Seen it all before? A review of “The Cabin in the Woods” (2011)
**Note: Apologies for the lack of reviews as of late been so busy with university work and preparing for the Brit Flick Festival coming this May!**
On the surface “Cabin in the Woods” (2011) appears like the every day, traditional horror film where audiences enter the cinema full of prior expectations. Joss Whedon’s pre-“Avengers” cinematic offer subverts the pre-conceived notions while poking fun at the state of recent horror and the stereotypes it has achieved over the decades. He critiques the run-of-the-mill horror movie in a post-modern context in a similar vein as his successful cult television series “Buffy The Vampire Slayer” (1997-2003).
The plot in brief focuses on archetypal, generic characters aka. The Virgin, The Whore, The Athlete, The Scholar and The Fool who take a trip to a remote “Cabin in the Woods” (as you do!) in an “Evil Dead” (1981), “Friday 13th” (1980) style. Little do they know they’re being monitored by a group of technicians who act as spectators for the horrifying events to come. They manage this through controlling the variables in the environment such as placing in mood -changing drugs to alter the characters behavior. The technicians also place bets on the unfolding progress of the situation in a tongue-in-cheek dig at the “Hostel” (2005) franchise as well as commenting on society’s universal obsession with voyeurism in the media through shows like “Big Brother”. Cleverly the audience act as spectators to the technicians who are viewing the potential victims which heightens notions of watching people’s lives for entertainment purposes.
In parts the film is fun and entertaining as it parodies the ridiculousness of overdone horror concepts and Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard’s dissatisfaction with the genre comes across well. The main issue however is the fact that these conventions have been challenged and satirized many times resulting in nothing new being offered from the film. The “good guys” are one-dimensional that it gets to a point where interest is lost on whether they survive or die. The expectations from these two talented writers was high and it would have been cool to see three-dimensional characters that the audience could connect with like in “Buffy” and “Angel” (1999-2003) as it would have given the film more substance for a compelling watch. On the positive side seeing Amy Acker and Tom Lenk in minor roles and the surprise cameo during the climax were a treat. The monsters looked awesome and genre fans were again treated to the iconic characters that make horror what it is. Its worth noting that the film was initially planned for release in 2009 but was held back due to the studios wanting to bleed out as much money as possible through showing it in 3D, its admirable that both writers/director stood their ground in this instance so audiences would see it for the story and not for gimmicks.
Overall the film is worth seeing for genre fans as it has its moments and the concept is pretty clever. The problem is it just fell slightly flat in parts and the cliches eventually become tiresome.
Hayley Alice Roberts.
**Off Topic**Here is some more info on the Brit Flick Festival 12th & 13th May: https://www.facebook.com/events/285059688204805/ including the screening of independent slasher “The Shadow Of Death“, for more news on the film follow @theshadowfilm on Twitter.**