Reviews of The Cabin in the Woods
Displaying all 6 reviews
The concept of going out into the woods and staying at a cabin has never been new to horror films, whether you’re going to find psycho killers, zombies, or viruses waiting to get you as you walk unsuspecting into their trap. This time, the concept is twisted around into something bigger and more along the lines of a science-fiction thriller as we learn of the secret behind the whole exterior of the woods and the cabin. We may we know what The Cabin in the Woods is all about, judging by the title, but the mystery deepens and the violence escalates to a mind-shaking discovery that will either amaze or weird people out.
We know from the very beginning that there is a watchful eye on a group of college students from a secret facility of obnoxious eccentric scientists who are watching eagerly at monitors that catch sight of the young friends. The cliches of horror films, from the strange old man who warns visitors to pranks in the lake to sexual intercourse in the woods, are easily recognizable per se The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Friday the 13th, and The Evil Dead. At any moment, someone will die in a violent way, whether they are having sex or taking a walk or sitting alone in a room, but this time we see the scientists observing and make crude remarks out of anticipation for what will happen to the unsuspecting characters. It comes off as funny and satirical, a way of alluding us – the horror film audience – to the group of scientists who watch anxiously at the monitors and set the death traps in motion for their targets. The zombies that come out are pretty hideous to observe, mostly because we can only see them in the dark, and the shadows makes their form all the more intimidating. Yet the zombies are not what we should be scared of, it’s the crude arrogant scientists who are manipulating the events and lacking any sensitivity about the human lives they are gambling with for unexplained purposes. They may seem comical in their reactions to the horrific events going on, but their expectations and practicality to the horrors shows a lack of humanity on their part for what they want to happen. All the clues to what their game is about are hinted at but only fully explained at the very end, which made me more anxious to see where it was going and get ready for the big surprise.
In the end, there are many interpretations we are forced to examine about The Cabin in the Woods, such as the parallel between excitement for the violence of the horror genre by a film audience and the observing scientists, the vices or virtues of the five main characters that makes them into victims or survivors, and the nature of using human subjects cheaply like in a game that has some bigger purpose to be discovered. Wherever the film kept twisting held my interest and made me anxious to know where this was all going and what would be resolved. That helped me get through the film more as opposed to putting up with an obnoxious archetype of the dumb blonde Jules who likes to flirt with men, the protective sturdy jock Curt, and the mousy smart girl Dana afraid to go to far sexually. The film still managed to find humanity in all the five friends, particularly in the way the soft quiet handsome Holden is apprehensive about letting his sexual urges of seeing Dana in her room through his mirror get the better of him or the stoner Marty keeping his eyes open to the secret bugs in the cabin that open a bigger brain in his drug-induced behavior. These people are being exploited for how different they are from each other, for the sake of what the scientists wish to see and what we expect to see in teen-oriented horror, and we can expect that anyone them will have to start dying soon in order to build up the terrifying gore thrills.
The way they have to die off one by one is nothing new; we’re hearing the same tearful high-pitched screams of girls and the would-be heroic males bravely jumping to the rescue, we’re just getting commentary reactions to these on-screen deaths from the scientists watching them within the film we are watching. The more we’re expected to watch them die off senselessly, we have to ask ourselves why we enjoy that so much in horror films and why the scientists would get a kick of putting human lives in danger. That’s not something that I think this film or any other in the genre can answer for us, we still have to wonder it, we just have to wonder how worth it is to take advantage of a human life only to watch it die. This makes me consider why I want to watch a film where teenage lives are supposed to be bought cheaply on screen for the sake of watching them die, even the scientists’ purpose for setting them up hardly wins understanding for that. When the film takes its huge twist to providing us with the shocking discoveries of what is behind this whole game against the kids, it takes extremities to going beyond the real world, which makes the horror less intimidating and more spectacular.
