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The Cabin in the Woods (2012)
Directed by Drew Goddard Written by Drew Goddard & Joss Whedon
We’ve seen the story. We know the clichés. But, has there ever been a way of deconstructing the Horror genre films that make it fun, yet informative for all who see? At least, thus seemed the basic premise behind The Cabin in the Woods and yet, not something that initially won me over; despite the constant buzz that seemed to surround the film upon release. Of which (at that) didn’t even come to fruition until three years later after completion. The familiarity between writers Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard coming from their years of working together on Buffy: The Vampire Slayer and maintaining the ability to have scripts written in a relatively fast fashion. Taking the same concept and locking themselves up for a weekend to divide and bust out the script for Cabin, they were torn on only who would direct the project (for a brief period), but happily allowed Goddard to take the reins; making for a first while in the Director’s chair.
For as any true Horror fan can gather, we are immediately familiar with where we’re headed once settling into the film. There are basic principles long set for how this type of script is supposed to be handled. Despite many saying that the beginning deterred what they thought they were going into, it’s not as though it takes them long for the title sequence to emerge, in which case you know full well what film your about to endure. The fact that you lay eyes on Richard Jenkins (Sitterson) and Bradley Whitford (Hadley) first simply made you aware as an audience that a twist was going to be involved in some aspect or another. Rushing into the introduction of the kids, due to a limitation of time on one hand with the element of ‘surprise’ being on the other. Having the Athlete: Curt (Chris Hemsworth), the Scholar: Holden (Jesse Williams), the Fool: Marty (Fran Kranz), the Whore: Jules (Anne Hutchison) and the Virgin: Dana (Kristen Connolly) making up our core cast.
Meeting them while at a rather good place in their lives as they decide to pack up an RV and head out to a cousins for a glorious weekend out by the lake. The audience once again privy to someone atop the roof detailing in their departure, making aware that the kids were long looked after by this point. Following them to a gas station where they meet an eery old man (Tim De Zarn) heeding a warning about the property they were about to arrive at. Causing them to…you guessed it, go along with their plans anyhow and begin to check out the Cabin upon arrival. Who cares about weirdos telling you how scary a place is right? Settling in as they make their way to the lake and the script begins to get intertwined with the puppeteers back at Control. Preparing for what may have appeared as a reality show at first, though going to great lengths to manipulate such a situation as we hear of them getting to fellow ‘contestant’ Jules by the hair dye; the ol’ “dumb blonde” soon to emerge slowly but surly. Making their way into a betting pool that has every department praying their choice wins, steadily becoming more aware of the rules behind what exactly we had in store as an audience. Of which the general rules laid out do follow through as planned (for the most part). The only one not buying into any of the Cabin’s mishaps being the fool, who pleads that his friends just leave everything alone once ascending into the attic. The many objects displayed showcasing the endless possibilities for them to endear as well as the outcome that was to be their fate fulfilled.
The winner coming down to Dana picking up the Diary that had belonged to Patience Buckner (Jodelle Ferland); solidifying the Zombie Redneck Torture Family as the villains of this tale. Once revived, the Buckner’s release a little chaos as we see the actual story start to emerge. One by one the small group being picked off and we see their blood released as though some sort of sacrificial rite. Leaving us with the Virgin (as to be expected) whose ill-fated attempt to escape is met with a rather pain induced match in which she somehow is able to walk away from. A surprise guest not yet dead, soaring to her rescue; though Control had already gone to the trouble to start celebrating. But cut short once word from the Director downstairs comes through. Leaving Dana and her savior to find a way out, leading them into a secret elevator in which they discover the real reason behind their presence there that weekend. Running a muck a slew of villains kept in glass containers that unleash all hell once able to get behind the operations and mastering a purge that I’ll admit, was certainly worth having to endure most of the before mentioned.
Ultimately bringing us to The Director (Sigourney Weaver) of the entire operation who was kind enough to have everything laid out for them in abundant narration. Stating in the tradition that acquired a group to pay for their youth so as to appease the Gods that walked the Earth before us. If not, suffering the consequences of having the world as we knew it ending. Every culture having their own odds and ends but the just being to forgo a group of youths, no matter the fashion.
Considering of course that you weren’t a huge Horror fan going in, you may have needed to go through that entire process of having certain things explained in such a long and tedious manner. Because I also gathered that there were a lot who found this film to be unpredictable. However I just found it a little offensive or even, insulting for what the general idea was trying to convey. Not needing some century old explanation of why these characters are puppeteered to maneuver in such a manner. Or that we call to some higher power that must feed off the blood of the youth in order to be fulfilled. I know what to expect when I go into these films and I also know that I like (and probably prefer) the aspect of these teens actually being so inept that they could ignore every warning sign given and not question what may be so blatantly obvious to everyone else in the real world. Don’t go and try to bring in a sympathetic point of view or pick apart the whole process. The only thing even taken away from the film is that if you smoke weed, than your one up the wiser. Was that the whole point of this film? Because it didn’t have any more of a happy ending; not that it should have or intended to, I just felt somewhat disappointed by the end.
Though the humor was what became most prevalent and in turn, what I remember most about the film. But as a true diehard fan of Horror, I could only find all the wrong within the script. A bit too obvious, it was. And despite the monster reveal and image of the purge when it first begins being a great moment (because who wouldn’t want to see a great mash-up between many Horror fiends) there were too many nods to other films. ‘Kevin’ from Sin City, The Shining twins and most noticeable Hellraiser, surly others if paying enough attention. It just made me wish I could see the real thing actually happen. But merely a dream, I know. Though the cast didn’t leave much to complain about. The effects done by David LeRoy Anderson & Heather Langenkamp were extensive and well thought out considering how many monsters needed to be created in a practical sense. The general aspect of the film was something that made it ‘fun’ for audiences but at the same time, I was looking forward to a new light being shed on the genre and not what I felt was received in the end. At least not for myself.