The Cabin in the Woods is a horror film that was released in April 2012. The film was written by Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard and directed by Drew Goddard. It has a 7 out of 10 rating on IMDb and a 92% on Rotten Tomatoes. It is rated R for strong bloody horror violence and gore, language, drug use and some sexuality/nudity.
Let me just go ahead and say it: I freakin’ love this movie. I can watch this film all the time and not get tired of it. As someone that likes scary movies, it shouldn’t be much of a surprise that I would like this movie. At first glance this film seems like a typical horror film where a bunch of teenagers go out into the woods and party and eventually get killed one by one. But it isn’t really like that.
The film does start off with a group of friends going on a trip to the woods. The characters seem totally cliche, as in they are straight up stereotypical horror movie characters. The jock, the whore, the stoner, the boring smart guy and the good girl/virgin. The jock being Curt (Chris Hemsworth), the whore being Jules (Anna Hutchison), the stoner being Marty (Fran Kranz), the boring smart guy being Holden (Jesse Williams), and the virgin being Dana (Kristen Connolly). However, the whole film isn’t necessarily about a group of friends being chased by monsters. As the movie progresses we learn that these characters were chosen and manipulated to fit the typical archetypes of horror films by some organization to complete some sort of ritual. The main guys that seem to be in charge of everything are Steve Hadley (Bradley Whitford) and Gary Sitterson (Richard Jenkins). Another technician seen throughout the film is Lin (Amy Acker). The organization is in control of everything that goes on at the cabin the group of friends are staying at. There are cameras watching the characters’s every move and are even give mood altering drugs to cause the group to do certain things, such as reducing their intelligence and cause the characters to venture down the creepy cellar.
Back at the facility, all the different departments of the the organization bet on which monster will be chosen. From a fan of horror films, I like the references to other monsters from horror films that are shown on the big whiteboard. It’s something true horror fans will appreciate.
While down in the cellar the characters come across a vast array of items. We later learn that these items are the way the characters end up choosing their fate, as in choosing how they die. Dana ends up reading an incantation from a diary (Rule #1 of horror movies–don’t read some weird incantation/Latin/whatever out of a book) that used to belong a girl named Patience Buckner who was abused by her sadistic family and Dana ends up summoning the zombified Buckner family. The first one to die is Jules after her and Curt have sex in the woods (Rule #2 of horror movies–don’t have sex or you will die). Curt is able to run away. Marty, the stoner that has been smoking weed every second, is actually the smart one in the group. We end up learning that all the mood altering drugs don’t affect him because of the marijuana he has been smoking. He discovers a camera in his room and believes he is on a reality show. He is paranoid and keeps thinking that they are being manipulated, like puppets. He ends up being dragged away and killed by one the zombie Buckners. Marty is probably my favorite character in the film. He’s funny and like I said, the only one that actually seems to actually get what is going on. Curt, Holden, and Dana get into their RV and try to flee, but while driving through a tunnel it starts to collapse, forcing them to back up. Curt decides to jump over the ravine to the other side using his motorcycle. It is unsuccessful; he hits some sort of invisible force field and falls down to the bottom of the ravine. Holden and Dana get back into the RV and drive back to the cabin, but one of the zombie Buckners is hiding in the RV and kills Holden. The RV crashes into a lake and Dana swims toward a dock and ends up getting attacked by another zombie Buckner. But wait! Who just knocked out the zombie Buckner attacking Dana? It’s Marty! He isn’t dead! However, him being alive sucks for the technicians in charge of the ritual.
After Marty dismembered the zombie Buckner that tried to kill him earlier, he stumbled upon some control box and found an underground elevator. Marty and Dana take the elevator and discover a vast array of monsters that are imprisoned. Some of the monsters are homages to monsters from various classic horror films. Dana sees one monster (a homage to Pinhead from the Hellraiser films) holding an item she recognizes from the basement earlier in the film. She realizes that the items in the basement determined which monster would be released. Marty and Dana end up causing a system purge, releasing all the monsters that were previously locked up. This part of the film is pretty bloody/graphic. The monsters go on a rampage killing just about everyone in the facility. Hadley and Lin are killed. Sitterson ends up escaping into some underground tunnel system. Dana and Marty go down underground where Dana accidentally stabs Sitterson killing him. Dana and Marty discover a temple-like room with large stone tablets that have various carvings. Dana and Marty meet the Director (Sigourney Weaver). She explains that the ritual is to appease the Ancient Ones that live below the facility. The Ancient Ones are kept below by the rituals that sacrifice five young people that represent the archetypes–the Whore (Jules), the Athlete (Curt), the Scholar (Holden), the Fool (Marty), and the Virgin (Dana). It doesn’t matter the order that each is killed, as long as the Whore is first and the Virgin is last (the Virgin’s death is optional, as long as she suffers). The Director tells Marty and Dana that there have been other rituals around the world, but all of them have failed and if the Ancient Ones awake they will destroy the world. The Director tries to convince Dana to kill Marty and Dana points a gun at Marty, but is attacked by a werewolf that had escaped earlier. The Director and Marty fight until zombie Patience Buckner shows up and kills the Director. Marty pushes both the Director and Patience down below toward the Ancient Ones. Marty and Dana accept what is happening and then a gigantic hand belonging to an Ancient One rises up destroying the facility and the cabin, thus implying that the world will now end.
This is a film that might be confusing to some. A friend of mine, after watching the movie, said they didn’t get it all and didn’t like it. However, this is a film that horror fans will love. But even if you don’t watch scary movies, I think that you can still enjoy this film and even have a few laughs at the more comedic scenes. The film is filled with twists and turns. At the start of the film, you think you know what kind of movie you’re watching, but just wait… If you haven’t seen this film, watch it now! It’s streaming on Netflix.
Last tidbit…One of my favorite scenes from the movie is after the cellar door opens up by itself and Curt says that the wind must have blown it open (a phrase that has been said in other horror movies before) and Marty replies with: “Uh, and that makes what kind of sense?” Thank you Marty for pointing out how absurd it is for someone to say “the wind did it” when that clearly makes no sense at all.