I suppose this is how far Drew Goddard would go to make this modern day horror film take cliches of other horror films before and twist them together in a more original extravagant spectacle that would raise the question of what we can get out of the genre nowadays. The same blood and gore and archetypes that we’ve seen before and some special effects that are not entirely new, but the end result blows our minds for better or worse, although we have to remind ourselves how far-fetched this kind of horror is that it doesn’t trouble me as much as something more believable in this reality than zombies, monsters, gory effects, and scientific traps.
- Currently 3.0/5 Stars.
Plutôt déçu de cette oeuvre de Drew Goddard, qui a pourtant bénéficié d’une très bonne critique presse en général et le public a plutôt bien suivi ce film. Honnêtement, quelques bonnes idées pour La cabane dans les bois, une oeuvre qui n’arrête pas de renvoyer au cinéma d’horreur d’antan, aux grands d’autrefois, qui démystifie, mais au final, c’est un film qui ne propose pas vraiment de frissons, ni d’humour.
Le début laisse supposer un film d’horreur comme on en a vu des centaines. Des jeunes adolescents, une virée loin de tout et une cabane isolée dans les bois. Que de clichés donc. Pourtant, et c’est évidemment sur ce point que l’oeuvre est la plus intéressante, tout va être déconstruit au fur et à mesure. La jeune fille vierge nous renvoie à du Wes Craven et Scream, mais on a les autres personnages clichés: l’étudiant, le sportif, la pute ou encore l’idiot de service. Un par un vont évidemment mourir dans cette oeuvre, ce n’est pas un secret, on le comprend d’emblée.
Là où le film ajoute une pointe de suspense, c’est évidemment ce qu’il y a derrière cette cabane et les deux employés qui semblent diriger les cinq personnages comme des marionnettes, les envoyer vers une mort certaine. Même s’ils leur laissent le choix, c’est uniquement sur la façon dont ils vont mourir. Pourquoi font-ils cela? C’est là toute la question qui demeure durant le film, jusqu’au final.
C’est une fin plutôt inattendue qui nous est servie, assez mystique et dont le tout ne fait qu’appuyer la distanciation constante du film sur l’horreur. Le problème réside dans ce fait d’ailleurs. A force de prendre du recul, de déconstruire tout ce qui a été fait, cette oeuvre n’est ni pas un film d’horreur, ni une comédie. Honnêtement, jamais ressenti le moindre frisson et peut-être souri l’une ou l’autre fois. C’est assez maigre.
Reste évidemment toutes ces bonnes idées et un casting assez correct. On notera l’agréable apparition, bien que trop courte, de Sigourney Weaver. Pas vraiment mauvais, ni bon, La cabane dans les bois est une oeuvre aux bonnes idées, tentant de renouveler le genre, mais échouant quelque peu dans son entreprise.
- Currently 2.0/5 Stars.
OT: The Cabin in the Woods
USA, 95 min.
Regie: Drew Goddard
Drehbuch: Joss Whedon, Drew Goddard
Kamera: Peter Deming
Darsteller: Kristen Connolly, Chris Hemsworth, Anna Hutchison, Fran Kranz, Jesse Williams, Richard Jenkins, Bradley Whitford, Brian White, Amy Acker
Fünf Freunde wollen das Wochenende in einer einsamen Hütte im Wald verbringen. Doch keiner ahnt, dass aus ihrem Ausflug ein Höllentrip wird, der nicht nur ihre Welt erschüttert.
Probably the most fun I have had at the movies since . . . I don’t know when, Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard’s “The Cabin in the Woods” plays around with all the familiar, clichéd elements of the horror genre, molding them like clay into easily recognizable shapes before rolling over them with five hundred steam-rollers and, in the process, transcending the genre in a more creative and outrageous fashion than horror master Wes Craven was able to do back in 1996 with his postmodern-postmortem slasher flick, “Scream.”
What do five college students off for a sexed-up weekend getaway in a remote cabin in the middle of the woods have to do with two middle-aged government employees working in some kind of top-secret industrial facility for top-secret operations? Well, it is no spoiler to readers that the two technicians are monitoring the students through many hidden cameras for the newest top-secret project, and that the cabin itself is not meant for a relaxing weekend away from it all.
