I guess I’ll start off by saying that The Cabin in the Woods is awesome. Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard took a bunch of horror movie clichés and turned them into over the top, ridiculous fun. From the start, you know that something strange is happening here, but you don’t know what. It’s a satire on all modern day horror movies. It’s balanced in some actual horror, but along with some very humorous realizations of what we as an audience are subjected to when we sit down and watch any of the million remakes and sequels of Friday the 13th, A Nightmare on Elm Street, and whatever else out there these days.
You’ve got the basic elements of a horror movie, five stupid young people go off to vacation in a remote cabin for no apparent reason, each of these five people identify with the horror movie group stereotype. There’s a jock (Chris Hemsworth), a blonde whore (Anna Hutchinson), a virgin (Kristen Connolly), a scholar (Jesse Williams), and a pothead fool (Fran Kranz). Simple, right? Nope. Why is the blonde pre-med? Why’s our virgin sleeping with professors? Wait, more importantly, who are these lab guys controlling everything? Why are they betting on which monsters these clueless people are going to face? Is it a game? What the hell is going on? Why am I laughing more at this than I did at Anchorman 2? All viable questions. The answer is, this is Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard, you should probably just roll with it.
I think this movie is trying to tell me something. Obviously, for one, horror movie stereotypes are ridiculous. These lab guys are what the wise “fool” Marty refers to as puppeteers. The blonde isn’t whore-ish enough, they put chemicals in her hair dye (yup, she’s not actually blonde either!) to make her libido go up. They use traps, chemicals, and different things to rig the system. Basically, they are trying to make a modern day horror flick, except it’s all real. But why? I’m not even going to get into it, mainly because I don’t want to spoil the movie for people who haven’t seen it, but also because I’m not sure how well I could even explain it. Basically, we get to watch a bunch of people being forcibly molded into their respective stereotypes while being persuaded to make stupid decisions they probably wouldn’t have otherwise made.
The commentary and reactions of the “puppeteers,” mainly Richard Jenkins and Bradley Whitford’s characters are some of the best parts, and towards the end…oh man, it’s just too much. In a good way, though. It’s nice to see something different in the horror genre, while at the same time, watching it poke fun at the clichés we’re all too familiar with by now.
The Cabin in the Woods is just an all around fun, entertaining horror/comedy. It’s brilliantly written and directed, the actors are great to watch, and it manages to break the mold of horror movies, while being extremely aware of what that mold actually is. Sure, we’ve seen plenty of horrible horror spoofs (A Haunted House, Scary Movie), but this is a spoof of a different kind…it’s far more fun and a lot less dumb.