For Reel

The Cabin in the Woods (2011)
May 1, 2012, 9:50 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Drew Goddard

The much discussed meta horror comedy The Cabin in the Woods comes, according to screenwriters Drew Goddard and Joss Whedon, as a direct response to the violent, cynical trends that have permeated contemporary horror cinema since the beginning of the century in money-making series’ like Final Destination, Saw, and Hostel. To attack these modern gore films, Goddard and Whedon have constructed a world in which a disposable group of teens are slaughtered by a set of circumstances that are contrived by higher-ups in an industrial complex. When the kids act too smart, for instance, their air becomes polluted with pheromones that will inevitably encourage them to have gratuitous sex. As a piece of genre criticism, the efforts of the filmmakers are astute and, if not necessarily revelatory in the post-Scream world, endearing. The necessity of the Richard Jenkins and Bradley Whitford characters – not unlike the game-makers of The Hunger Games franchise – is not merely to comment on the audience’s indifference to the violence that they witness on screen, but as self-reflexive substitutes of the writers, directors, and editors of a genre picture. Through them, the contrivances of the typical “cabin in the woods” narrative are directly addressed – the series of types (including the “virgin”, who will most certainly outlast her companions), the ominous gas station attendant who sets the horrific tone, and, ultimately, irrational survival behavior. Several post-modern genre pictures have made knowing quips about their own predictability, but The Cabin the Woods is quite different in that it is an attack on the filmmakers and studios that continue to produce such sadomasochistic monotony. Once Goddard and Whedon have exhausted this exploration, however, what follows in the latter half is an, if visually interesting, ultimately tedious exercise involving Gods, monsters, and the woman behind the curtain. Amidst all of the climactic carnage, it is easy to forget the initial intelligence that was present in the writing.

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