October 15, 2012

Movie Monday: The Cabin in the Woods

Cabin in the Woods I wanted to see The Cabin in the Woods back when it was in theaters.  But every time I went to the movies during that time period I was with someone else.  And they never wanted to see a horror movie, either because horror was too scary or because they considered it a dumb and predictable genre.  (And let's face it, I'm not about to accuse slasher films of being smart.  Their feelings were not invalid.)  But The Cabin in the Woods is not a horror film.  There's about 45 minutes of a slasher film in it, but it isn't really scary and I don't think it's meant to be.  It's mostly a horror parody, with a pinch of satire thrown in for flavor.

The Cabin in the Woods is the product of Joss Whedon (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) and Drew Goddard (Cloverfield).  They both wrote the script and Goddard directed.  I can definitely see Whedon's mark on the story, so if you don't like his style, The Cabin in the Woods probably won't work for you.  I am totally unfamiliar with Goddard, but this film was a great first impression.  There's one scene, where a character goes out into the woods and looks over his shoulder, because it is a little creepy outside.  The audience can see the monster weaving in and out of the shadows, but the character just misses her.  It's beautifully framed.  And I can say that for several scenes in this movie - the way things move in and out of frame is very well done.

One thing The Cabin in the Woods does very well is that it doesn't fight the cast's charisma.  In too many horror films you just don't care if everyone dies or if anyone escapes the monster.  Chris Hemsworth is the movie's only big name (though he wasn't when the movie was filmed), and anyone whose seen Thor and The Avengers knows he's a pretty jovial presence.  He's the alpha male of the group and a football player, but he's also shown to be smart, both well read and a good problem solver.  After all, the boxes horror movies put people into are ridiculous.  The Cabin in the Woods shatters those stereotypes.  At the same time, it offers a reason for them.

Fran Kranz as Marty, gif by http://crowdedwithangelstonight.tumblr.com/
The Cabin in the Woods pokes behind the scenes of horror movies, teasing out totally ridiculous reasons for why horror characters act the way they do.  One of the pleasures of The Cabin in the Woods is how it flings the silly, the mundane, and the brutal together.  I know lots of people who were disappointed by the third act and others who thought it was brilliant.  I veer towards brilliant.  It's slower paced than the rest of the movie, but it's different and exciting.  I think most people don't like it because it's where the film totally leaves traditional American horror behind.

And, that's about as much as I can say without giving anything away.  Now, I actually think some of the "spoiler" arguments around this movie are dumb.  It would be just as fun if you know what's coming.  But at the same time, there's a pleasure in keeping mum.  I'll leave it at this: it's a fun movie and I've been enjoying thinking through the layers.

My final word is to those who don't like gore.  The Cabin in the Woods is definitely not torture porn, and while there's quite a bit of gore, most of it is shot in a discretionary way.  If you don't like any blood, this isn't the film for you.  But there are no over-the-top gross gore scenes, in my opinion.


16 comments:

  1. A friend of mine keeps telling me to see this. Sounds like an interesting take on a horror film, so I can't say I'm not curious!

    -Lauren

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    1. Seeeeeeeeeeeeeeee iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiit.

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  2. I just saw this, actually, and I'm one of those who thought the twist ending was brilliant. It was just so unexpected and genre-bending!

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    1. Everyone calls it a "twist," which I'm not sure I agree with, but genre-bending? Definitely. Glad you loved it to!

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  3. I loved this movie, and I'm not generally into horror; it's one of my favorites. And I *loved* the ending.

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    1. Glad to see another lover of the ending! (Plus proof that those who aren't horror buffs can enjoy it.)

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  4. I've been wanting to watch this for a while. I'm really interested in seeing what it's about now that I've heard so many people describe it.

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    1. I hope you get to see it soon! Glad word of mouth has reached you, because this one is awesome.

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  5. I've lost track of the number of times that I've checked the rental shop for this one...I should just buy it, right?

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    1. Probably. I'm planning to buy it. Do you have any Redboxes near you? That's how I rented it.

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  6. I'm excited to see this! I'm a massive Joss Whedon fan, but I missed the film when it was in cinemas in Australia--it had a VERY limited run. Seriously, your review has me even more excited, and I love how you've made the distinction between less... Uh, shall we say 'cerebral' slasher flicks and what went into this. BRILLIANT! ♥

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    1. Hopefully you can rent or buy the film! (Although seeing things in theaters is so nice.) It was a pretty limited run here too . . . hopefully his next indie film (Much Ado About Nothing) gets wider distribution due to the success of The Avengers.

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    2. It comes out on DVD in Australia today! My mum and I (she's a massve Whedon fan) are going to watch it this weekend.

      Oooh, we're really excited for MAAN. Hearing it has a lot of the ex. Firefly cast and Whedon regulars in it :)

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    3. Yep! It was made with his regulars who were hanging around his house for a party. Cannot wait to see it!

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  7. I've been dying to see this movie.

    I love Joss and and horror movies but not as you so accurately called them "torture porn" movies. This sounds like a great twist to the typical horror genre flick.

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