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The Cabin in the Woods (2012)

April 24, 2012

10/10 Funny Games


The Cabin in the Woods is about a jock, a blonde, a burnout, a token black guy, and a pure-of-heart virgin who go road trippin’ to a backwoods shanty for the weekend. Despite the ominous warnings signs that keep popping up left-and-right, they unpack, settle in, and get to partying. Then one of them gets curious, accidentally unleashes the forces of evil, and whaddaya know, their weekend gets totally ruined.

Yup, sounds like a “cabin in the woods” movie, and, no, that Verdict is not a typo. This here is the most significant, intelligent, and perfectly-executed contribution to horror in almost a decade. It’s also hilarious. I shit you not. Unfortunately, I can’t go into any specifics as to why that is, but let me try with a question:

When was the last time you saw a really great horror movie?

I’m not talking about the last one that made you lose bowel control, and I sure as hell ain’t talking about Paranormal Activity 3. I’m talking about the gamechangers, the ones that not only scared you silly, but achieved something truly unique in the process. As far as the last ten years go, I could count ’em on one hand: Shaun of the Dead, The Descent, The Ring, The Orphanage, and 28 Days Later. By that math, it’s been four years since I last saw a really great horror movie, and that, my friends, is weak. Different strokes for different folks, but as someone who really likes horror movies, there just haven’t been enough good’ns to balance out all the knock-offs.

See, the problem with shitty horror movies is that they keep on cannonballing into the same old pitfalls and/or keep on recycling the same old gimmicks. I mean, why are stupid people still being written into these movies? How many times have we sat through a movie only to hear echoes of “Don’t go into that cellar, yo! YOU GONNA DIE!” through the theater? No shit you shouldn’t go into that cellar! The guy in row six shouldn’t have to tell you not to do that, especially when no one in their right mind would do that in the first place.

And lookee here, y’all! It’s another “found footage” movie, only this time it’s with some dumbass teens who go vacationing in the ruins of fucking Chernobyl of all places. NO! Terrible vacation spot! Turn off the camera and go get ripped in Cancun with the rest of your horny teenage friends. Problem solved!

Serenity now. Such is the gift and the curse of The Blair Witch Project.

As much as I love horror movies, most of the time it’s just frustrating to love horror movies. The reason I’m saying all this is because The Cabin in the Woods knows where I’m coming from, it feels my pain. Back when I was in college, I daydreamed about writing a script like this: a horror movie by two guys who are fed up with horror movies. And it’s about damn time someone made this movie, because as the figures show, things haven’t gotten any better.

For as long as they’ve been around, horror movies have gotten all-too-easily written off as nothing more than blood, boobs, and cheap scares. And that sucks. It’s like how everyone knows Stephen King as “the horror guy” yet so many forget what a great writer he is, not to mention that we wouldn’t have Shawshank or Stand By Me if it weren’t for him. But by the same taken, a lot of the criticism is warranted. It’s a genre that’s grown increasingly comfortable with mediocrity because exorcisms make for big paydays and the masses will pay up. Granted, this isn’t a problem that’s exclusive to horror movies, but it’s a problem all the same. I don’t know what it’s gonna take to get people to start taking this genre seriously again, maybe another Seven or Silence of the Lambs would help, but we gotta stop supporting ones that are just piggybacking off the last big hit.

With that being said, this is a huge step in the right direction. It’s a brilliant premise, a brilliant vision, and it’s brilliantly executed by everyone involved. It’s just one more reason to thank the Nerd Gods for writer/producer Joss Whedon, and writer/director Drew Goddard is gonna have a tough time topping this with his eventual sophomore effort. And as far as the cast goes, it’s great across the board. I think the last thing I (or anyone else for that matter) saw Bradley Whitford in was Billy Madison, but I’m glad he dug himself out of that pit of obscurity ’cause he’s a freaking riot here in a role that I’m not at will to talk about. Same goes for the mighty Richard Jenkins in a role I can’t talk about either (why doesn’t that man have an Oscar yet?). All the teens are perfectly cast as well, but newcomer Fran Kranza totally steals the show as the guy we’ve all been waiting for to show up in a horror movie. The guy in row six knows what I’m talkin’ about.

I really wish I could write more about this because I could geekout something fierce, but I guess that’s what the Comments section’s for. Although I will say this: if you love horror movies and have been continually disappointed by them for all the same shortcomings, your prayers have been answered. Even though it’s a whole lot funnier than it is scary, The Cabin in the Woods is nevertheless a watershed moment for the genre. And regardless of genre, it’s hard to find a movie so astute as this.