What is the project? To start off, each of the five students happens to fit nicely into a stereotypical kind of horror movie victim. There is Kurt the jock (Curt), Jules the slut (Anna Hutchinson), Dana the virgin (Kristin Connolly), Holden the nice guy (Jessie Williams) and Marty the pothead (Fran Kranz).
Meanwhile, the technicians (Richard Jenkins and Bradley Whitford) are manipulating their decisions, thought and even their sex-drives, all for the purposes of getting them down into the cabin cellar, where a crucial decision lies that will determine the eventual outcome of the operation.
I dare not say more, plot wise, for fear of robbing future viewers of the experience of watching writers Whedon and Goddard aggressively tear down every single wall that horror filmmakers have built over the years. I will say the final third of “The Cabin in the Woods” is a showstopper, both a monumental black eye and a sweet embrace of the horror genre by two guys who love it to pieces — literally. Some bloodshed certainly is not out of the question.
Although a lover of great horror — I’m perpetually in the middle of a Stephen King novel — there most likely are many references and inside jokes I missed, but horror fans must gather round for this exciting and refreshing deconstruction of the genre.
- Currently 4.0/5 Stars.
It’s best to go into The Cabin in the Woods as oblivious as possible. Yes, I realize reading my two cents may negate this claim, but it’s safe to keep reading, I promise. I don’t aim to reveal much beyond the film’s basics and the carefully studied means it takes to achieve its surprisingly complex end. I’ll admit my knee-jerk assumptions about this film (based on the exhausted, pornographically violent state of horror films today) led me to think it would merely be another entry into the late winter/early spring slasher run proving both nondescript and derivative. The Cabin in the Woods is certainly the latter, but in a way that is distinctly peculiar, ingeniously camp, and anything but forgettable. For a silly slasher movie, and even for a knowingly hammy pop-art piece, the film achieves a refreshing air of something rare, something ingenious, and more importantly, a specific fun of the very best kind that only horror movies can give.
On the one hand, The Cabin in the Woods is nothing more than what anyone has come to expect from any one of today’s horror movies. A group of attractive, heterosexual twenty-somethings decide to “get this party started” and flee their college lifestyle to the most remote and suspicious of cabins where they shall be isolated and primed for the eventual bloodbath we paid our eleven dollars to see. Everything continues to fall into place as night falls, the fog from the lake rolls in, and the weed and booze lets everyone’s guard down just enough to fornicate out in the open wilderness, where they’ll be served on a platter for our perverse delight in what we all know is coming to the promiscuous in a horror film. On the surface, even the mechanics of that “what” are banal and expected, as is the built-in main attraction of all our heroes avoiding their over-the-top demise long enough to meet a briskly satisfying 95-minute running time. Minus the lone survivor, of course. (Well, maybe.)
While a horror movie audience’s expectations are certainly met, the film’s other hand knows how sophisticated and desensitized we’ve become to watching those expectations unfold in a quiet suburban community, a rigged industrial complex, or an abandoned spacecraft with alien monsters, zombies, or even Japanese child ghosts. Going to the latest horror movie just involves us waiting for the inevitable, comparing its extremities to those we’ve seen in the past, and at best, leaving the theater appeased or mildly shocked. There is nowhere new to go and little more that can be done memorably within the genre this film unashamedly belongs to. By this point, slasher horror itself has been done to death, or at the very least, it can no longer be taken seriously. The Cabin in the Woods is well aware of the state of things but manages to believe in itself anyhow as the sort of clever game of prediction and surprise that the horror film used to be.
Sure, The Cabin in the Woods is overtly reflexive like a lot of genre pictures have to be these days. It wants us to know that it knows how contrived and improbable its scenarios need to play out and how far against basic common sense its characters need to think (or perhaps need to be forced to) in order to end up on our slab. Wes Craven’s Scream franchise is, of course, primarily responsible for introducing and even encouraging this film geek know-it-all style that successfully deconstructed horror clichés and prototypes by outwardly flaunting an awareness of its “rules”. But as the sequels progressed, the players in Scream began to speak about horror movies and their own horror in such specialized terms that only a screenwriter could’ve written it as such in order to pander to an audience not as smart as he is.
