The Black Saint has a problem, a big problem. I’ve just gotten back to the mausoleum after a screening of “The Cabin In The Woods” and I am finding it nigh impossible to write a review for it without giving away some of the twists & turns that the film offers. It’s a really complex movie that is nothing like the trailers want you to believe it is. It’s almost like “Inception” for the horror crowd (And for the record, I HATED “Inception”).
I can say that the film starts like any other type of slasher film. Five people decide to spend a weekend at the titular cabin and the five of them fit nicely into the stereotypical “Kids being menaced in the woods” type of flick that you’ve seen about a billion times. The five of them are just what you’d expect they would be: Jock, Decent guy, Pothead, Loose girl & The Virgin. All of them do exactly what is expected of them & the film sticks very closely to the standard “Kids in the woods” template for the first 20 minutes or so.
But as they are driving to the cabin & going through a tunnel we see something that they don’t which immediately changes the scope of the film. Something completely unexpected by the audience and then things got intriguing. It’s obvious that writers Joss Whedon & Drew Goddard have something completely different planned for the rest of the film. Something completely off the well trodden path that countless other slasher films usually take. Once they arrive at the cabin, the five of them each have a moment where they fulfill their roles as expected. The jock & the loose girl hook up (Nude scene)! The stoner gets high & the decent guy begins a tentative relationship with the virgin. No real surprises to be found here, it’s just as you’d expect it to be.
But “Cabin In The Woods” has a lot more going on underneath it’s hood. It’s actually more like two movies going at the same time & while they are both connected they are vastly different. It’s not confusing but it is odd to say the least, the film hits all of the correct notes and fairly revels in making sure that it pays homage to countless other films but in the end none of them bear any weight on the true nature of what’s really going on here. It’s nearly impossible to say anything more about it without giving away the the plot but I can say that Bradley Whitford & Richard Jenkins play pivotal roles in the “Other” part of the movie. The part that takes some getting used to.
It’s obvious that the filmmakers had set out to make a horror movie like no other before it. One that satisfies all of the standardized tropes of the genre while deconstructing them at the same time. Perhaps that’s what bothered me the most about the film, it’s a bit complicated & really hard to figure out for a while. Once the big secret was revealed (By a “Special Guest” not listed in the credits on the poster) it made more sense but I question whether the trip to get there was worth it for me. It seemed a bit silly to me quite frankly. Different & unexpected for sure…but silly.
The movie is smartly written and I found myself surprised by some of the choices the characters made only because they actually made some sort of sense. Unlike the usual boobs we find in films like this, these five have some smarts (Although that really doesn’t help them too much in the end). And the last 20 minutes of this one are absolutely batsh*t crazy. I didn’t know whether to laugh or to cower in my seat but I was entertained for sure. I’ve never seen anything like it before and I’ve been watching these movies forever and a day. This movie surprised me in ways I never expected.
But that’s all I can really say about “Cabin In The Woods” without spoiling it. It’s so intensely plotted and so easy to lose track of what’s going on between the two disparate films going on at the same time that to say anything else would be ruining it for you. But it’s definitely going to surprise you. There are some minuscule plot holes to be sure but there is so much going on (Especially in those last 20 minutes) that they are easily & quickly forgotten. The end of the film is so bizarre and yet so fitting that I couldn’t shake it all the way home. It’s far more thought provoking than necessary but I guess that was the idea that Whedon/Goddard were going for.
I didn’t find the film scary in the least. Besides the one or two expected “Jump” scares there was nothing else here that scared me in the least. There is some decent bloodshed to be found here (Those last 20 minutes)! but you’ve seen far bloodier films. The film is extremely funny though, so funny that the audiences laughter began to distract me from paying attention to what was going on. I really think the film demands more than one viewing to catch all of the homages (Both big and small) that are sprinkled throughout it’s running time.
“The Cabin In The Woods” was completed nearly three years ago. It sat on a shelf at MGM as the studio went through it’s well documented financial difficulties. Lionsgate picked it up for distribution & considering that Whedon has “The Avengers” coming up next month & Goddard directed “Cloverfield” which brings a certain amount of cache with it, they should do very well with it, at least at first. I think that the film has a hard line straddling the fine line between horror & comedy that it wants to traverse, the same line that films like “Shaun Of The Dead” or “Dead Alive” straddle perfectly. This isn’t to say that it’s a bad film though. It’s just a really different type of horror film that is going to be remembered by all that see it. Whether those remembrances are fond or foul remains to be seen but I can say that the audience I saw it with LOVED every second of it.
I liked it but I was expecting a whole lot more of it honestly. I remember it being hyped as the “Scariest Movie Ever” when it was going into production. Well it isn’t the scariest movie ever but it is one of the most unique horror films I’ve ever seen if not the most unique. I’m giving it 3 out of 5 shrouds for being so f*cking odd & daring. In the end I was a little disappointed but that’s more because I know of it’s troubled past & I was expecting more from it. But what it delivers is so f*cking unique & just plain wacky I can’t dislike it either. See it for yourselves & decide!
The Cabin In The Woods (2012)