As CINSSU is presenting a Halloween-horror themed double bill on Wednesday October 30th, one of which will be Cabin in the Woods, I will be reviewing this 2012 meta-horror film.
There have been many parodies, homages and meta-horror films that have been made since Wes Craven satirized his own horror films with the movie Scream. When the parody of a parody Scary Movie came out this genre started to feel tired and dull (though, to be honest, the Scream cycle itself arguably started to feel tired). Then you get a film like Cabin in the Woods, directed by Drew Goddard, written by Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard, that has a pulse and manages to be a funny, self-referential horror film. Parodying the slasher sub-genre of the “cabin in the woods” variant, specifically The Evil Dead, the film manages to draw in both horror aficionados as well as new comers to the genre. The film follows a group of college age friends who go on a trip to a remote cabin in the woods where bad things start to happen. Chris Hemsworth is the most famous member of the cast and he is joined by terrific actors such as Richard Jenkins, Amy Acker, and Fran Kranz. Each fulfills their role properly and is good enough but the funniest and, weirdly, smartest character is the stoner Marty played by Fran Kranz. His comedic timing is great and he doesn’t grate your nerves as his character’s archetypes usually do. Richard Jenkins and Bradley Whitford also distinguish themselves as a forceful comedic duo.
I myself am not a massive horror buff and was compelled to watch the film because of Whedon’s involvement. His particular brand of quirky humour shines through the film and all Whedonites should give it a chance. Drew Goddard does a perfectly good job in the direction department and arguably manages to cobble together a few suspenseful scenes. It utilizes a few jump scares here and there but, thankfully, limits itself. Although the film itself is not necessarily that scary it makes up for this with the fun factor. This is perhaps what makes the film most enjoyable. The writers clearly have a deep appreciation for the genre and the script shows it. The “slasher” bits of the film are horrifying to a certain degree but the film subverts the voyeuristic nature of the scenes in an interesting way. This is not to say that the film gets lost in some dry, pretentious deconstruction of horror films, it relishes the tropes and plays with them. Overall the film is really fun, insightful and deserves its relative cultural popularity.