A horror movie is rarely something that receives widespread critical acclaim, often these films fall heavily into genre stereotypes and often become rediscovered years later after being relegated to multiple movie DVD packs and what not, this is particularly the case with films like Carnival of Souls and Island of Lost Souls. However, what then happens if a horror film comes along and messes with the entire concept and fabrication of a genre. Well, the recent release of Cabin in the Woods answers this question for us…it results in widespread critical acclaim and what has proved most certainly to be the most fun and funniest movie going experience since seeing Inglorious Basterds. This pastiche of various horror films is quickly realized as you can easily pick out the influences of Haneke, Hitchcock and Miike with little trouble, yet it is the overarching commentary on creating a false reality for individuals to exist in, only furthered by the fact that their world is anything but welcoming. Ultimately, Cabin in the Woods lies near perfectly between being an absolutely dread inducing movie and something that is hilariously scathing in its social criticism. I am quite certain that when I compile my favorite movies of this year come December that this is likely to make the cut…for a Hollywood horror film it is something quite spectacular.
Cabin in the Woods focuses on a group of what appear to be scientists engineering a horrorscape for a set of unsuspecting teens travelling to none other than a cabin in some woods. The group includes all the necessary characters for the film, a brutish jock who demands respect by his actions alone, and his promiscuous girlfriend who spends most of her time scantily clad. There is also the pothead whose humor is his sole saving grace and is clearly kept around to mock. Finally the group also includes the intellectual guy who continually questions the validity of terrible actions, as well as the vestal virgin who agrees with the intellectual on how terrible the bad decisions end up being. This group is placed under the watchful eyes of the various scientists through cameras microphones and what not and continually place pheromones and other chemicals in the air to affect the decisions of the teens. The scientist, having a bit of fun, even agree to bet on which form of monster the teens will choose, which is decided once they enter a den full of various items ranging from film reels to music boxes. It is in the reading or commenting on one of these items that a nightmare is brought to life and begins attacking the teens. The teens are in a losing situation, because the scientist have the power to control every aspect of the forest, including blocking exits and causing the group to unwillingly split up. All of this is done, as we come to realize, to satiate some ancient demons living in the depths of the earth, who will destroy the world should their bloodlust not be met. However, the stoner catches on and realizes it is a puppet show of sorts, after the death of a handful of other characters, and begins to fight against the machine. This results in their entering into the science facility and causing the other nightmarish monsters to be realeased wreaking havoc on the entire facility. Viewers are provided with a literal pandemonium of creatures ranging from rather silly giant insects to very disturbing faceless murderers. Ultimately, the releasing of the creatures causes the sacrifice to fail and the ancient demons rebel. We are left to assume that everything is ended and are not quite sure what to make of the film as viewers. I know this description seems like a lot, however, it is a profoundly complex movie that masks itself as something fun and simple.
Something like Cabin in the Woods can be appreciated solely for its post-modern approach to the genre in that it is more of a hodgepodge of a directors favorite films than anything else, however, to simply call it this would be to seriously undervalue it as a social statement. While the terms in the film are grandiose, as is clearly the case with the notion of ancient demons, they nonetheless help to analyze our societies obsession with reality television in its various forms. It is important to note that the first year of Real World was severely underviewed because people were disinterested in seeing daily life simply existing. However, once the show began depicting fights and confrontations more frequently it became one of MTV’s most viewed programs for well over a decade. We as viewers desire visceral fights and violence and it is better liked if we are under that false belief that it is real. As most people know though, reality television is incredibly staged and often ruins the lives of those involved with such programs. Cabin in the Woods, is blatantly a criticism of such a notion and asks viewers to reflect on their own involvement in such activities. If one reads the film in such a way it becomes something much larger than a cool horror movie, it is instead a mirror to society, one that says our near bloodlust could very well be the death of us all. It is only a matter of time before our constant desire to see demons destroy others will result in our own pandemonium, one that could have very fatal results. However, Cabin in the Woods could just be a genius bit of comedic horror, but were would the fun be in that?
Watch Cabin in the Woods while it is still in theaters and bring as many friends as possible, it is mandatory that you see it in a movie theater and has a great cameo at the end…trust me.