Watching a movie as hyper-meta as this one inherently encourages (and in this case, more so rewards) the same awareness of horror cliché, subgenres, and trends, but The Cabin the Woods never does so from a place outside of itself like Scream did. While the film employs rusty tool-wielding hillbilly zombies à la George Romero and Tobe Hooper (that awaken from the dead in true John Landis Thriller fashion), fetishistic indulgence in video surveillanced torture à la the Saw and Paranormal Activity franchises, and even the vengeful familial pathos of Michael Myers and Jason Voorhees in the Halloween and Friday the 13th installments, it still comes across as fresh and fascinating. It loves these devices of horror (and includes much, much more than I’ve mentioned) and instead of explicitly deconstructing them, it offers an unexpected and “legitimate” reason for their existence. The plot, and more specifically the ending of this adventure, are both completely ludicrous and yet fully appropriate for a genre determined to punish those who transgress so we can take inherently perverse pleasure in witnessing their torture.
Screenwriter and pop culture prince Joss Whedon deserves most of the credit for how well The Cabin in the Woods successfully skirts the line between honoring genre codex while winking at its absurdity. His Buffy the Vampire Slayer television series transformed a blonde high school cheerleader into a modern-day Van Helsing, an enormously successful show operating on the principle of pent-up sexuality within both vampires and teenagers as well as their perceived immortality. His contribution to the Pixar franchise in Toy Story operated on the principle of childhood imagination rendering the inanimate to life and the loyalty we all have towards nostalgic memorabilia. One thing consistent throughout his work is charm, and The Cabin in the Woods certainly preserves that as much as decapitation, bludgeoning, flesh eating can allow.
Here, Whedon is most interested in archetypes. We have our blonde whore (Anna Hutchison) in love with her dim-witted athletic boyfriend (Chris Hemsworth), the studious scholar (Jesse Williams) who keeps his sexual feelings for the pensive goody-goody virgin (Kristen Connolly) at a respectful distance, and the fool (Fran Kranz) whose bumblesome ways round out the group dynamic. However, these horror film archetypes are born from the situational (and later, involuntarily enforced through synthetic pheromones) and are not intrinsic. In their first scene, Whedon and first-time director Drew Goddard establish the token blonde as truly not (it’s an impulse hair coloring), the virgin as anything but (she’s had an affair with her professor), the athlete as sharp and educated (suggesting a philosophy text offering a better grasp on course material), the scholar as athletically adept (he’s able to catch a sudden football toss), and the fool as the only one aware of the increasing artifice infiltrating their behavior and locale.
To truly discuss the significance of the archetypal in The Cabin in the Woods is to spoil the ride, but let’s just say Whedon links its significance in the horror film to its place in our collective world culture’s archaic, violently religious past. A direct parallel is drawn between what were essentially exhibitionistic rituals of gore and our now very modern, voyeuristic impulse to consume that shock in the comfort of a theater. Voyeurism is, of course, built into virtually all corners of the horror genre, one of many theoretical tropes Whedon and Goddard revel in. One scene in particular involves an accidentally discovered one-way mirror between two of the cabin rooms where one of our males and one of our females both take momentary, erotically-charged pleasure in spying on each other from the privileged room. The smarts behind it and its execution are enough to make Michael Powell and Alfred Hitchcock proud.
The Cabin in the Woods doesn’t condescend our knowledge of horror convention but trusts our intelligence in navigating through it, and to a greater extent, it doesn’t solely rely on the cleverness that comes with knowing “this is only a horror movie”. Instead, it relies more on its sincerity and, I’d argue, a deep respect for all facets of the horror genre that it so bizarrely manages to include and entertain with equal measure. It’s knowingly silly enough to preserve a level of critical distance and to keep it all the more comedic than horrific, but it’s also serious enough to create genuine curiosity as to why our five victims are being subjected to every trick in the book. Solving that puzzle at its center is what’s most enjoyable, a funhouse of sorts that is gradually revealed throughout the film from a cleverly oblique angle. At its deftly conceived and enjoyably ridiculous conclusion, the cathartic punch of a twist ending is felt, but the lazy screenwriting associated with that twist is, thankfully, the main horror film characteristic that is missing.
