Title: The Cabin in the Woods
Genre: Horror Spoof
Watched: September 20, 2012
Summary: Gory self-referential glory! (8/10)
Joss Whedon loves his post-modern! The Cabin in the Woods is both a clever and moderately scary classic teen horror film and at the same time a self-referential reinvention of the genre. In short, we have the classic startup: Five college kids head to a cabin in the woods for a weekend of fun and are beset by supernatural mayhem. We have the classic stereotypes: the whore (the movie’s language, not mine), the jock, the scholar, the fool, and the virgin.
But from the start, we know it isn’t so simple. Some mysterious government or corporate agency (shades of The Initiative from Buffy season 4) seems to be running the show. The film — and even many of the characters in it — are in on the joke. And this, in classic Whedon form, is what makes for a lot of the humor. The “fool”, deliciously played by Dollhouse‘s geek Fran Kranz is a major case in point.
Jock: “I think we should split up.”
Scholar: “Good idea.”
Fool: “Wait… Really?”
The fact that you know the basic progression of the horror doesn’t make the “Redneck Pain-loving Zombies” (apparently, a totally different species from regular Zombies) any less frightening. But, for the viewer, the fundamental mystery comes from wondering what the hell is going on with the agency. Having seen all of Whedon’s oeuvre I guessed by about the 25% mark. The whole meta premise is a very Whedonesque one. He certainly treads heavily on this territory in both Buffy (season 7 seal?) and Angel (shades of Wolfram and Hart), but I won’t say more because this film is best enjoyed unspoiled.
The last quarter of the movie comes dangerously close to jumping the shark as it inverts the post-modern thing and goes nuts, but the production pulls it off with a certain zany pizzaz and just the right tone in the form of a Sigourney Weaver cameo.
The script is witty, with lots of good snark, and the acting is good for what it is. The girls are hot (the wolf smooch is a classic moment) and the cast is packed with Buffy, Angel, and Dollhouse returnees. There are some really good laughs in here, like when the agency crew teases a creepy old redneck with the speakerphone (you have to see it). Plus one of the zombies fights with a bear-trap!
A definite must for any horror fan.