The Cabin in the Woods (Drew Goddard, 2012)

posted in: Duane, Review | 0

Five college friends go for a weekend retreat at the Evil Dead cabin and discover that despite being warned by the obligatory creepy hillbilly at the sketchy gas station it actually wasn’t a good idea to hang out and unleash the horrific evil in the cellar. Can they discover the truth behind all the bad stuff that’s happening? Will we ever see a moderately attractive girl make-out with a stuffed wolf’s head ever again on film?

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Hot necrobestial action!
I’m definitely more interested in the latter question. Free advice to Drew Goddard: make this your trademark. Every film you direct henceforth should have a make-out scene between a severed dead animal head and a (presumably) cute girl. Just thank me in the credits. It’s interesting how a reasonably unattractive girl suddenly becomes hot the moment she’s sucking on a dead wolf’s tongue. I really think we’re onto something here. I see franchise opportunities! Merchandising! Happy meals! Ok I’m babbling.
What was I talking about? Oh yeah… The Cabin in the Woods. Ok so normally I’d fault this for being totally formulaic, but clearly that was the intent from the start. I was reticent to reveal the “twist” premise of the film in my little synopsis up there despite it essentially being revealed during the trailer. So I’m going to try to be intentionally vague in my assessment. You have the stereotypical grouping of “attractive”, barely legal aged youngsters on an outing with the usual intent on drunken debauchery. We have the jock, the slutty girl, the nerdy girl, the token black guy and the druggie/fuckup. Of course it’s expected they will be picked off one by one. The clever part of the premise here is the fact that the movie is seemingly with the audience in observing the events that unfold rather than merely showing the audience. The point is, The Cabin in the Woods manages to poke fun at itself and the horror genre by pointing out the clichés and stereotypes that are typical to those types of films, while managing to not be too retarded or insulting about it in the process. There is no slapstick Three Stooges type comic antics a la Army of Darkness or Drag Me To Hell (yes, I hate Sam Raimi…. what of it?) contained therein.
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That being said, it does have problems, not to mention a few plotholes you could drive a truck through and It also suffered from  being completely overhyped from the get-go. If I had a dollar for every over-excitable tween blathering on and on about this film like it was the second coming of Christ I’d be able to retire. I read that director Drew Goddard and producer Joss Whedon were attempting to “revitalize” the slasher movie and provide critical satire on the recent torture porn explosion. I’m not sure that a blatant parody is the way to go about this exactly, and this doesn’t revitalize shit. If anything it’s a fresh take on a hackneyed and tired premise although I do agree on the critical satire aspect with all the aspects of voyeurism contained therein.  In fact I’d go as far as to say it has an even misanthropic social commentary in terms of people being useless pieces of shit that are only interested in their own hedonistic pleasures.
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Hereby proclaiming the slasher movie officially revitalized!
Back to the Evil Dead elements…. Did I mention that this movie reminds me of The Evil Dead?  I found The Cabin in the Woods to be heavily influenced by this and almost jarringly so. Right down to the failed escape/end of the road scene. The cabin is almost identical, even some of the events that take place are very similar. At times I wasn’t sure if I was watching an attempted parody of said film. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, in fact being a (former) fan of The Evil Dead I found it kind of amusing to look for all the nods and homages (yeah, so Raimi managed to shit out a decent film. Even a retarded monkey can approach greatness once in its life.) 
Also worth noting, all the shoes of the female cast in this suck ass. Would it have killed them to have put the cute lab girl from The Bighead Show a nice pair of 5″ black patent pumps? All these sensible shoes were a great sadness to me especially faced with such ample opportunity. Hell it may have even bumped up the homely victim girls to “meagerly attractive” status. It never hurts. (Ballet flats do not even register as shoes! – Nom)
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Now for the gristle…. and here’s where the problems come into play. : The effects here are a mixed bag of half assed decent to “WTF…. what’s with this shitty CGI snake?”, not to mention that a few of the kills are off screen which is a big no-no in my book. I lived through the 80s VHS boom with the scissor-happy censorship boards. Why try to make me relive that by hiding the good stuff? And here’s some other free advice to filmmakers: I don’t care who is suggesting it, but a giant fucking cartoon snake complete with close-up NEVER looks good. Why do filmmakers insist on taking shitty cheap CGI and rub it in our faces? It’s like wearing a shirt proclaiming you’re retarded and then jumping up and down in front of people while slapping yourself in the face. Smarten the fuck up. Nothing takes me out of a film faster than unapologetically awful CGI. Next time scrap the fucking snake. Seriously. Not to mention this has one of the worst endings I have ever seen. It was almost as if they kind of just gave up trying to resolve anything. Weak. Revitalizing the slasher movie, indeed. 

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In conclusion, The Cabin in the Woods is a pretty decent time waster… it’s brainless and fans of 80s American slasher films will get a kick out of it and will probably appreciate its unique approach. The shitty CGI doesn’t really rape your eyes until the movie is almost complete and by then you’re pretty much committed . It’s an entertaining film, hopefully you’ve managed to avoid the hype and you won’t be disappointed. You WILL, however, be disappointed by that fucking snake.
 

 

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Duane co-founded The Church of Splatter-Day Saints in 2005. When not immersed in film he's enjoying good whiskey, smoking meat in the backyard or thinking about sluts. He makes a damn fine habanero fire sauce.

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