Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Cabin in the woods

To begin with no spoilers, Cabin in the Woods is a fun and funny horror film. Its not for people who dislike gore and violence in general, as there are some slightly unpleasant scenes midway trhough the movie, although they do serve a larger purpose: they are not quite violence for violence sake as in some noted horror staples. If you have no problem with this, Cabin is worth watching, and I’m fairly confident you (yes, you) will enjoy it. One thing I would warn is that, at least for the genre savvy, the film doesn’t actually have the big twists you might expect. The premise of the film has been pretty much explicitly stated by about 15-20 minutes in, and while there are some fun developments, they’re not necessarily completely unexpected.

So, to spoilers, and a full and frank discussion in which I totally give away the end of the film. Cabin in the Woods follows two joint narratives: 5 teenagers out in the woods being slowly (well, not very slowly to be honest) picked off by some crazed zombie rednecks and some corporate drones who control every element of their deaths. The drones (as is revealed implicitly about 20 minutes in, and then explicitly around an hour or so in), must ensure that the deaths occur, and in the correct order, as if they do not the ancient evil which slumbers under the earth will arise and annihilate humanity.

There’s humour to be had out of the premise, and this film certainly has it, especially in the closing third, where the various monsters are unleashed on the facility via a ludicrously placed button. There's some cute shout outs to horror fans, obvious ones being the ring, evil dead and hellraiser, and I'm sure there are more for those who are more genre savvy at me.

Now, pretty obviously, the film serves as a metaphor. This is in no way subtle, and Sigourney Weaver's character is even called the director. The question is, what is the metaphor? The teenagers are the actors, not in control of their destiny, and punished for straying from the script, and the facility are the film makers- jaded and hammering out yet another production, determined to stay on budget and on time. But what of the ancient monsters. The most obvious, and possibly mean spirited interpretation is that the ancients are the audience, demanding the murder of the actors in the same old tired way, the same loop repeated again, and that to break that pact would lead to the falling of horror. But I wonder if this can't be spun in a more positive way. The ritual is a way of keeping the audience passive, sated but not interested, and perhaps Whedon is suggesting that while creativity and originality might destroy film making (and the studio's money), maybe it might make it better.

On a brief note, I think theres a pretty obvious undertone that all these projects are being sabotaged. Its never given who, but for all the projects to fail, and in such specific ways: the failures of the drugs given to the actors, the failures of the explosives, the failure of the faculty's defence mechanisms when the monsters get released: even the monsters getting released in the first place. I like that thats sitting in the background. I don't see how this film could possibly have a sequel, but it allows room for some fun speculation.

So yes, I would recommend Cabin in the Woods, and I would like to watch it again. I think that it would bear repeat viewing well.

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