Movie Review: The Cabin in the Woods

Whoa, she looks like Ellie Kemper in this picture... But that's not the twist!

I suppose it’s best not to ruin anything about the surprise of Cabin in the Woods, as that’s the whole fun of it.  So I won’t even hint at what any of the specifics are.  So in a very generic manner, I will say that this film starts off pretty mediocre, but eventually rockets its way to an insane and awesome third act.

The film basically starts off as a typical slasher film, with a group of the usual archetypes (jock, slut, nerd, virgin, stoner) all going to a cabin in the woods to party for a weekend (basically the premise of Friday the 13th, and everything that’s copied it since).  It’s expected that they will all die in there, the only thing we don’t know is how.  And that’s actually how Cabin in the Woods ends up being great.  It eventually becomes sort of a meta exploration of the entire horror genre.  Kind of in the same way that the Scream movies have characters that are basically commenting on the movie that they don’t know they’re actually in, only it’s less pretentious in Cabin.    The whole movie had a nice tinge of fun to it.  It’s less mean-spirited than a typical slasher film, and it’s a horror film that actually has an agenda for a change.  It doesn’t meander in a redundant string of cliches, except when it wants to… because…  well…  that’s the point of the film in certain places.

Honestly, I feel the need to keep it short here, because saying anything about it could potentially ruin the whole thing.  I know some people probably just want to look up what happens on Wikipedia or something, then say, “yeah, that’s kind of stupid” and feel good that they didn’t waste their time or something.  But the third act is so visually delightful, and maniacally creative that I’d laugh in the face of someone who thinks that just knowing what the twist is on paper gives them any real gauge of the entertaining mayhem that occurs in the last 30 minutes.

I wasn’t the biggest fan of the FINAL FINAL explanation/twist, but I can’t think of a better resolution at the moment, so I can’t criticize it too hard.  And it’s not really like a Shamalyan twist, with everything wrapping up in the last 5 minutes.  It has a very natural, well-paced, gradual build up to the mystery.  The final product tried to make you look at every horror movie ever made in a different light.  I’m not sure it 100% worked in that regard, but it’s an interesting concept nonetheless.  And the third act was done well enough to validate/justify the mediocre first act for me.  It worked as a whole in the end.

The acting from the five kids (including Chris “Thor” Hemsworth) were all pretty bad, but I get the feeling like it was a nice mixture of actual bad acting, with spoof acting to play up the genre.  On the other side, Richard Jenkins and Bradley Whitford (who I assume has been in many other things, but I will forever associate him as the villain from Billy Madison) carry the movie as two technicians of a mysterious company introduced in the first scene of the film.

And guess what?  This isn’t a found footage film!  And there’s no shaky cam!

I think any fan of the horror genre will really like this movie.  As someone who is always complaining that they don’t make good horror movies anymore, Cabin in the Woods is a welcome change of pace.  It has homages to so many things that horror fans love, it’s going to be hard for genre fans to dislike it.  And if you do dislike it, then what are you really hoping for from a film like this?  I thought it was pretty good for what it was.  And it’s funnier than a lot of comedies I’ve seen this year as well.  It never takes itself too seriously, and that’s definitely a huge selling point to me in a modern horror film.

And now I’ve already filled my entire yearly quota of saying ‘horror’ and ‘genre’ on this blog.  And it’s only April!

8 out of 10

5 thoughts on “Movie Review: The Cabin in the Woods

  1. Marcel Urena says:

    This movie was very well made in the sense that it was made as a mockery of the horror genre and that’s why it worked so well. Instead of just starting off as the typical slasher (what the hell is going on), this movie is very straight forward with what it’s trying to do, and that’s why I think it worked so well. You’re review is good and I agree with a lot of it.

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