The Cabin in the Woods – Art 2/5 Ent 5/5 Worth 4/5
I think I can finally forgive Joss Whedon for Alien Resurrection. I will start off with a warning: you should see this film before reading this review. In short, I highly recommend seeing it, and you’re better off going in without knowing anything about this film. However, for those of you who’ve seen it or seek something more in cinema than plot, keep reading.
This film betrays its twist fairly early, and from there it’s a slow eventuated slope into insanity. The narrative quite quickly reveals that it wants to play with horror cliches and the seesaw battle between horror and comedy bounces back and forth swiftly. Right off bat, you have the mere title (the vacation in the bush horror was recently spoofed most brilliantly by Tucker and Dale vs Evil), you have the Creepy Gas Station Attendant, you have the one-dimensional cliched characters. But then you have another layer of subterranean engineers seemingly controlling all of the hell breaking loose in the cliched characters’ horror story. In a gruesomely ironic twist, their deaths germinate from their own inner fears, as they choose Stay-Puft Marshmellow Man style from an underground monster exchange.
But then the subtext of making fun of horror cliches which is visualized by the subterranean engineers controlling every process and laughing at the results (almost including the audience) begins mixing into the ‘real’ element of the narrative above ground. One of the characters avoids being slaughtered and miraculously discovers an electrical box leading to the control room down below. After he saves the “virgin” from being killed by a zombie, the two discover that the engineers below are manufacturing their deaths as ritual sacrifice to keep the Aztec Titan gods below slumbering. So this is an interesting twist, but it begins as somewhat obvious and then seeps into another traditional horror story equally worthy of parody. It makes fun of one but not the other.
As easily as I’ll forgive Whedon for Alien Resurrection, he’s borrowed a theme from that film and the Alien series in general, that was in the ’70s and ’80s quite fresh but today quite overdone to a crispy, flaky char. That is the persistent cyberpunk theme of sinister futuristic corporations reaching a climax of absolute power and witnessing the fortress become quickly dilapidated at the hand of some cosmic justice, such as the fearsome Alien the evil Weyland Yutani Corporation fails to harness time after time. Here, a team of flawless ‘horror story’ engineers that’ve sacrificed thousands of stupid teenagers to placate Dis and Vulcan slip up somehow, and manage to let a couple of confused, bruised and shocked kids let loose all hell by throwing an unattended lever holding in all the monsters in cube cages.
So although The Cabin in the Woods is both hilarious and awesome, it shares the same failing as Tucker and Dale: its spoof is appropriate but its own coda is equally worthy of a spoof. Somebody make fun of the corporate bozo cliche, please. I imagine it to be somewhat exactly like the stormtroopers in Mel Brooks’ Spaceballs.