I know what you’re thinking. Cabin in the Woods, sounds like your stereotypical horror film with those annoying Jocks and cheerleaders you wish you could beat repeatedly with a chair. Along with the half-witted killer who is most likely a long lost relative of Michael Myer’s who didn’t get enough milk in his coffee when he was a kid or whatever. And of course throw in the virginal girl who will sooner or later give in and let Timmy go the whole way. Well, you would be half right.
Cabin in the woods contains the basic horror foundations that are required for any scary film such as the stoner, jock, cheerleader, virgin and the geek and the scary location. However it also breaks the mould in terms of your typical horror structure that we find rinsed and repeated time after time. Honestly why is there such a need for all these remakes and sequels? Do we really need to see Chucky with his wife and raising his children like the Brady Bunch. Or find out why Freddy Krueger liked to play with matches so much? It all boils down to money and of course lack of imagination. Horror at its truest form is about not only frightening your audience but surprising them and leaving them with questions long after the movie is over. Cabin in the Woods does just that.
When first viewing I was sceptical and half expecting a cheap version of some killer perving on teenagers as their shacking up then eventually hacking them up. The story begins with five teenagers who – big surprise – stay at a cabin in the woods for the weekend. All of them find themselves in the basement unaware of hidden cameras everywhere (dirtbags, I know) and find various artifacts. The twist is each of these objects will decide their fate and who they will have to battle whether it is zombies, Hellraiser style demons, vampires, werewolves and yes even a merman. Behind the cameras is a team of technicians who set this up and attempt to ensure each teenager dies by releasing these beasts in order to ensure the “dark gods” below receive their blood sacrifice and do not rise. Sounds like your standard nine to five office job.
This operation is worldwide with various other countries such as Japan terrorising little girls with a poltergeist which springs to mind the film 1984 in a “we’re watching you” big brother style and the concept of free will is called into question. In each scene the other members continuously attract trouble such as splitting up from the group or reading mysterious Latin curse books much to the stoner character’s dismay and warnings. He does have a point. Chanting witch hex books and playing with Hellraiser demon boxes is really going to end well. Why not invite the evil entities over for a cup of tea and a healthy game of monopoly? It would be way easier and save time.
Cabin in the Woods was produced and co-written by Joss Whedon with Drew Goddard who also directed it then later released it on April Friday 13th in the United States. The film itself could be compared to the Scream horror sequels by Wes Craven as it questions the dimensions of the typical scary movie. Whedon admits that this film was part of his and Goddard’s attempt to reinvent horror films and bring new life into the genre without your usual sadistic “torture porn” that is so commonly found in the horror of today. Whedon also wrote/directed the Buffy the Vampire TV series (along with other projects such as Firefly, Dollhouse, Serenity) that aired in 1997 and is also directing the Avengers movie which I think comes out this week. Cabin in the Woods is similar to Buffy in that it also contains supernatural aspects also and a cast so awesome you wish you could have a beer with them. They battle a variety of vampires/demons each week and yet still have time to study for that important history exam.
The reason Joss Whedon’s various creations are so successful is that we can all can relate with the cast. As he not only combines comedy with supernatural/fantasy themes in his projects but usually focuses on the social outcasts overcoming the impossible. A prime example of this would be Buffy stopping the end of the world on a day to day basis without even breaking a sweat. All in a day’s work I spose. Cabin in the Woods has all these elements and more, so dust off your sneakers and go down to the woods today – I’m sure you’ll be in for a big surprise.