Friday the 13th is upon us and thank goodness for Lionsgate for bringing us the highly anticipated The Cabin in the Woods on this glorious holiday. Yes, I consider it a holiday and I’m sure if you love horror, you do too.
The film commenced filming for MGM back in 2009 and was given a late winter 2010 date for release. Sadly, that is when the film started getting pushed back. Many people were curious why this was the case. Was it possible that the film was such a turkey that the studio didn’t know what do with it? Finally, there was a glimmer of hope when it was given another late winter date of 2011. However, MGM stated that since 3D was currently the craze that they would post convert the film to 3D. Luckily, this was an desperate attempt to try to get MGM out of the financial hole that they seemed to be in. The film was later sold in 2011 to Lionsgate who planned a 2012 release and now, the rest is history.
While some critics have managed to spoil the film, I will not do that because there is a lot to talk about the film without spoiling its twists & turns. Honestly, while most people talk about a twist in the film, the “twist” is actually revealed in the very opening scene. The reason it is a “twist” is because it is a spin on a classic story. Most of you reading this probably already know the “twist”. Now, that is not to say that there are not other surprises in store for you in the film, but I think that it has now been revealed. I tried going into the film as blind as possible. Every time a TV spot showed up, I muted the TV and looked away. This is the best way for you to get maximum enjoyment out of the film. DO NOT WATCH ANY OF THE ADVERTISEMENTS OF THE FILM.
There really is no point in explaining what the film is about because, well, you know what the film is about. Some college students go out to a cabin for the weekend and weird shit goes down. We’ve seen it before….many of times. However, The Cabin in the Woods knows what type of audience will be seeing this film. It knows that you have seen this before and that is where the film is unique. All the horror tropes and archetypes are here and the film is very meta in this fashion because rather than being a static energy, it becomes dynamic with the audience in how everything plays out. If any of you are familiar with Joss Whedon’s work, you can already probably figure that it will not be as straight-forward as you think. The film is a horror-comedy but in no way does it talk down to its audience and that is the beauty of a film like The Cabin in the Woods. Imagine the self awareness of Wes Craven’s Scream but subtract the character’s knowledge of horror films and the fact that Cabin actually shows appreciation to the horror genre and the films of the past and you should get an idea of the film.
The film prides itself on true American Horror. This is evident by other actions that happen outside of the cabin that I don’t really want to talk about because then I get a bit on the spoilery side. The film brings this sort of air to it that states “Remember when American horror was king? Those were good times huh?”. It celebrates films like Evil Dead and old fashioned – or maybe 70’s & 80’s – horror. Post 2005, the creative horror output was making fans of the genre turn to international shores, mainly French horror cinema. WhileCabin is a film that isn’t original in premise, it is original in delivery while at the same time celebrating our nation’s peak of the genre. Also, at the same time, Cabin improves on the archetypal disposable characters of the horror genre by actually building them with personalities and relatability. The Jock in the film is likable and doesn’t come over as a douchebag. The nerd and the stoner are actually friends with everyone instead of excuses or burdens. The whole group gets along and they are likable & sensible up until they reach the cabin which is when the chaos begins.
Screenwriter Joss Whedon and director & co-writer Drew Goddard don’t make fun of the horror genre per se but more of the character logic and decision making in horror films. Even then, it’s hard to say they make fun of it either. They almost give a validity to these stupid mistakes that you see most characters do in horror films. By doing this, they have crafted not only a film with a smart script but a film that can be viewed on multiple levels which will make it stand the test of time. Plus, the final act of the film will have most horror fans either jumping up for joy, laughing out loud or at least, if you are not enjoying the rest of the film, put a smile on your face.
I seriously doubt there will be another horror film, or maybe even any film, like The Cabin in the Woods ever again. While some people – horror fans & general public – might get annoyed or put off by what the film does, I think it is a breath of fresh air among many films that have identical premises and deliveries and if it was actually released in 2010, the majority of horror fans would still be talking about the film and watching the film multiple times. I know I plan on seeing it again this weekend. I think I can speak for the staff here in saying that this film will become a staple in horror viewing and we highly recommend it. If we had a seal of approval, The Cabin in the Woods would get it. The Cabin in the Woods is the horror movie that most horror fans have been waiting for. It reinvigorates your love of horror by celebrating it and that, to me, is something very special. Bravo Whedon & Goddard. Bravo.
We also have a post where you can hear from some readers of the site that got to join us on Monday to see the film and their reactions. You can read that post here.