Cabin in the Woods is going to change the way we all talk and think about horror forever.
I love this film, it is one of those rarest of gems – Metatheatre done well. Self-referencing the horror genre in such a smart and sassy way that you half laugh at the sheer cheek and half suspect they are playing with an established aspect of human psychology. It is the total reverse of Scream, a film where the smart-arsed self references were so patronising and self-congratulating that it was nauseating. Ultimately Scream became a parody of itself, parading under the misconception of an original idea.
Cabin in the Woods is so refreshing and fun. At times genuinely scary – at others laugh out loud funny and all the time underpinned by a neat and clever concept.
I have wanted to post on this since I first saw it at the cinema but I decided to wait until I could do it justice, with a copy of the dvd in hand. But so much has now been written about it and there are such excellent wikis and websites out there to answer your every question, that there isn’t much left to add. But I do have something left to say: to the people who didn’t like the film.
Dear Cabin-In-The-Woods Haters,
I understand that you do not like this film because you feel that – in some way – it is laughing at you. You suspect that its humour is aimed directly at you, that you are in some way the butt of its joke.
This film is such a slap in the face to you, isn’t it? You’ve been mindlessly soaking up every teen slasher, with its obnoxious and two-dimensional characters: the pretty girls with the big tits and the smart-mouthed boys with their machismo and all the other clichés we know so, so, so very well.
You loved Scream. You enjoyed its self-satisfied and self-congratulating smugness, which you shared as you chuckled along at all the in-jokes; you gushed with pride when all the horror clichés it highlighted were churned back into the action. The mechanisms which it lampooned were such an established part of the horror genre, that they were indispensable. Right? Right?!
Wrong! Teen-slashers have been churned out routinely for the last 30 years with very little difference in plot or characterisation. Most of them are lazy pieces of cinema, made cheaply, with an easy pay-off which is sure to draw in the punters. Namely PEOPLE LIKE YOU! Yes, you! You are the reason 90% of horror films are bloody awful. You accept mediocrity – you ENJOY mediocrity because it makes you feel smart and you don’t have to use your brain.
Let me guess, you also enjoy Twilight? You like watching films which are about people exactly like you. Boring, suburban teenagers with their boring suburban lives who are suddenly confronted with a serial killer, murderous aliens from outer space or giant spiders.
You don’t like films that change the rules, you don’t like films where you have to think – because that’s not something you bother with, and why should you have to use your brain in order to feel smart anyway, huh?
Oh yeah, I also noticed how you insist that you don’t like this film because it is trying too hard. You state that it’s a Hollywood cash cow which throws every movie monster into the mix so that it can keep the attention of its goldfish brained audience. Nice try sparky, but you don’t fool me. This film is far too sassy for that. And excuse me, but anyone who holds up Scream and I Know What You Did Last Summer as examples of high-quality movie making is asking for trouble when they wade into the ‘Hollywood trash’ debate. Hypocrisy is not an attractive character trait.
Here’s the best advice I can give you: try harder. Horror can be an amazing and varied genre, like science fiction, when it’s bad it’s laughable but when it’s good, it’s amazing. At its best horror can be challenging and frightening and it can push the boundaries. If its dull, safe, predictable – it’s doing it wrong! If you need several gallons of blood and jump-scares every 5 minutes to stop you feeling bored, then you aren’t doing it right. Tune in. Pay attention. Use you imagination.