In fact, the only folks I can imagine not liking this movie are people who have literally never seen a horror movie before, or people who actually go into this hoping to see dumb kids get killed in the woods again. If you’re in the first group, I understand; horror ain’t for everyone and this isn’t a good place to start getting familiar. But if you’re in the second group, you’ve got to be fucking kidding me. You deserve to be robbed of $13 just as much as those kids deserve to die for not sticking together.

Anyway, I’ve rambled enough and you get the idea. This is one of them gamechangers, simple as that.

58 Comments leave one →
  1. Red Georges permalink
    April 24, 2012 12:49 am

    Agreed. Absolutely loved this film. Not the biggest fan of horror, but like you said, there hasn’t been a lot of quality to really get young film lovers attracted to the genre.

    I absolutely loved Hemsworth in this. Apparently this was filmed all the way back in 2009, so he hadn’t even begun Thor yet. But I loved his comedic chops, and didn’t play the usual jock.

    For the Whitford, the man has been rocking the small screen for the past 15 years. He has slowed down in the past five years to random guest starring appearances, but he was easily my favorite character on The West Wing, and then teamed up with Sorkin again for Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip.

    • April 24, 2012 11:40 am

      Yeah, Hemsworth was solid, especially since I’m one of the few that thought Thor sucked. Loved the speech he gave before jumping the canyon. Classic.

      And now that you mention it, I do remember him being a show with Colin Hanks not too long ago, and he actually just had a cameo on Parks and Rec last week. Never watched The West Wing though (I know, sacrilege), but thanks for the heads up. About time I got my shit together in that regard.

  2. Sebastian Gutierrez permalink
    April 24, 2012 12:52 am

    I will let my review speak for itself, but, in short, you are correct. Absolutely brilliant. Defies every expectation that people have for the horror genre. Good day sir!

  3. April 24, 2012 5:28 am

    Mmm, I don’t know. You’ve talked it up well and even have me considering seeing it, but I can’t sit through horrors. They’re too much and I end up spending the 90 minutes with a pillow in front of my face.

    • April 24, 2012 11:42 am

      If it makes any difference, it’s not that scary, it’s actually more poking fun at the genre than trying to one-up it in terms of scares. Not sure if I should be recommending this all willy-nilly to people, but I say go for it all the same.

      • April 24, 2012 12:15 pm

        I thought the Woman in Black was scary. You should check that out.

      • April 24, 2012 12:37 pm

        I will! That trailer was downright terrifying!

  4. Becky permalink
    April 24, 2012 8:57 am

    I enjoyed it. I think the lady who left the theater saying it was the worse film she’d ever seen falls into the “never seen a horror flick before” category.

    • April 24, 2012 11:43 am

      Hahahahaha. Yeah, it ain’t for everyone, but I’m pretty sure that lady’s in the minority.

  5. Moose permalink
    April 24, 2012 9:22 am

    I was about to write how this is a good movie for people who hate horror films, because I fall into that category but LOVED this movie. But then I saw the list of great horrors from the last decade and I realized I loved all of those(haven’t seen the descent yet, and would maybe add the first Saw in there). So then I realized that I just hate all the terrible horror movies they spit out every Halloween where the cast are all stupid and things pop up at you every second(can’t handle that part, I’m a big baby). This has very few of those, it brings the scary with wicked suspenseful scenes, and cuts it perfectly with wicked funny scenes. Sometimes it somehow does it at the same time(kissing the wolf had me laughing as I covered my eyes).

    • April 24, 2012 11:47 am

      Oh MAN! Get ready for The Descent, dude. That shit will make you claustrophobic like you wouldn’t believe.

      And good call on the first Saw. Thought about including it, but the endless unnecessary sequels have really tarnished the original for me, even if it was awesome.

      Also with you on those terrible horror movies. Think it’s the cheapest, most unimpressive thing to scare an audience by having shit jump out of a dark corner and have some random loud noise blare over the speakers, and that’s what 99% of them do.

      And you’re right about that wolf scene, that’s the whole movie in a nutshell, and I was doing the exact same thing. And I was freakin’ HOWLING at the Japanese girls’ prayer circle scene. Brilliant.

      • Moose permalink
        April 24, 2012 1:46 pm

        Oh yeah, everything with the Japanese girls was hilarious.

      • April 24, 2012 2:15 pm

        Loved Richard Jenkins’ reaction that: “Fuck YOU, fuck YOU, fuck YOU, fuck YOU!”

