Friday, April 13, 2012

Ten Statements About....CABIN THE THE WOODS (2012)

"Hello?  Spam delivery here!"
"They're zombified, pain-worshipping, backwoods idiots."
"But they're our zombified, pain-worshipping, backwoods idiots."

1) Hope you like monsters!

No,'ll have to stick around for a bit, but if you're patient, this film becomes Crazy Monster Heaven.

2) I'm beginning to wonder if Joss Whedon, who co-wrote and produced this film, is one of those so-called 'geniuses' like Douglas Adams who has a limited amount of ideas and just recycles them under different trade dresses throughout his career. There are elements in this film that are either direct lifts or minor alterations from such previous Whedon works as Buffy the Vampire Slayer (especially Season Four) and Dollhouse. This in no way interferes with my enjoyment of the show, but it's hard to ignore that this is a story that has a prosthetic limb or two of previous Whedon entries.

3) Similarly, it's hard to escape the presence of The Whedon Day Players in this flick. Hell, one of the main characters--a character that you could argue is the hero--is played by Fran Krantz, who was the mastermind behind The Dollhouse in Dollhouse, and is actually playing a character who is something of a variation on that one. The only Whedon Regulars who seems to be playing a character who's actually a character is Amy Acker's Chem Tech Lin.

4) Since this film was shot two years and change ago (its release was delayed due to original producer MGM's financial problems), it's kind of a shock to see Chris Hemsworth in a decidedly slimmer form....doubly so given he's playing The Jock in this Archetype parade.
Ladies and are the real monsters of this

5) Of course, one of the strengths of this film is how gleefully the film embraces our expectations and laughs at them, twisting and turning things until we literally don't know what's going to happen next--and that includes that last twist, where Whedon and director/co-writer Drew Goddard pull the trigger on something we literally assume they never will.

6) And another strength is that the script plays fair. Every shock and twist is set up--even the one that leads to Hemsworth's fate is set up so early in the film I actually forgot about what he's about to run into until it's too late. And credit to the two for working out a rationale for the whole scenario and why it plays out the way it does.

7) You know, I haven't mentioned Bradley Whitford's Hadley at all. This is the best performance of all, primarily because at the core Whitford is a white collar drone just doing his job, taking what little joy in a horrifying job where he can find it....which makes what was, for me, the single scariest moment in the film work.

8) Here's an example of shakey cam working for the film, and not against it--the reason for the switch to that style of shooting, that everything has suddenly been thrown into chaos by the actions of our heroes and so many things are happening at once, makes it acceptable. Of course, the fact that Goddard still manages to make the important developments (including a hilarious payoff to Hadley's story) very clear to us allows us to tolerate this choice toward shakiness even more.
If you ever wanted to know what it would look like for a cute
blonde to make out with a stuffed wolf's your chance.

9) I also like how sometimes the script allows Hadley and his partner, Richard Jenkins' Sitterson, to stand in for when they mock Tim deZarn's Mordecai, the Gatekeeper for the scenario.

10) Given the absolutely insane little glimpses we get of Japan's arm of this operation (prompting Hadley at one point to quip, "How difficult is it to kill nine-year olds?"), I almost regret not seeing more of the scenarios around the world. Hell, we've got something like eight different nations referred to....aren't they each worth a minute or two?

Overall...even with my Whedon-wariness, I love this fucked up, clever movie. This is a fun rollercoaster of a movie--and even if you may not be on board during the first half's stalk-n-slash satire, I guantee you that the last half hour will have you grinning like a ghoul. Easily one of the better horror films I've seen in the last few months, if not a year.

I went to the Loews Village 7 to see this. The trailers were a strange mix of comedy and horror films, including Looking For A Friend For The End of The World (which actually seems like it might be fun, although I kept wondering what is in the air this year that's prompting so many 'End of The World' films); Chernobyl Diaries (...dear Oren Peli...stop that found footage crap. Please...) and Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter (another reason that my blood now runs cold every time I see Tim Burton's name on a trailer).


  1. Is it just me or did you get a Don Coscarelli-ish vibe from the movie? It just seems to me something he would have done but then again, I got a strong 80's vibe from the whole thing, especially the end where the filmmakers did what I didn't think they'd have the guts to do and go with the only ending that the story could have had instead of going for the last minute save.

    1. In that there's a definite 'everything but the kitchen sink' vibe, especially after the elevator ride? Yeah, I can see that.

      And one of the most impressive thing is how Goddard and Whedon give us an ending a lot of other directors and producers wouldn't even think of giving us.

    2. I was thinking more along the line that like "Phantasm" CABIN IN THE WOODS mixes science fiction and horror really well.