Modern Day Horror Classic: The Cabin in the Woods

Note: As part of my countdown to Halloween in 2018, I decided to review a number of films that I considered to be modern horror classics.  Four years later, I think there would be some changes I would make, but The Cabin in the Woods was incredibly unique and horror fans couldn't stop talking about it.  Since it was released, there have been other films that may have lasted longer in the conversation of cinematic horror, but I still believe this film deserves to be included here.

Original Review

 In April of 2012 a movie entered theatres without me really knowing much about it, but it didn't take long to understand that there was an incredible buzz surrounding it after its opening weekend.  I overheard many a conversation about The Cabin in the Woods, with people singing high praise.  I didn't see it, and then forgot all about it until a friend intervened in my life and set me straight by getting me to view this film.

The movie follows five college students who head out for a weekend excursion to the new vacation home of a cousin.  Their destination turns out to be a very run down and old cabin in the woods (hey, isn't that the title?).  It doesn't take long before everything to turn into a mess as they find themselves trying to have to survive against ghoulish creatures.  However, it turns out there is much more to the equation.

I cannot say much more about the plot.  It is incredibly unique, and brings an entirely new premise to what would be an over-done story.  While it would be an enjoyable film for almost who would watch such a movie, it is true horror fans that will get the most from The Cabin in the Woods.  Script writers Joss Whedon and Drew Godard (who also directed it) insert so many brilliant easter eggs as they play on dozens of tropes of the genre.  The greater your knowledge of horror and its history, the more you will get out of this film.  This is something that is made by fans for fans, while taking genre staples to new levels.

The casting of the film is really well done, with everyone involved hitting every note they need to.  Dana is our main character, played by Kristen Connolly who would most likely be known for being in television shows As The World Turns and House of Cards.  Anna Hutchinson plays Dana's friend Jules, with her boyfriend Curt played by Chris Hemsworth (an actor who doesn't seem to get enough recognition for his diverse talents).  New to the group is Holden (Jessie Williams from Grey's Anatomy), who is a possible hook-up for Dana.  And, of course, there is a stoner.  Marty is played by Fran Kranz, a character that enjoys spending time with a bong.  A pot head is used in many horror movies, and that is the reason for this character.  The fun part of the film is that it plays with the other four from the group to hit on the other character types that seem to be in ninety five percent of slashers.

Humour is abundant, with the character of Marty doing most of the heavy lifting.  I can't say what their roles in the film is, but the brilliant duo of Hadley (Bradley Whitford) and Sitterson (Richard Jenkins) bring continuous entertainment and joy to the viewer.  You may not be familiar with their names, but if you saw either of these incredible actors I'm sure you would recognize them.  They are both on fire each scene they are in, and, after seeing this, I can't help but wish they were both in mainstream stuff more often.

Because this is a horror film, be it even a self aware and comical film (it takes the self awareness from movies like Scream to an entirely new level), there are villains, kills, and blood.  Drew Goddard may not be able to get the same sort of suspense that a straightforward horror could mine, but that doesn't stop him from making intense scenes that are well paced and entertaining.  I should warn people that there is some gore in here and more blood than I could think possible.

Apparently, Goddard and Whedon wrote this script in just a few days and part of the purpose was to make a commentary on the rising sub-genre referred to as 'torture porn.'  Director Eli Roth's film Hostel was one of the early examples, followed by Saw (which is viewed as torture porn, but the original film had very little of that in it).  Many people have disdain for torture porn, as in many cases the only reason for these movies is to show people getting subjected to brutal acts.  When the full concept of the film is revealed, it is quite interesting just how Goddard and Whedon addressed the issue.

With a rumoured budget of $30 million, The Cabin in the Woods didn't set the box office on fire, as it only took in $66 million world wide.  When it comes to classic movies, however, financials seldom tell the true story of their impact.  With The Cabin in the Woods there is a film that absolutely tickled the fancies of critics (it is at 91% on Rotten Tomatoes) and genre fans alike.  With certain types of film, especially genres like horror and science fiction, there are movies that fans will hold on tightly to, even if they are forgotten by the world a year after their release.  The Cabin in the Woods is a movie that will be continually making the rounds in horror circles for years, and probably decades, to come.  It may be a horror without legitimate scares, but it is the smarts behind it, as well as the execution, that solidify The Cabin in the Woods as a horror classic.

Rating - 3.5 out of 4 stars