Eyes Kept Open, Cabin in the Woods

Since my husband & I found ourselves together in the big city, without our kids, we decided to catch a movie that was for grownups.

click on the image to play the trailer

I have wanted to see Cabin in the Woods for a while and I was encouraged by the positive reviews on Rotten Tomatoes. I am not a fan of horror in particular, just good stories and if any movie is too gory, I usually cover my eyes. I had avoided all the Saw films but enjoyed the recent Fright Night remake. And – hey, X-files, Buffy and Supernatural fan here. But mostly, I wanted to see this film because it was a product of creative minds belonging to Joss Whedon (Buffy) and Drew Goddard (Lost) and if nothing else, the story would be interesting and witty. I am familiar with some of the horror classics (Evil Dead, Halloween, Nightmare on Elm Street) and really enjoyed the first Scream and Final Destination films so I was pretty ready for this film. I understood it to be a twist on the usual cliches. And boy was it ever!

The story involves 5 college students (including a pre-Thor Chris Hemsworth)


on a weekend getaway to a cousin’s cabin in the woods. Of course, this turns out to be a bad idea. Just how bad, I wasn’t sure. I had seen the trailers, so I knew that this was no ordinary cabin and there were much larger forces at work. These forces were larger than any that I have encountered in such a film before. It is kind of like the environmental manipulation by the powers that be as seen in The Hunger Games crossed with the isolated setting of The Evil Dead and pepper with a conspiracy plot that doesn’t quite rival The Bourne Identity.

So instead of the usual dumb blonde, we have a pre-med student who decides to dye her hair blonde for a change, not realizing that the dye had been deliberately tainted by the powers that be with something that drops her IQ. And the stoner dude is actually not bad at problem solving. Clearly, the powers that be are manipulating these 5 friends into fitting the horror genre stereotypes. Not since the Scream franchise have I seen the horror genre dissected so brilliantly.

Is this film scary? Well the woman sitting in front of me at the theatre must have thought so as she jumped, shrieked and sent popcorn flying throughout the 95 min runtime. That sent me into fits of giggles, making the theatrical experience pretty darn fun. I realized that this was the first time I had seen a horror movie in the company of strangers. It is usually something that I wait to see on home video. As a point of reference, a film that failed the gore test for me is Reservoir Dogs. I love the movie but cannot stand watching prolonged suffering or torturing. So that film has a scene at which I must close my eyes and ears. Any film that involves dismembering a living thing, outside of Monty Python and the Holy Grail is pretty much to be avoided as well. I draw the line at anything referred to as torture porn. Pretty sure I can’t handle that. So for cabin in the Woods, yes there was your usual impaling and zombie attacks but nothing too over the top. That the scary bits were interspersed with some social satire helped temper the film. It passed (or failed depending how you think of it) the gore test of whether or not I had to close my eyes and whisper to my husband “I can’t handle this, tell me when it is over”. Oh yes, I kept my eyes open. This film also passed the “watch test,” as I did not check the time at all during this film.  I loved how blasé the powers that be in the film were about the fate of our 5 vacationers. It is the way I feel about reality TV. The special effects were pretty good, considering the budget was relatively low.

What I liked most about this film was that I did not know who was going to die next and I had no idea how the story would resolve itself and tie all the loose threads. It did so beautifully and unpredictably. I bought the malarkey concluding explanation, because it was fun getting to that point, and I am not sure that I would have acted any differently from our remaining heroes, given the chance.  I rather enjoyed this film more than I did Joss Whedon’s Avengers, because it kept me wondering, what next? What I hope is next is now that The Avengers has smashed box-office records, Whedon can get some money to support some more original and imaginative films.


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. 8teen39
    Jun 05, 2012 @ 16:51:22

    I was a bit disappointed in the ending. But getting there was definitely fun. We should have seen more of these types of machinations by the powers that be in The Hunger Games!


  2. Trackback: The Martian: a review | What is Ann Watching?

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