The Cabin In The Woods

Saturday, October 20, 2012

The 2000s horror revival has officially jumped the shark. Just as the Scream series killed horror in the 90s by making heavily hyped horror movies without any horror, The Cabin In The Woods seems to have done the same today.

I can imagine how this movie came about. The writer put on a brave smile to cover their fluttering heart as they walked in the room to pitch it to the producer, and sat in front of his gold-plated desk with sweaty palms and more rolling down their forehead.

“So what’s your pitch? I don’t have all day.”
“OK, you see, there’s this gang of cliched horror movie characters and they’re being killed off in a cabin in the woods, but get this. IT’S ALL A REALITY TV SHOW.”
“Oh, God. Reality TV is so last year. Got anything else?”
“What about this other one? There are ancient Gods living underground and this corporate cult lead by Sigourney Weaver are sacrificing kids to them so they won’t rise up and destroy all life on Earth.”

The producer yawns. “Lovecraft wrote that in the 30s. It sucked. It still sucks.”

The writer stands. He’s failed, he sucks, he couldn’t come up with a good movie idea to save his life, he’ll never work in Hollywood again. But as he turns to leave…

“Wait. They both suck, but… what if… WE COMBINED THEM IN ONE MOVIE?”

The smile returns, for real this time. What if the reality TV show was actually being run by a corporate cult lead by Sigourney Weaver who was sacrificing the kids to ancient Gods so they wouldn’t rise up and destroy all life on Earth?

“Wow, that totally makes sense. Why didn’t I think of that?”
“Because I’m a producer and you’re just a writer.”

And this is the big problem with the movie. They couldn’t decide whether it’s a reality TV movie, an evil corporate cult movie or a parody of cliched horror movies. The end result is the movie equivalent of mixing mushy peas, ice cream, marmite, bacon and mashed potatoes; all of them are perfectly edible by themselves, but not blended in one amorphous blob.

It starts well enough as an obvious parody of the cliched ‘cabin in the woods’ genre, but rapidly goes downhill, piling absurdity on absurdity until I simply can’t take any more. To give some obvious examples, if they’re killing off the kids for the ancient Gods… why not just kill them? Why bother with the whole ‘cabin in the woods’ fakery? If they need a specific mix of cliched character types to make it work, are we seriously supposed to believe all these characters know each other?

Worse, because all the characters are completely cliched caricatures, by the mid-point I really couldn’t care whether they lived or died. That is always fatal for a horror movie. The ending actually showed a little originality, but by that point it was too late.

It’s not a horrible movie, it’s often funny and, unlike Scream, I watched it to the end. But it wants to believe it’s far more intelligent than it really is and I can’t imagine ever wanting to watch it again.

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