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You may or may not have heard of this movie. Premiered in 2011, featured an early Chris Hemsworth before he was chosen by Mjolnir, and had a kickass story line with a great cast. To be perfectly honest The Cabin in the Woods wasn't a huge success box office success because it was sort of like a hidden gem, the birth of what would become a cult classic.
So What is it? Some Kind of Campy Slasher?
Oh, my friend, how wrong AND right you are! On the surface (oh I slay myself sometimes) this is a movie about five friends working together to survive the quagmire that is college deciding to spend the weekend at a cabin owned by someone's cousin. Almost immediately upon arrival, everything goes south in the typical camp slasher way with the lovely twist of zombies.
In reality, though, this is all linked to something much deeper, much darker, and way more fun than you would think. Suffice to say that while rowdy teenagers are dying left and right, a couple of plucky and unconventional heroes arise to foil the secret plot and...destroy humanity. With quite a few laughs for the whole family though, so, yay for multi-genre films. It's a horror/thriller/mystery/comedy-thing!
And That is ...A Good Thing?
Well I mean not for humanity, obviously, but for you the viewer yes it is. To me, what made this movie stand out as something really special was the very fact that there was a greater purpose to the deaths of those poor sacrifices. Indeed, they were sacrifices, to a higher power that once crushed the souls of the living and enshrouded them in the darkness of eternal agony.
In a sense, every one of them, with the exception of The Virgin, needed to die in order to keep the world as they knew it free and without the monsters that nightmares were spawned from. So in rooting for the main characters of this movie, you placed yourself in the interesting position of rooting for the downfall of humanity and essentially the world as it existed. Which, okay, might make more sense now but six years ago I would like to believe we weren't all so completely jaded.
Explaining What Exactly Makes it A Horror Movie
Oh, jeez, where do I begin? To begin with, there is the obvious government conspiracy with a government sector completely devoted to ensuring people are sacrificed to Pagan Gods, which is where some of the funniest bits in the movie come from.
Then there is the basement full of stuff that should not be touched—I mean seriously why would you want to touch anything in there after reading journal entries from a "Glory of the Pain" die-hard? Should I mention the killer zombies, one of them being the twisted little girl who wrote the aforementioned entries? What about the mermaid, something so far from the vision of Disney that it's hysterical, and maybe even more disturbed than anything Hans Christian Anderson had in mind?
We certainly cannot forget the unicorns, the clowns, what I could swear is a parody of Pinhead, the bats, the office party bets, and even the very fact that seeing Jesse Williams in the film gave me 'Grey's Anatomy' flashbacks.
Maybe it is the idea that in the end, these kids would be so selfish, or maybe so brave, as to decide that if this world was one that would consider the brutal murders of their loved ones necessary sacrifices then it wasn't a world they wanted to save.
One could argue that the true horror lies in the fact that this could be both brave and selfish, and you can't choose one over the other. Or at least, I could not. It's still got some very classic horror tropes in here too. It's such a mash-up of Splatter Horror and Survival Horror, it becomes the thing you didn't know you needed to see.
The shocking and bloody kills can jar you, the fact that nowhere is safe because it is all rigged to see you die can leave the audience wondering what the end game of this movie is, and yet despite all odds you really want to see at least someone walk away. Or limp, we'll take them limping away too.
Don't Go Searching for Spoilers, Just See it!
Alright, seriously, go watch this movie at least once in your life. You might love it, you might not, but I doubt this will be a waste of an hour and a half of your time. If nothing else, even if you're not sold on this movie, if you are the kind of person who can actually sit through Jason X and not bat an eye then you seriously have no excuse. In fact, you have a problem.
I adored the plot twists at every turn, and the acting was solid. Some really nice metaphors for the prices we all pay to live relatively normal lives were prevalent in this movie, as well as a great cynical upheaval on "duty before desire."
If you have been looking for a movie that shakes the status quo and presents a whole new outlook and outcome on some old ideas then I cannot urge you enough to give Cabin in the Woods the good old college try.