The Cabin in the Woods

Sorry for the delayed update but I’ve been having problems with the computer I’m using. Before I reveal this week’s movie, I’d like to describe my reaction to it. I liked it and I disliked it. I found it twee and affectated. I liked the characters and was interested by the ideas the movie offered. So it’s kind of a mess but in a good way. I’m referring to 2012’s Cabin in the Woods.
There’s a huge elephant in the room. The movie features a twist, kind of, that’s also omnipresent. What I mean is that things aren’t what they seem in this movie and while the movie is up front about this, it’s not until the end when the reason for the whole situation is revealed. So now my dilemma is, do I tell everything that happens? I mean, the movie’s been out for a year. Get with it! But, it’s only been out for a year! So I’m going to dance around the subject and not refer directly to what’s going on. I’d avoid the comments if you want things to remain unspoiled because I’m sure the commentators have seen the movie.
Spoilers(ish) Below . . .
Ok. The movie follows a group of five college students looking to get away to the eponymous cabin in the woods. Dana (Kristen Connolly) is the Final Girl, Curt (Chris Hemsworth) is the brain, Jules (Anna Hutchison) is the beauty, Marty (Fran Kranz) is the stoner, and Holden (Jesse Williams) is the new guy.
It becomes clear from the beginning that something is weird. People from a vague bureaucracy are deeply interested in the outcome of this trip and may be manipulating what happens. Still, they pass the obligatory threatening hillbilly and find that the cabin is like every horror movie cabin. Awful.
In the basement, they find the creepiest treasure trove ever. It’s like eleventy horror movies collided with creepy dolls, old necklaces, puzzle boxes, and an old diary. Dana recites the Latin in the diary, after Marty dares everyone to go back upstairs, and BOOM. It’s an invasion by a zombie redneck torture family. So that’s it, right? No, because there’s still the fate of that weird bureaucracy. What do they want and what do they have to do with this?
That’s pretty much all I can say without giving everything away.
The movie was written by Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard, directed by Drew Goddard, and produced by Joss Whedon. I’m–I don’t want to say a fan, because I think he’s a smug bastard but I respect his work–familiar with Joss Whedon since I love Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I looked Drew Goddard up and saw that he wrote the two episodes of season seven Buffy that I like, “Lies my Parents Told me” and “Conversations with Dead People.” So we’re on solid, if supercilious, ground. The intent of the movie was to make a statement on slasher films. Scream it ain’t and I feel so passionately about this that I used the word “ain’t.” But it’s still fun. It definitely subverts the genre in its own way.
I personally like the aforementioned nod to the creepy warning hillbilly that’s in about 75% of slasher films. There’s also one moment in the cabin when Curt says that they should stick together. Then, within thirty seconds he changes his mind and says “We should split up.” I love that moment and I love Marty’s reaction even more. I also love references to Deadites and Evil Molesting Trees, if you have a sharp eye.
But then the movie goes and basically reinforces the genre. The main issue that is the sticking point for me is referring to Jules’ character as “the whore.” Without giving up too much (This is such a difficult entry to write), I get that they were trying to stick to certain archetypes, like the Fool, the Scholar, the Virgin, etc. I just really hate the conflating of a sexually active woman with a whore because the two terms aren’t interchangeable. Also, this may sound like I’m contradicting myself based on my sexually active=/=whore argument, but I hate that we live in a society where whore is an insult instead of a profession. Being a whore should be a job, it should be safe, and it should be sane (I mean, entered to of your own free will and in a state of good mental health as opposed to acting out past issues.) We live in a society where women are punished for their sexuality and elected officials spend time debating what’s legitimate rape. I can deal with this being reflected in the genre that I love and I can even celebrate some well-made movies that deal with the issue but seeing a self-described feminist like Joss Whedon repeat the tired canard but then act like he’s making some big statement about the genre is more than I can stomach. How about killing the virgin but letting the “whore” live? And Jules is killed just before she’s about to have sex with Curt. That’s a pretty strong statement.
Clearly. I have issues with Joss Whedon. He reminds me of the guy that shows up in every women’s studies class and says, “I think I’m a feminist but…” and then comes out with the most offensive shit ever. This is the guy that once said, “I don’t give fans what they want, I give them what they need.” Hey, maybe instead of reenacting your daddy issues, why don’t you stop and listen to women instead of telling them what they want?
Ugh, this entry is coming out so much more bitter than I mean it to. The movie is good, ok? But it’s not perfect. Fine but flawed, I guess would be how to describe it. For fan’s of Whedon’s other work, there are definitely callbacks. I haven’t watched Firefly yet but I can sure point out the Buffy-isms. This mysterious bureaucracy monitoring the cabin resembles The Initiative from season four. Also, in a scene with many monsters, look out for what looks like Glory’s snake demon and Xander’s evil clown.
Despite the way this post sounded, I actually enjoyed this movie. I liked the characters and was sad to see them die. Compare this with the jerks from Cabin Fever. I really liked the direction the story took and thought that it was a fun movie to watch. So there, I guess. Keep an eye out for Sigourney Weaver!