  6. April 24, 2012 9:51 pm

    Ohhh man, is that the girl from the show angel, she was hot back then, too skinny now but hot back then. And is that the mighty thor i see in this movie? He’s the man too only i never noticed he was in this flick. But your right about horror movie repeating the same ol gimmicks but i guess since they do market this kinda stuff to the teenage audience it doesnt really matter cause its new to the young generation and thats all that matters to them. Money makes Hollywood go round -,o

    • April 24, 2012 11:13 pm

      Did you know that this movie was shot in 2009 and sat on a shelf until now because the studio wanted to make in 3D, but Whedon and Goddard fought to keep in 2D? Thank goodness they won.

      • April 25, 2012 11:24 am

        Do you think it made any difference in how good the movie was?

      • April 25, 2012 11:30 am

        Goddammit, that is so awesome. Thank goodness is right. What is wrong with studios today?

    • April 25, 2012 11:29 am

      Never watched Angel, so I have no idea, but that was a Jess Whedon show, so it wouldn’t surprise me. And, yes, that is Thor, and he is solid.

      Like I said, it’s just as easy to point the finger at the asshats buying tickets to these shitty horror movies as it is to the people making ’em. Folks should really know better.

      • April 25, 2012 12:12 pm

        I hear you on that, i never watch horror movies in the theaters and after the last Friday The 13th remake i probably never will. I just don’t trust it but as far as angel goes you really missing out man cause i tell you now they don’t make drama like that anymore. It’s hard for me to watch something twice and that show during its later years had me fixated. Just saying its a definitely not a waist of time.

      • April 25, 2012 12:19 pm

        That’s what I’ve heard, also heard the same about Buffy. Totally missed that bandwagon, but really anxious to go back and do my homework.

      • April 25, 2012 12:32 pm

        well that’s whats awesome about not seeing everything that comes out cause when you run out of things to watch you can always fall back on something else and angel is one of those shows. Buffy was aight as far as the last two seasons went but got nothing on angel

      • April 25, 2012 3:12 pm

        Awesome. Had no idea, glad to have a reference point though! Thank you much.

      • April 25, 2012 4:58 pm

        Anytime buddy, catch up with you on another article -,o

  7. April 24, 2012 11:10 pm

    Halfway through the movie and I’m going: this is it? They have all these “choices,” and they picked the lamest ones! But then it won me over because I went, Holy crap, these things are real, and then they brought them all out. Literally. It ended up being more of a thriller than a horror, but I loved it. Awesome surprise actor in there too.

    • April 25, 2012 11:33 am

      Yeah, it was a mix of stuff alright, but it all worked gorgeously. Love just thinking back on it and reveling in how they worked it all together. Can’t beat a horror movie within a horror movie made by horror fans who are tired of horror movies.

  8. April 25, 2012 3:03 am

    I’ve actually been checking into your blog every day for the last week hoping a review of this movie was on its way. I’m so glad you loved it as much as I did… not that it should matter, but it’s always fun to have company in enjoying something.

    I saw the movie with a really lame audience. They all really liked it in the end, but I was the only one laughing at all the jokes. The writing was good enough that they even made me laugh in advance when they were tipping their pitches, such as when we all knew exactly when a Merman was going to show up.

    Speaking of which, I agree with Red Georges, as far as Whitford playing my favorite character on West Wing. That enhanced my enjoyment of his character in this all the more. Jenkins and Whitford warmed my heart, albeit in the most disturbing way possible.

    • April 25, 2012 11:36 am

      Wow! I’m flattered! Glad to hear you loved it and always happy to meet expectations.

      The crowd I was with was really receptive, which is great, but I was too caught up in it to even realize the pitches getting tipped my way. But Whedon’s good like that.

      And totally agree with you on Jenkins and Whitford, they stole the show (along with the burnout). About time I watched The West Wing, huh?

  9. Red Georges permalink
    April 25, 2012 3:36 pm

    I just remembered that I thought of a fatal flaw that I didn’t realize until after the movie


    I think they might have adressed the issue by saying that the stoner kid’s readings were all messed up because of his pot. But they had vitals on the computers for each of the kids, so I don’t get why they started celebrating four deaths when the computers should be saying only three. Not sure how they just assumed that he died.

  10. April 25, 2012 11:52 pm

    Loved this movie!

  11. April 28, 2012 4:36 pm

    Wtf are u talking about …..
    I’ve watch every fuking horror u can think of ….

    It was a load of shit ‘oh this is blah blah blah ‘ stfu u goon , u don’t know shit and haven’t seen any decent horrors if u think this is anything other that a load of random shit …..
    ….ok let’s start like a normal teen college shit horror …. Ooo I know , let’s introduce this thing …. OooOOooh !!!! I fuking know !!!! Lets make it so that this is for tha gods !!!!! Fuck me !!! Einstein fucking material !!!!