- Currently 4.0/5 Stars.
Cabin in the Woods Directed by Drew Goddard.
Where do I begin with a movie so…sporadic. Perhaps with stating my adoration of such a creative work; I do believe this film is owed some applause. We commence with quirky banter from the always brilliant Richard Jenkins (Step Brothers, The Rum Diary) as Sitterson and Bradley Whitford (Billy Madison) as Hadley which will set the tone for the entire film. This scene shows cockiness shared between the two as they state that they are best, second to only the Japanese who have a perfect track record, for what we don’t know. With a jolt the film begins, and in a classic horror film fashion.
We are introduced to the main characters, the first being Dana (Kristen Connolly), the quiet, cute, innocent girl next door who we pray will go unharmed. Immediately following, the flirtatious and tantalizing blonde, Jules (Anna Hutchinson), which we all know will inevitably meet a horrible fate. Enter her physically fit, jock boyfriend, Curt (Chris Hemsworth), whom we expect will play the hero soon enough. Next up is the quiet and smart yet dexterous Holden (Jessie Williams), which, if I know my horror, will be the caring level headed love interest to our sweet Dana. Lastly, what horror movie could be called a horror movie without the classic stoner for comedic relief; not expecting much out of him but to make us laugh in between kills.
The first twist, and there are many, is in the fact that these characters do not fit their profile. Dana isn’t as quiet and innocent as we wish her to be, having been involved sexually with a professor. Jules, new to blonde, seems a bit more conservative when compared to many other horror movie incarnates. The jock happens to be very well educated and humble. The cautious bookworm, catches a football thrown from a window, in front of a car mind you, seemingly athletic. The stoner, does maintain his “high” jinx, but foreshadows prophetically what is to come; unbeknownst to us of course. It’s immediately obvious that whatever will become of our 5 archetypes is in direct correlation with what Sitterson and Hadley are parts of. Before too long we encounter the harbinger of death, classically portrayed as a disturbing redneck in an abandoned gas station; that makes it apparent that they are fully capable of making it to their destination, it’s returning that poses a challenge.
In a scene reminiscent of how Rose entered Silent Hill, Goddard shows us only one way to enter the forest of their demise and leaves a discerning feeling that things are nothing like they seem. Not long after our heroes fall further into their archaic structure, they find the dreaded cellar, of which, good can never come.
We continuously jump back and forth between the chaos at the cabin and the ludicrousness of the lab which seems to lack morality (in a hilarious way). Sitterson and Hadley control the entire forest, any aspect, similar to the recent Hunger Games. Though they can manipulate the area around our 5 doomed souls, the act of free will is essential for to complete whatever sick game is underway. Zombies rise from the ground after a small Latin incantation. One by one, again in very classic horror movie fashion, the unfortunately kids are picked off. The only one hip to what’s actually happening is our stoner who gets dragged off screen and gets taken out, what hope do we have now…
Once Dana is the lone survivor, the game is over and it’s time to get the party started with some tequila for the world has been saved once again, from what, we don’t exactly know yet…but once again our clever stoner has beat the odds and survived. Thus breaking the scheme. From this point on its a free for all featuring almost every horror film baddie ever made. I’ll spare the gruesome details for you to see for yourself, I’ll just say a merman make a hilarious appearance.
This new film co-writen by Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard (writer for such films as Cloverfield) and directed by Goddard is fresh and inventive. Every horrifying twist and turn is undercut with stark humor in a glorious balance. The film is so obviously self aware and catered delicately into satire that it hardly can be considered a horror at all. It takes all the stereotypes that we’ve seen recycled in almost every film and book and completely flips them on their ear. It comes almost as a relief when the monotony is broken and leaves us with truly the ending to all endings.
- Currently 5.0/5 Stars.