by Caitlin Marceau
The Cabin In The Woods (2012)
Directed by Drew Goddard
If you’re ever browsing Netflix and can’t decide if you want to watch a comedy, a horror, or a commentary on modern genre cinema, then put on Drew Goddard’s The Cabin In The Woods. The film is a clear commentary on modern horror, but is a scary, creative, visionary work of horror in its own right.
The story follows five college students who decided to take a road trip to a—you guessed it—cabin in the woods. It’s guaranteed to be a weekend full of swimming, drinking, smoking up… and gruesome death. Little does the group know that their morbid fate has been orchestrated all year long by a secret agency that safeguards the world from slumbering gods by making a yearly sacrifice to them. A sacrifice that, unfortunately, takes the form of partying teens being killed in a remote location.
The Cabin In The Woods is a great play on horror tropes, techniques, and even effects.
The four characters are meant to be archetypes in horror: the athlete, the scholar, the fool, the whore, the virgin. However this film does a great job of subverting our expectations of each. The fool, Marty (Fran Kranz), is stoner who’s able to outsmart nearly everyone, and who sees their situation for what it really is. The jock, Curt (Chris Hemsworth), has a full academic scholarship. The whore, Jules (Anna Hutchison), is pre-med and in a committed relationship. The scholar, Holden (Jesse Williams), is a football player. And the virgin, Dana (Kristen Connolly), begins the film having just been dumped by the professor she had a sexual relationship with. Even the agents who are trying to kill them are given personalities that the audience quickly grows to love. They’re no longer shadow agents for a nameless organization, but characters we can sympathize with and even relate to.
One of the most impressive elements of this film is its expansive collection of monsters. While the death of the college kids is preordained, how they die is ultimately up to them since they inadvertently summon the monster that kills them. There are over 60 monster types in the movie, with most of them paying homage to famous horror media. They used mostly practical effects in order to create these beasts, although some CG was needed to fill empty spots during the final monster free-for-all.
An amazing horror commentary, and a great horror film in its own right, The Cabin In The Woods is a must-see this Halloween season.