    It’s a load of shit and any cunt that rates it don’t know a fucking thing …

    • April 28, 2012 6:44 pm

      And you won’t accept my comment on moderation , where as you know shit of the real core of horror films !

      I’m gonna look up your review of ‘hit and run’ , which is in on par with ‘cabin in the wood’.

      • April 30, 2012 12:40 pm

        Sounds to me like someone didn’t like the movie.

  12. April 29, 2012 8:52 am

    fantastic film and good review, check out mine sometime 🙂

  13. April 30, 2012 4:14 pm

    I’ve written an exhausting amount about this film already, but for me it’s an easy “best of” for the year to date. Put simply, Cabin is outstanding; put less so, it’s complex and layered and filled with great ideas and comments about horror cinema; it’s also one of the first movies of the year that begs to be analyzed down to its bones. What are Goddard and Whedon trying to convey with that final apocalyptic image? Are they crushing horror so as to rebuild the genre from scratch? Are they pointing out, with a visual metaphor for the wrath of the audience, the necessity of horror as well as the tropes and cliches that go along with it? Or is Cabin just a really, really fun, airtight, smart, scary movie for us to devour and enjoy?

    This thing has so much going on that I’m writing my own exhaustive essay on it.

    • Axel permalink
      May 2, 2012 11:15 am

      You ARE taking the piss aren’t you? Please tell me you’re not serious? This film begs to be thrown in the bargain bucket, not “analysed to its bones”. In the whole history of cinema, there are many films worth analysing, and I’m sorry to break it to you but this is not one of them. It’s self-referential, knowing bunk for below-average intelligence teenagers.

      • May 2, 2012 10:40 pm

        I’m completely serious. Maybe you should try listening to the opinions of others instead of writing off a total stranger over the Internet.

      • May 4, 2012 10:21 am

        I’m with Andrew on this one. Think you missed something, bud.

    • May 4, 2012 10:20 am

      I know how you feel. I could have written a goddamn tome on this movie if it wouldn’t spoil the movie for everyone. And great insight about that final image. Up until right now, I figured that was just a great, ultimate way to cap off the motivations behind the “directors,” but you’re right, there are a lot of ways you can spin it, which is so freaking awesome.

      What a great movie, what every horror fan has been waiting for. Send me the link to that exhaustive essay when you write it up, would love to read that.

      • May 4, 2012 10:28 am

        I’ll be all too happy to do that, Aiden. Once I get around to banging the whole thing out, of course.

      • May 4, 2012 10:32 am

        Haha. Sounds like quite the undertaking, I wish you good luck.

  14. Axel permalink
    May 2, 2012 11:11 am

    Can’t believe what I’m reading here, are you lot on drugs? This film was the biggest, steamingest pile of turd I’ve seen in a long time. If you like to chuckle knowingly because you ‘get’ a reference to another film in the genre, then you’ll probably enjoy it. If you want a good story, well acted, which hold the attention past the 15 minute mark, then look elsewhere.

    • May 4, 2012 10:13 am

      Well, seemed pretty great to me, but different strokes for different folks.

    • May 4, 2012 10:26 am

      You do realize that Cabin isn’t a movie that’s just based on clever, winking references, right? Referentialism is in fact a very small percentage of the total picture here.

      • May 6, 2012 3:56 pm

        I had a woman in my theatre who thought she was more clever than Whedon/Goddard the whole running time. Running her mouth with shit like “oh, a red button, well done!”. I think a majority of moviegoers are just dumb.

      • May 6, 2012 4:47 pm

        Fuck. That. Lady.

        Sometimes humanity just makes my blood boil. Sorry you had to deal with that asshat, hope she didn’t ruin the movie for ya’.

  15. August 26, 2012 7:04 pm

    finally saw this one. man this was lame city central.
    10/10?! okay, maybe there is hope for us not agreeing on killer joe either… lol.

    • August 27, 2012 6:43 pm

      Oh, Anna. You are killin’ me, girl. This is Top Five of the year material, maybe Top Three. We gotta find some common ground around these parts before you write me off completely!

      • August 28, 2012 2:04 am

        yes, we used to agree more 😉
        i haven’t seen much this year that made me flip out, except for ‘why stop now’. that one i liked a lot. and i also kinda liked the ‘5 year engagment’. otherwise, it’s been pretty blah this year. but good stuff to come!

      • August 28, 2012 4:54 pm

        I agree, a pretty blah year, but will check out Why Stop Now. Is that from this year?

  16. August 29, 2012 3:10 pm

    yes, i actually sent you an email about it, but you never responded! 😉


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