I just got back from seeing this, and I wasn’t particularly impressed. (Of course, my horror film knowledge is extremely limited, so that may be a factor). This is my (probably very naive and ignorant) opinion: it seemed no different from a generic horror movie, except they called out the genre’s tropes as they happened. Then the whole thing happened again, but one level up.
To me, it was like a comedian telling an oft-repeated joke and then saying, “Did you see what I did there? I told a joke you’ve all heard before! It’s funny because other comedians have told this joke before, except they meant it and I’m just doing it ironically!”
I like irony and all, but wouldn’t it be better to tell a good joke? Or is my distaste just a reflection of my ignorance of the horror genre?
Edit: I also picked up some Cube vibes from a few scenes. Did anyone else notice that?
Jazz, the mention of Haneke was as much intended to bring up the idea that there is a sort of pleasure in negation, masochism, or victimhood involved in “horror” films as anything else. I would suggest that hatred of youth isn’t exactly the driving force behind a genre primarily enjoyed by youth, it is more complicated than that as there is something of a necessity for those watching the film to feel connected to the protagonists, to identify with them in the large, but deny that identification in the specific, a feeling that someone or something out there wants them, as a group, dead, or suggests that they, as a group are “guilty” but then, by awareness of the “guilt” their group may hold, holds them as exempt from the mass, as special or separate. This way the audience is both implicated and, ultimately, freed from the full force of the implications by dint of their awareness of them. If it were otherwise, as it occasionally can be, then the victims or guilty parties in the films would or could be of a group not associated with the audience, films could be made where the elderly or infants were slaughtered, for example. That would suggest a different kind of relationship between the audience and the film as the identification would be diffuse or more generalized and thereby speak to a different kind of threat. After all it would be hard to claim that youth is somehow simply hated if measuring the way culture so favors it as a whole, things are more complicated than that. So too is there further complications when the filmmakers add a level of awareness about the tropes to the characters within the film. I haven’t seen this particular movie, so I can’t speak to anything about it specifically, so I’ll leave it there.
I just saw it, I loved it. Probably the best mainstream film I’ve seen since Toy Story 3.
I also immediately thought of Funny Games. I liked the bits where they were fixing the game, like somebody would make a good decision, then they would release chemical mist into the air to make them change their mind to a bad decision.
Other than the horror genre it’s also commenting on the scifi genre, and its completely reactionary morality. It’s the same kind of joke as Ren & Stimpy’s ‘Powdered Toast Man’, in which the morality of the bit centers entirely on the fate of ‘Little Johnny’. It is never acceptable to do something that is in itself evil in order to prevent a greater evil, and no matter what else happens, if the main characters are not killed by the people trying to kill them, it is a happy ending. According to the scifi genre, Cabin In The Woods had a happy ending.
It is also, with complete certainty, Abed from Community’s second favorite film of all time, next to only Kickpuncher.
I have a very similar reaction—although I’m not a huge horror fan. On the other hand, I’ve seen a bit of horror movies but I just don’t have the stomach for them.
I like irony and all, but wouldn’t it be better to tell a good joke?
To be fair, I think the whole point is to critique and make fun of the “bad joke.”
Yeah, the boxes of creatures moving around.
I didn’t mean to imply that “hatred of youth” was the only factor. You’re right, that would be too simplistic. I think the film seemed to suggest this, though—in a half-baked way, and pseudo-intellectual…which makes me wonder if the film also makes fun of critical analysis of horror films. What do others think about this?
There is an ideological strain of thought around many horror films dealing with repression that sort of goes along with some notions of there being something of a moral attitude to many horror films that, in essence, seeks to reinforce conformity by punishing transgression, crudely put. Though I can’t condense all the forms of that argument into any single sort of argument, I would say that there are some issues with many of them in how they frame what the audience knows and how or why they respond. I wouldn’t be surprised if Goddard was referencing some form of that argument though as it fits what I would guess is something of his point of view if it dovetails with Whedon’s at all.
I think the reason horror films tend to be about young people is that, as adults, they are blank slates. They have just been emancipated for the first time from parental oversight, so they respond to every situation with instinct and wit, not experience. I also think younger people trigger our base protective and bacchic emotions more viscerally than older people, which is what the genre is all about.
So you don’t think the film is making fun of some of the theories about horror films?
But if what you’re saying is true, wouldn’t the films be more effective if they featured children, say 10-13 year olds?
Like I say, i haven’t seen it, but judgiing from what I know of those involved that seems like a good guess. Well, maybe not quite “making fun” exactly though as they tend to take these sorts of things more seriously than that term might imply, but if one thinks of it as making fun with a point, that would fit the MO I’m thinking of.
Not if they haven’t been through puberty, and reached the age where they first appear to us as sexual entities.
“The film’s commentary is that horror writers are lazy, and so are the audiences (at least the ones that pay for shit like Hostel).”
As long as we can include Goddard and Whedon in this group, I’m down with this statement.
I agree that the film is more of a black comedy and not even trying to make it scary (which makes the comparison to Scream not that great in terms of “which one is scarier?”).
However if we’re going off of black comedy genre-benders, I would point to Rare Exports and Trollhunter as more effective. Trollhunter was much more funny than Rare Exports but in both cases, they were much more enjoyable.
House – do you have a link to that quiz you took?
btw – While everyone talks about Funny Games being made for an audience that would never see the film, I take a bit of an issue with this. On the surface, yes, it might be for people who love violence and it’s a film that’s chastising you for it. But the reality is that the film it ended up being a movie seen by people like Haneke, people who like to chastise others for liking certain things. It’s a very hipster kind of a film and in an odd way, I wonder if Haneke consciously intended this (I have to think that he did, if he’s as smart as he seems to be).
“I like irony and all, but wouldn’t it be better to tell a good joke?”
