From the previews, “The Cabin in the Woods” looked like a conventional, slasher flick. I almost dreaded going to see it. I’m no horror movie buff, but I know a formulaic horror plot when I see one. I thought I would be able to predict what would happen throughout. But while elements of predictability still played into the story, “The Cabin in the Woods” proved that not all Hollywood films have conformed to one, single script.
What the previews don’t show is the hilarity of the movie. The audience around me laughed as much as they jumped out of their seats in surprise. Though it is marketed as a horror film, I would put “The Cabin in the Woods” in the horror/comedy genre. But unlike the horror/comedies like “Shaun of the Dead” (2004) and “Scream” (1996), which are satirizing horror movie conventions, “The Cabin in the Woods” doesn’t seem to satirize tired cliches as much as it attempts to explain them. In this way, it is quite an original movie.
Co-written and produced by Joss Whedon, creator of the cult shows “Firefly” and “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” I suppose I should have known that this would not be the typical scary movie. Whedon has a reputation for creative, intricate plot lines and unique characters.
The originality of the film places it in a league of its own. However, describing the plot would give too much away. From the very first scene, viewers who came to see a run-of-the-mill slasher film were scratching their heads.
When the movie started, “The Truman Show” (1998) was the first thing that came to mind. For those who have not seen it, “The Truman Show” is a movie about a man whose every moment is on a TV show for everyone to see — only he is unaware of this. His community consists of a group of actors and directors sitting in studios high above the town, controlling all of the events in Truman’s life. As for the plot of “The Cabin in the Woods,” think “The Truman Show” meets “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” (1974).
Although it has many laugh-out-loud moments, “The Cabin in the Woods” has its share of blood and gore, too; there are some genuine, heart-pounding moments. After a scary movie, I will admit that I tend to look over my shoulder for the rest of the night. This was not the case with “The Cabin in the Woods.” In the theater, I gasped and closed my eyes, but it was nothing that would cause me to sleep with the lights on.
Perhaps what truly struck a chord with me was how much fun I had watching the movie. The artsier, more dramatic films are always great, but once in a while I don’t want to sit there and admire the cinematography or the great acting. I want to be scared. I want to laugh. This movie made me do both.
Along with its ability to entertain, “The Cabin in the Woods” was one of the most unique horror movies I’ve seen in years. Having only recently embraced the horror genre, I’ve been doing a lot of catch up, watching the classics and the new stuff. As of now, I feel like I’m numb to movies like “Paranormal Activity Part XX: The Phantom Menace” and “Saw XVI: Jigsaw Goes to Vegas.” While neither of those movies actually exists, I wouldn’t be surprised if they were made. They may make millions of dollars, but in terms of quality, the customer is not always right. Joss Whedon took a chance by not letting the box office govern his story — it paid