SciFridays: “The Cabin in the Woods” (2011)

Baddie – Joss Whedon.

Lesson – Don’t get attached.

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Mutant Enemy

This is Week 2 of the pre-Evil Dead event. Yes, there are only two weeks. Yes, Evil Dead came out about an hour ago. Yes, I will see it tomorrow, so yes, you will have to wait until next Friday for the review. 

The Cabin in the Woods is one of my favorite movies and here’s why. It stars some of my favorite people, it’s co-written by Joss Whedon, and it’s one of the best homage/subversion films out there.

Enter the The Whedon Theory™. This theory was conceived after seeing The Cabin in the Woods, but applies to most things by Whedon. Here goes.

The Whedon-verse is an apple wrapped in an onion. Joss hands you this onion and says, “Here.” You, naturally, are like, “The…what? An onion?” So you begin to peel this onion. Slowly, you get closer and closer to the apple. And it is the best damn apple there ever was. You just had to dig through weird, complicated onion to get there.

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Mutant Enemy

Cabin is not exempt from the Whedon Theory™. Neither is Firefly, Dollhouse, Buffy or Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along-Blog. Some spoilers below, but it’s clear from the moment the film starts that this cabin is part of something bigger. Whedon expects the audience to accept this and move on. He offers pieces of the puzzle, but largely keeps the audience in the dark.  At the end of this journey, the audience is rewarded with an apple of awesome. In this case, it’s the bloodiest apple ever. Premise: Teens go on a roadtrip to vacation in a cabin. Strangely, they find a lot of strange stuff in the basement, and someone reads from a book. Zombies rise. Shenanigans ensue. Sound familiar? (If it doesn’t, go forth and watch The Evil Dead RIGHT NOW).

In the meantime, scientists somewhere are making predictions, and watching the house. There’s some kind of bet going on. Controls, eh. Science talk. I’m an art kid, what do I know.

***SPOILERS***

This is the part where it gets interesting. You see, Joss Whedon is not satisfied making a movie that plays homage to other movies. He wants to see how things tick. What makes them what they are. He’s interested in the behind-the-scenes, and he portrays them in an interesting way. I could spend this whole article writing about Whedon-isms, but I’ll refrain.

Cabin takes this approach – You know how every horror movie follows a similar plot? Takes place in a similar place? Features the same characters, over and over? What if that was on purpose? What if that was actually necessary? Joss Whedon wants to know, so he sets up what is essentially an experimental situation where certain character tropes must ‘die’ and be sacrificed to some sort of demonic deity who will otherwise presumably get cranky. The trick is the deaths have to be accidents/self-inflicted, etc. AKA they can’t just murder people. So somewhere, they’ve created a set. With controls, and props, and monsters. And on this set, teenagers do dumb things and then they die.

However, some of them bleed through the cracks.

Like, you know. This guy, wielding a thermos.

Mutant Enemy
Like, you know. This guy, wielding a thermos-bong.

Additionally, these endeavors aren’t always successful, and must be dealt with appropriately. There’s a little commentary thrown in, where the scientists have become detached from their subjects and start placing bets, etc. All in all, however, it’s an exploratory study into the will to live in an impossible situation. Also, it’s a shrine to the horror films gone before.

Again, I think this movie was a little underrated when it premiered, but I hope it falls into cultdom. Everyone I’ve talked to liked it, to my memory. It’s well done, honestly. Solid production value, surprises around every corner, and it keeps you guessing. There’s a scene where a girl is dared to make out with a taxidermied wolf and it’s the most tense minute of my LIFE. Like all good horror movies, the ending is over the top and completely ridiculous. Wait. No, I mean like all ‘entertaining’ horror movies. There are gallons of blood, and a menagerie of monsters (.tumblr.com).

You can play “Name that Guest Star” if you like. For instance, Bradley Whitford from ‘West Wing’. Amy Acker and Fran Kranz from ‘Dollhouse’. And Chris Hemsworth, because why not.

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Mutant Enemy

Moral of the story is go see this movie. It’s a good time, entertaining as all get out, and it makes you think just like, a tiny bit. The thinking is rewarded by tons of blood and horror movie moments that make you feel just so warm and fuzzy.

Incidentally, I also saw Jurassic Park in IMAX 3D and I do HIGHLY recommend the experience. It was truly wonderful.

9 thoughts on “SciFridays: “The Cabin in the Woods” (2011)

  1. After watching Evil Dead this weekend I have a new appreciation of how good this film was. Compelling characters and actual scares, who would think that would be an important part of the a film.

  2. Pingback: Second Breakfast: Brush Up Your Shakespeare 2: Much Ado | Rooster Illusion

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  4. Pingback: SciFridays: “Grabbers” (2012) | Rooster Illusion

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