Sunday, September 11, 2022

REVIEW: The Cabin in the Woods (live action movie)

The Cabin in the Woods is a horror comedy. I bought my copy brand new.


A group of five college friends decide to spend the weekend at a remote cabin in the woods owned by a cousin of one of the group members. What they don't realize is that it's all a set-up: their every move is being watched by a group that's locked them into a cliched horror movie-like experience that's designed to kill them. The only question is how they'll all die.

I'd wanted to see this movie for ages but avoided it because the spoilers I'd looked up made it sound too gory for me. Here's the thing: while this does indeed have gore in it (one character gets beheaded, a few get eaten, there's an elevator room absolutely covered in blood, etc.), most of the worst moments are shot with so little lighting that it's impossible to see details. The scenes that do have decent lighting have so much going on in them that it's possible to just accept the blood but not focus on anything specific. Deaths tended to happen fairly quickly, and damage done to characters wasn't depicted as being as painful as it could have been. Ready or Not's "pulling herself up with a nail through the hole in her hand" scene was more horrible than anything in this movie, at least for me.

For a good chunk of the movie, there are basically two stories going on. First, there's the cliched horror movie that the group of college friends are in. They meet the creepy guy at the gas station, see how run-down the cabin looks, and somehow don't decide to immediately turn around and go home. The group's "dumb, sex-crazed blonde" is helped along in her role by chemicals in her hair dye, and strategic uses of gas, chemical additives, and suggestions herd everyone into the kind of dumb choices that only stereotypical horror movie characters would make.

My favorite scene was probably the one in the cellar, when the movie still had the potential to go in a bunch of different horror directions. Personally, I wish Jules had managed to put on the necklace before Dana got everyone to listen to the diary. I really like the design for the "mouth for a face" ballerina, and she'd probably have been more fun to watch than the "Zombie Redneck Torture Family." The scene I hated the most? Jules making out with the wolf head. It was both too long and very gross.

The second story, going on at the same time, involved the workers watching the college group's every move. For them, this was just another day at work. They placed bets on how the group members were going to die, and the guys were way too into Jules' stereotypical sex scene considering what was about to happen to her. Viewers only gradually learned that they weren't doing this for some kind of sick kicks - from their perspective, there was a good reason why they'd set this group up for a horrible death.

Eventually the stories merge, and the result is bloody. The ending ending. I'm still not sure how I feel about it. There were a few things that could have happened, and I'm not sure any of them would have been truly satisfying, so I guess this was as good an ending as any.


Audio commentary with Drew Goddard and Joss Whedon, "We are not who we are: the making of The Cabin in the Woods," "An army of nightmares: makeup & animatronic effects," "Primal terror: visual effects, "The secret secret stash: 'Marty's stash' and 'Hi, my name is Joss Whedon and I'll be your guide," and Wondercon Q&A. I only watched a few of the extras and was a bit sad there was no gag reel.

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