Why ‘Cabin in the Woods’ is So Much Damn Fun

by Eric Melin on April 20, 2012

in Reviews,Video Reviews

This review originally appeared in shorter form on KSNT-NBC, KTKA-ABC, and KTMJ-FOX, Kansas First News.

The director of Marvel’s upcoming movie The Avengers (Joss Whedon) and a veteran of the hit TV series Lost (Drew Goddard) have teamed up for one of the most original horror movies in a long time.

The first Scream movie in 1996 deconstructed the horror genre by having its characters talk about horror movie “rules” even as they were in one themselves. More than 15 years later, the new mind-bending horror flick The Cabin in the Woods takes horror satire to a whole new level.

The movie starts with two middle-aged men (a droll Richard Jenkins and Bradley Whitford) in a high-security compound making idle office chatter and then abruptly shifts to something more familiar to horror audiences: a group of teenagers spending a weekend in a secluded cabin.

The teenagers fit the stereotypes of most slasher movies: The jock (Chris Hemsworth, Thor), the slut (Anna Hutchison), the brain (Jesse Williams), the stoner (Fran Kranz), and the virgin (Kristen Connolly)

cabin-in-the-woods-2012-teenagersThe strategic unfolding of how these two stories relate to each other is what makes The Cabin in the Woods such a refreshing surprise. If you’ve ever wondered why someone walks into a pitch-black basement all alone or does other really stupid things that usually wind up getting them killed in horror movies, The Cabin in the Woods has the answer.

The entire film works as a metaphor for horror filmmakers and horror audiences. At least for commercially successful horror films, the ones that make a ton of money usually follow some pretty established templates. The Cabin in the Woods certainly sends up the slasher movie template, but it also  opens up to cast a much wider net, and the story actually supports that larger exploration.

cabin-in-the-woods-compound-office-2012Much has been written about  the “twist” or “surprise” ending. Simply put: there isn’t one. It would be a shame to spoil the bigger picture of The Cabin in the Woods before seeing it, but what’s really happening is a slow trickling out of information that will gradually alter the  perspective of what you’re seeing.

All the meticulous buildup leads to a hugely satisfying payoff; the kind that doesn’t really exist in mainstream modern horror anymore. And—despite all its ironic detachment—The Cabin in the Woods has tons of laughs, some truly jaw-dropping moments and a couple scenes of unexpected poignancy that make it more than a parody movie.

Whether you like horror movies or not, you owe it to yourself to see The Cabin in the Woods.

Eric is the Editor-in-Chief of Scene-Stealers and regular critic for KCTV5. He’s a member of the BFCA, VP of the KCFCC, and drummer for The Dead Girls and Ultimate Fakebook. He is also the current 2013 Air Guitar World Champion Mean Melin. Eric goes to 11. Follow him at:

Facebook Twitter Google+ YouTube 

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Cody April 20, 2012 at 8:38 am

Fucking EPIC awesome movie!

Reply

2 Brenna April 20, 2012 at 1:43 pm

Absolutely LOVED Cabin in the Woods. Planning to see it again.

Reply

3 Jimmy April 21, 2012 at 5:29 pm

I enjoyed it for all the same reasons Eric did. Even though there were points that were annoying for me, the premise paid off in the end. But my favorite part is that it commentary on the generic horror movie formula.

Reply

4 Eric Melin April 23, 2012 at 4:40 pm

I’m eager to see it again knowing how it ends and see how it plays. I think the stoner will be less annoying the 2nd time since he’s the smartest one in the room….

Reply

5 Jimmy April 23, 2012 at 10:43 pm

I honestly wanted him to die first he was that annoying. So yeah, definitely, he was the smartest one and had important and fore-shadowing lines in the whole thing.

I also loved the metaphors you pointed out in the podcast. Why couldn’t I have seen that?!

Reply

6 Farrah April 29, 2012 at 6:22 pm

A great movie I’ll definitely see again. I almost left when it was shaping up to be different than I thought it would be by starting off so campy and cheesy, but I sat through it in case and couldn’t have been happier with how it all played out.

Reply

7 Robert Madison September 20, 2012 at 10:16 pm

Watched this last night. Been thinking about it all day, and the more I think about it, the more I like it. Definitely going to watch this one again!

Reply

8 Eric Melin September 21, 2012 at 2:15 pm

Yeah, it’s definitely worth multiple watches to pick up on some of the clues and the fun little details yo may have missed the first time out.

Reply

Leave a Comment

 

Previous post:

Next post: