Tales of the Rampant Coyote

Adventures in Indie Gaming!

The Cabin In the Woods

Posted by Rampant Coyote on April 14, 2012

I’m really seeing some pretty good movies in the theater this year. I loved the indie movie Unicorn City (coming out on DVD and digital download in July). John Carter and Hunger Games were both a lot of fun.

And last night, I went to see The Cabin in the Woods. At my wife’s request. I hadn’t even heard of it, but when she said it was made by Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard, I was instantly sold.

It’s a horror movie. Or more of a horror-comedy, I guess. It’s kind of a subversion of the horror genre. It’s one of those things that is very hard to describe without going into spoiler territory. The ads all say things like, “You think you know the story… Think again.” That sums things up. The core plot is – quite deliberately – a stereotype: Five college-age friends get together to spend a weekend of partying at a cousin’s cabin  by a lake out in the middle of nowhere.  What could possibly go wrong?

Anyway, if you watch the trailer, or read this, you are going to see / read some stuff that sounds like a massive spoiler, but it’s really not much of one. The movie gives away a lot of this stuff right at the beginning, letting you know that All Is Not As It Seems. This typical horror movie has a big ol’ global-scale meta-plot going on, with it’s own characters and dark humor. But while you know there’s much more going on with the meta-plot, it doesn’t explain everything. It’s the how and why of it all that drives the movie.  However, as the movie makes clear before the title first appears on the screen, it’s not intended to be a completely serious ride.

All I can figure is that these Whedon and Goddard got together and said, “Let’s make a horror movie that will beat up all the other horror movies and take their lunch money.” Seriously. I don’t know if they succeeded, but they definitely managed to subvert the genre while simultaneously adhering (and paying homage) to as many of its tropes as possible. Maybe the reason I liked it so much is that it takes a similar approach to horror as I took to fantasy RPGs with Frayed Knights. In fairness, I am a fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, so I’ve no doubt it was an influence on me as well.

It takes the darkly humorous romp through the slasher-flick formula with the assumption that the audience has a brain and at least a passing familiarity with the horror genre. It takes great pleasure in explaining why these kids do the stupid things that they always do in horror movies, like splitting up when they are in trouble, leaving a weapon behind, or … hiding in FRONT of a window. That kinda thing. But even as it lets the audience in on the joke, it still stays true to its roots. It’s a comedy and a self-referential commentary and take-down of the horror genre, but it does this without becoming a parody. Or betraying its genre – it’s still a splatter-fest. Blood, boobs, guts, drugs, screams, dismemberments, beheadings – it’s all here in full-on Rated R horror-movie glory.

But just where other horror movies end (literally), you’ve still got nearly a third of the movie left. Things twist around and then escalate, raising the stakes still further. All hell breaks loose. I cannot explain it further without descending too far into spoiler territory, so I guess I’ll leave it at that.

I’d describe it as having a bit of a mix of a Evil Dead, Scream, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Matrix, and H.P. Lovecraft. With bits and pieces of hundreds of other horror movies tastefully woven in for good measure.

I cannot recommend if you can’t stomach a full-on R-rated horror movie.  Or if you’ve never even seen one.  But if you have, and even kind-of enjoyed it while wincing at its stupidity, this is a movie made for you.

And… the trailer…

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  • Steven Ray Orr said,

    Glad to see someone else describe it as somewhat Lovecraftian. Obviously, it wasn’t a Mythos movie, but it kept brushing up against style.