Here’s something that’s been weighing on my mind: it shocks me that Cabin In The Woods doesn’t have a much stronger following and I genuinely cannot come up with a reason for its lack of one. I saw it twice in theaters and have watched it 3 times since it’s been an instant watch on Netflix. I LOVED it during the first viewing and have found that even after a few more, it totally holds up. The thing about it is that it’s fun and at times hilarious, while at others, really scary. It’s a must-see for fans of the horror genre, like myself, while others who could take or leave horror will also enjoy it.
Longtime lovers of scary movies like me can appreciate all of the clever shout-outs to horror flicks of old. In fact, Cabin In The Woods is kind of a tribute to the whole horror genre. Writers Josh Whedon and Drew Goddard take every cliche and stereotype we’ve come to associate with scary movies and puts them all together AND supply a fun and interesting explanation for them. They very smartly and creatively find a way to BOTH strictly follow the formula and make something completely original. They somehow manage to make a horror flick that is every bit a generic horror flick, that is like every other horror flick ever made, while, simultaneously, taking that seemingly generic premise and using it to disassemble and reconfigure the formula we’ve seen in horror flicks since the spawn of the genre. This film is so much more than a zombie movie or a slasher flick or even a supernatural story. It is everything all at once. And IT WORKS. It even has some social relevance while still managing to never take itself too seriously. In all honesty, I think it’s kind of perfect.
The acting is mostly good (I say mostly because there is one actor whose performance is slightly sub par – but hers is the ONLY one), good enough, in fact, to give these stereotypical characters surprising depth. Like every other aspect of this film, they are two things at once: the cliched caricatures we’re used to seeing in scary movies and very much, well, not. And in addition to the scary stuff, which is often pretty scary, there’s an abundance of excellent humor that lightens it up. For this reason alone, it is definitely a crossover film: it appeals to fans of the horror genre and those who usually shy away from it. There’s eye candy for all (I could make a sandwich with Chris Hemsworth and Jesse Williams) and even one completely awesome cameo by a woman who has become an icon in the sci-fi world. Like I said, perfect.
There’s also a big, big, big, big surprise ending that, for me, sets it apart from damn near every other film (horror or otherwise) I’ve seen. It takes a lot of balls to end a movie in such a way and for that, kudos to Whedon and Goddard. I’ve read that before the first screening, Whedon told the audience something like, “Enjoy it and then keep it to yourself.” Because it’s very much like Fight Club in this way; the first, second and third rules about Cabin In The Woods are: You don’t talk about Cabin In The Woods. To be less vague and disclose any more detail than I already have is to rob you of the sheer joy you’ll feel when you realize that this film is irrevocably and unapologetically going balls-to-the-wall, batshit bonkers. This moment first shows itself in a scene in the second act that I call “The Purge” which is quite possibly the coolest fucking scene in any scary movie, EVER. As well as frightening and funny and thrilling and wildly fun in a shit-yourself giddy kind of way all at the same time. Which is in itself a rarity in any film and even more rare, is that I could use that same sentence to describe the movie itself.
If you’re a fan of horror flicks, you have to watch this. If you’re not, you still should watch it because whether you care about all the details that pay homage to the genre or not, Cabin In The Woods is one wicked fun ride.