About scarina

I like scary movies a little too much. I thought I'd share my obsession with you.
This entry was posted in 21st century, creatures, zombies and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to The Cabin in the Woods

  1. Crypticpsych says:

    One of the reasons I write for the site I do is we’re honest in our reviews, we believe what we believe, and we’re not swayed by the general consensus. I don’t always agree with my editors though (Evil Dead got a 5 out of 5 from us a few weeks ago, I think you know I disagree with that). Last year, one I disagreed with them on…was Cabin in the Woods. My editor gave a 5 out of 5 on it, but I, while liking it, had huge issues with it (it’s why it only just barely made my top 10 of the year).

    For one, I get why the movie “needed” to have the archetypes and stereotypes, but it didn’t make them any less annoying. I grew to like certain characters over time, sure, but until then, they drove me nuts a bit. For another, people acted like this was a new Scream (for the record, I prefer Scream 2 and am not a rabid fan of any of those)…but this isn’t some game changing movie like a lot of people seem to think (if it had been released when it was finished and not 2 years later or so, maybe….as it was, it became a statement for the continual screwups of theatrical releasing). I also agree with your remarks about the “whore” character and the degree to which they played up the idea that she had to die. Just because we expect something to happen because of years of the genre doesn’t mean it has to happen that way…in some ways, it can be better if it doesn’t.

    The big one, though, was an idea that I also saw in the review I linked you to on twitter by X. That idea was that the movie claims its respecting horror but its unclear whether it is or isn’t. The ending can be interpreted big time as a statement calling for horror to be wiped clean and start over, a statement that ignores the good movies that come out every year and get crowded out by the bad. It wouldn’t be so obvious that that was the statement they were trying to make if Goddard and Whedon hadn’t made such mindblowingly arrogant remarks beforehand. Wikipedia has a couple choice quotes, pointing out how Whedon called the movie a “loving hate letter” to the genre and then made the following quote which sounds eerily similar to the quote about giving fans what they need that you referenced:

    “On another level it’s a serious critique of what we love and what we don’t about horror movies. I love being scared. I love that mixture of thrill, of horror, that objectification/identification thing of wanting definitely for the people to be all right but at the same time hoping they’ll go somewhere dark and face something awful. The things that I don’t like are kids acting like idiots, the devolution of the horror movie into torture porn and into a long series of sadistic comeuppances. Drew and I both felt that the pendulum had swung a little too far in that direction.”

    • Crypticpsych says:

      Also, considering all the allusions to how other country’s teams have failed to finish the job seems to further claim they aren’t just indicting American horror, they’re indicting all horror from all countries which, considering the best horror of the last 10 years has tended to be foreign, is utter and complete bullshit.

    • scarina says:

      Argh, sorry it took so long to get back, a case of real life interrupting my fun life.
      I agree with Whedon’s sentiments about torture porn & issues of punishment w/in horror but I don’t see how Cabin in the Woods indicts them. Maybe there are deleted scenes…? The closest I can come is that the characters had to choose their own adventure but there really wasn’t a figure that represented a torture porn character to me. The zombies just seemed like zombies but there was no Jigsaw or Dr. Heiter. And it didn’t really show any consequences of enacting those kind of vengeance/punishment traps. Sorry this is so short but you pretty much said what I wanted to say. :P

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