Science fiction and fantasy                                            

The Cabin In The Woods

directed by Drew Goddard


The Cabin In The Woods starts out looking like some kind of twisted social experiment. People in white coats casually discuss their families, while they work at a sterile-seeming facility full of high-tech consoles lit up like Christmas trees. Five young American students are going on a trip to a cabin in the woods, where they think they'll be off the grid and out of reach of civilisation. It's as if they've never watched any horror movie, ever. But they're young, dumb, and at least one of them is high on weed, so perhaps their foolishness is understandable.

On the way there they're warned off by an extremely surly guy who reluctantly lets them fill up their camper van at his closed-down petrol pump. He pretty much tells them they'll die if they go on, but the young people ignore him because he looks crazy. But once at the cabin odd things start to happen. The place isn't so much creepy as strangely manipulative. The five victims are being set up for something horrible, and the question is whether they'll figure out what is happening before they get killed.

The young people go in with a carefree attitude, and the film takes on the tone of a comedy, but that soon turns black. About three quarters of the way through it gets more and more absurd. The ending moves quite far into silliness because of the number of rampaging monsters, and because the reason for all of the subterfuge and cruelty turns out to be something that doesn't stand up to close analysis. I felt a little disappointed by this movie because it turns out to be very, very light in terms of the themes it tackles, even though there are hints of something deeper at the start. The stoner, Marty (Fran Kranz), is a conspiracy theorist who worries about puppeteers pulling his strings, and at first I thought that the story was going to go in a more realistic direction and satirise social manipulation, but it didn't.

There are dark moments. The the young people are suffering terribly at the hands of various monsters, the way those watching them behave is shocking in its own way. The reactions of the watchers are amongst the most obscene parts of this movie, because they know there are real people in the cabin, getting attacked, and they behave as though it's a film playing in the background. This aspect was far more horrific than any of the monsters.

The characters are quite stock, although part of the knowing irony of the film is that they've been manipulated into fulfilling their roles. So that makes it totally okay (um?) when they fall into the stereotypical roles they're supposed to occupy, and then go out and follow the pre-ordained paths of victims in a hackneyed slasher movie.

The Cabin In The Woods has its funny moments, and these often arise through confounding our expectations in the action, rather than being a matter of dialogue. However, the main characters didn't seem to have particularly strong personalities, and the themes aren't explored in much depth. So this was a movie that amused me for its duration, but didn't leave a lasting impression.

20th November 2013

Film Details

Year: 2012

Categories: Films


Classification: 15

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1408 cover    

1408 by Mikael Håfström
An occult author checks in to room 1408 of the Dolphin Hotel, expecting another paranormal hoax.

3 star rating

Review ©