.
Yes, it’s done in the old fallback for social commentary: jokes and tongue-in-cheek wink-winks as mentioned earlier. Ironically enough, the social commentary is the LEAST original part of the movie.
The ending is good in that it isn’t how this kind of movie would usually end, but it also had me cringing at the viewpoint being suggested here. Stories are a way for storytellers to shape the world as they see it or as they wish it, and I left the film wondering why I was just told by this story that my family, friends and loved ones are worth less than my ability to be anti-whatever.
On the flip side, there are a lot of great nods in this film to other horror icons, and a wonderful cameo at the end of this Ridley’s Believe It or Not carnival ride we go on through the second half of Cabin. Those who are film junkies will see the nods to Hellraiser and The Ring amongst a lot of other stories of the last few decades.
Cabin is a great film to see. It’s inventive, fun, scary, quirky and original. The subtext will appeal to the artsy, liberal, anti-everything crowd, the rest of us can forgive it for the slightly preachy philosophy on humanity. Either way, this is a film you should see just for the uniqueness of its story and cinematic craftsmanship.
4 out of 5