warning Hi, we've moved to USCANNENBERGMEDIA.COM. Visit us there!

Neon Tommy - Annenberg digital news

REVIEW: "The Cabin In The Woods" Is A Wake-Up Call For The Horror Genre

Berkeley Cavignac |
April 14, 2012 | 8:13 p.m. PDT

Staff Reporter

As "The Hunger Games" continues to dominate the top spot at the box office, it comes as no surprise that Drew Goddard's "The Cabin In the Woods" is expected to make unexceptional strides in its opening weekend, but it is a film that deserves recognition. Thus, it pleases me to write this article. I will try my best to avoid spoilers!

After sitting on the shelf since 2009, this innovative horror flick finally reached audiences at this year's SXSW Film Festival. Its reception was filled with buzz (the good kind) because although it seems like another forgettable scary movie, an ingenious twist drives its plot. If you didn't already know, "The Cabin In the Woods" is a commentary on the postmodern horror genre. It follows the familiar situation of five stereotypes (the nice guy, the virgin, the hunky jock, the bimbo, and the loveable stoner) who take a road trip to a remote cabin in the woods for a weekend of sex, boozing, and good 'ole-fashioned collegiate fun.

One look at the film's poster reveals that there is more that meets the eye; even the movie's blatent title is suggestive. Within the opening scene, the audience becomes aware that this is no ordinary scary movie. The group of college students are actually being observed by a conspiracy of scientists who can control and manipulate the world in which their experiments are living. (Think the gamemakers in "The Hunger Games," only these guys provide hysterical comic relief.) This part of the flick is a blast to watch as every scary movie convention is self-consciously parodied. To name a few: the cell phone reception dilemma, the run-down gas station with its creepy attendant, and the mysterious old artifacts left in the dirty basement of the cabin that give it an eerie history. And girls, you get to look at Chris Hemsworth ("Thor") and Jesse Williams ("Grey's Anatomy") for an hour, something you can thank your boyfriend for if he dragged you into the theater.

"Cabin" packs on the blood and pop-out scares, but behind these are plenty of surprises. Devoted horror fans will notice the film's odes to classics like "Evil Dead," "The Shining," and "Night of the Living Dead." Falling into the horror/comedy-hybrid genre, the laughs and the scares are perfectly balanced so that the movie can appeal to as massive an audience as it can.

As you might have guessed, each of the cliche characters are murdered one-by-one in the typical order, the blonde being the first to go and the virgin being the last to live. In the final third of the film, "Cabin" attempts to destroy horror movie conventions (like the "final girl") and brings back traditional theological roots classic horror movies used to have, suggesting that the five college kids are a modern sacrifice to keep the so-called "ancient ones" from returning to the earth. All this symbolism and metaphorical garb seems over-the-top and slows the film down at times, but taken with a grain of salt, make "Cabin" extremely entertaining and thought-provoking. If you suspend your disbelief for 95 minutes, I guarantee you will walk out chuckling.

Bottom line: true horror fans will appreciate and respect this self-reflexive satire

The jock, the nice guy, the dumb blonde, the stoner, and the virgin in "The Cabin In the Woods." (thecollider.com)
The jock, the nice guy, the dumb blonde, the stoner, and the virgin in "The Cabin In the Woods." (thecollider.com)
on the horror genre. The film may not truly scare audiences, but that doesn't really matter when the whole thing is about a game. Considering how desensitized and comfortable we have become to scary movies, "Cabin" acts as a wake-up call for audiences and filmmakers to demand and produce something better.

You think you know the story about "The Cabin In the Woods." Think again.

Reach Staff Reporter Berkeley Cavignac here.



Craig Gillespie directed this true story about "the most daring rescue mission in the history of the U.S. Coast Guard.”

Watch USC Annenberg Media's live State of the Union recap and analysis here.