(Well, very rarely do I walk out of a horror movie at all; I don’t usually have the stomach for them.)
I know this movie came out at the beginning of the summer and that this review is thus rather late. All my summer movie-viewing money went to that other little Joss Whedon movie you might have heard of, The Avengers? But one of my best friends highly recommended it, so when I saw that my campus was hosting a showing of it Thursday night, I jumped at the chance.
Here’s the premise of The Cabin in the Woods. Imagine every horror movie scenario ever: a jock, a nerd, an idiot, a sexy blonde, and a virgin brunette go to a mysterious location in the name of fun. While there, they accidentally wake a terrible evil and are gruesomely murdered by said evil (the virgin last, and her death is optional). Now imagine that every aspect of this scenario was carefully planned and calculated and orchestrated by technicians in a mysterious base with a mysterious purpose.
If you want more explanation, hit the jump. If you’d rather not be spoiled, just know that I loved this movie and you should see it.
It turns out that the titular cabin is the focal point for one of several such bases around the world. The people at the American base orchestrate complicated scenarios in which a group of five that matches the archetypes of The Athlete, The Whore, The Scholar, The Fool, and The Virgin move into the cabin, adventure into the cellar, accidentally awake one of any number of possible nightmarish creatures, and are summarily murdered by said creature before sunrise.
This is all done to appease and control The Ancients, who are somewhat like Lovecraftian Elder Gods and whose release would bring about the end of the world in fire and destruction. (The formula changes depending on the culture of horror in a country—for example the Japanese unleash a wet ghost girl with long dark hair in a white dress on some innocent schoolgirls—but the end goal of a ritual sacrifice is the same). When The Fool and The Virgin escape down into the facility and figure out what’s going on, however, they release all of the monsters into the base as they attempt to get away. This causes a bloodbath of massive proportions, dicks up the ritual, and ultimately brings about the end of the world at the hands of The Ancients.
(Like I said, spoilers.)
First of all, let me say that this movie is downright fucking hilarious. It is really well done true satire. It’s both an explanation for why people act so stupidly and formulaic in movies, and also an allegory for people watching a scary movie (where the hot young people are the actual movie, the technicians are the movie’s production team, and The Ancients are the viewing audience that demands a certain formula from the horror experience). You can really feel the latter about midway through the movie, when The Whore, The Athlete, and The Scholar have been brutally murdered, and The Fool and The Virgin are holding on, and you want them to die because you want to see the technicians succeed and The Ancients to be appeased.
The technicians are such perfect bureaucratic office people. They have divisions (Chemical controls the pheromones that they pump into the air to alter libidos, convince people to change plans, and make them easier to manipulate, Electric is in charge of the wiring that makes rockslides and power outages, etc.) and an intern. The departments bet on which monster the unlucky quintet will unleash first, and have an office party planned for after the ritual is successfully completed.
The lambs-for-slaughter guys and gals were also really well done, because it’s shown in their first scene that they are far more well-rounded than the corny stereotypes they are molded into and (chemically) coerced to fit.
Also, I had no idea that Chris Hemsworth was in this. And I mean, I could stare at Chris Hemsworth doing absolutely nothing almost indefinitely, but he was hilarious as the sociology-major-turned-stereotyped-jock and his American accent was great.
One small warning to the faint-hearted: there’s one scene with a truly gruesome and torture-porny murder (they did unleash the pain-worshipping Zombie Redneck Torture Family after all) during which I had to close my eyes. And yes, there is a lot of blood, gore, and violence outside of that, but nothing as gruesome. There’s also a really awkward scene where The Whore makes out with a taxidermied wolf head on a dare, and that’s a sentence I never thought I’d ever type.
But anyway. See this movie. It’s really good.