Yes. That was sort of what I was getting at when I said this was a film for horror fans, not filmmakers. Make a good horror film and you’ll inspire people. Make a self-referential, self-congratulatory, wink-wink film and you’ll salivate the genre masses.
And I also got the Cube references, specifically the actual cubes that the monsters were housed in. lol.
“I think the reason horror films tend to be about young people is that, as adults, they are blank slates.”
Maybe I’m more cynical but I just think it’s lazy writing. It’s much easier to have young stupid people than old stupid people and since the genre is so dependent on stupid characters, making them young (and hot) is much easier.
Yeah, much as I liked the film, I think Santino is correct about the lazy writing. It’s a good excuse not to write compelling well-developed characters because they are self-consciously empty genre vessels representing archetypes.
^I will say that if Goddard or Whedon makes a film that does do this, that does make a balls out awesome genre-defining horror film with compelling, well-developed characters and scares the shit out of me, that’s when I’ll heap my respect onto them.
Until then, they’re just the next generation Kevin Smith.
Ouch, that’s a low blow, Santino. Kevin Smith is the Godwin’s Law of Mubi.
I see it more as a way to target the audience’s base emotional reactions than something lazy.
Cabin In The Woods isn’t a film made for hipsters, it’s a film made for nerd culture. I think I’ve mentioned in other threads that Wheadon writes for ‘Abed from Community’. If anyone’s not familiar with that show, he’s a character with Aspergers who is obsessed with escapism to the point he has trouble distinguishing real life from television (Making him the driving force for the meta elements of the show). His current obsession is a Dr Who style show called ‘Inspector Spacetime’. Cabin In The Woods is for the same people who liked Firefly and Farscape, who are more interested in the genre physics and the characters’ decision making process than the emotional elements.
@ Jirin -
“I see it more as a way to target the audience’s base emotional reactions than something lazy.”
I agree with you but the difference is that I define “targeting an audience’s base emotions” as lazy. Or at the very least, it’s not particularly interesting.
“Cabin In The Woods isn’t a film made for hipsters, it’s a film made for nerd culture.”
I also agree with this. As I said, this is a protypical Comic-Con type of film. It’s made by fans of the genre for fans of the genre. Funny Games was the film I was saying that was for hipsters.
I share the view that movies that target my base emotions are less to my preference than films that invite me to analyze them on my own terms, but I disagree that that makes it lazy.
I know this was probably covered, but the doll faces were a reference to The Strangers, and this becomes obvious when they are seen tying up a few people on one of the monitors near the end of the film.
I’m 100% with Santino. this film is really funny for a little bit (sometimes unintentionally) but honestly feels obnoxious. You recognize genre tropes. We get how smart you are. Now make something substantial instead of making a film that essentially bitches about the genre while doing nothing about it.
Maybe I just don’t get Joss Whedon, but I think everything I’ve seen from him has annoyed me in some way. and if Whedon writes for Community or has any sort of influence there, thats probably why I can’t stand that show.
“Maybe I’m more cynical but I just think it’s lazy writing. It’s much easier to have young stupid people than old stupid people and since the genre is so dependent on stupid characters, making them young (and hot) is much easier.”
The “stupid characters” is the reason for the satire. By not writing compelling characters as Ari said was exactly what the filmmaking team wanted to accomplish. It seems with how much that satirized the horror genre, that they want you to believe that the characters were one-dimensional archetypes because that is exactly what you see in 90% of the horror films today. In fact, I thought it was interesting that not every character stayed true to their part, like the intellectual was portrayed as highly athletic at the beginning of the film, and so on. I also thought the acting was going to be sub-par when we are first introduced with the virgin, but I was pleasantly surprise of her performance by the end of the film.
By the way, I think that Kevin Smith’s last film was his best yet.
I actually liked the characters in this; they twisted the stereotypes, which made them fuller. And the dramatic tension of the film comes from our wanting both for the characters to survive and, presumably, for the world to not end.
As for the comedy, I found it very funny, and not only for genre-reference reasons (I’m not that steeped in horror history), though by far the biggest laughs came in the resolution of the Japan story. If you’re not falling off your chair laughing at that, the movie may not be for you.
But I think anyone on board with the likes of The Evil Dead movies and/or Joss Whedon’s work will find themselves very much at home here.
(First of all just wanted to establish that I loved the film. Thought it was brilliant and it was the most fun I’ve had in a theatre since Grindhouse. That being said…)
I think a really important scene is when all of the controllers are celebrating and Dana is getting attacked. I’d say that was the first time during the movie that the violence made me uncomfortable. I cared about Dana and she was getting killed in the background… Here’s the brilliance… I only cared about the “virgin”!!! I only cared when I had to watch others gain enjoyment in a way not too far off from my attitude the rest of the movie.
My thoughts aren’t fully formed, but I think what I liked so much about this movie is it had a lot of depth but its message wasn’t all that clear. Instead of preaching like Funny Games (which I do love by the way), it was much more Socratic in the way it was presented. It brought up issues of the horror genre as well as humanity’s love for violence, and yet also showed just how entertaining horror can be. It asked questions, many of which I have no answer for, but I had a great time in the theatre and I’ve had a great time thinking about it after.
Santino, How is The House of the Devil more original than this movie??
I wouldn’t say House of the Devil is more original (did I say that in a previous comment? lol) but I will say it was more effective in accomplishing what it wanted to accomplish (and a lot more interesting). I mean, they’re too completely different films – one is a scary horror film that’s an homage to ’70s-80s flicks. The other is a meta-horror comedy.
I have a hard time even calling this film horror since it was neither scary nor moody. It’s like saying Hobo With a Shotgun or Machete are good acting films. They’re not – but they are fun grindhouse films that plays off of a specific kind of genre.