The Cabin In The Woods Fails to convince Michelle it is Innovative

The Cabin in the Woods Movie Review

Cult favorites Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard seek to turn the Horror Genre on its head with its multi-genre bending The Cabin In the Woods. The movie borrows humor and supernatural elements from Buffy The Vampire Slayer, several cups of pseudo hipster (meta) awareness, and a pinch of horror from Wrong Turn (a full rip off); throw the concoction into a blender to see what comes out.

There is no denying the Horror Movie genre has grown stale, we had the genre redefining Scream movies several years ago, then the SAW and Hostel films revived the genre by going all out torture porn and now we’re back in this stage where Horror needs a new direction. Unfortunately this is not the direction to return to.

This is a genre that requires the audience to go along for the ride (no matter how ridiculous it may be) and part of that ride is having the fear and tension build to the point where you are jumping at every bump or floor creek. This movie has none of that and every time it starts to suck you in, it completely switches tone and destroys any attachment to the would be victims and everything else that goes on.

The Cabin in the Woods Movie Review

As an audience member, I could never enjoy the primary horror movie because it is constantly interrupted by long stretches of silliness in the control room. Is this silliness funny? It’s cute in small doses, but there was too much of it. The humor kept reminding me that I’m not watching a horror movie and there is nothing at stake – other than the deaths of people we never get to know.  Why invest my time in anything that is going on when the movie clearly doesn’t seem to care.

Whedon and Goddard’s script did not provide enough time to really get to know, nor care about, any of the victims. The movie’s central conceit and idea that there is a mysterious organization that sets up teens to be killed in horror movie fashion never works because the movie becomes more about why this is going on instead of what is happening.  A horror movie is all about the what and not why.

Goddard does an adequate job of directing this movie but I couldn’t help but think I was watching some of the lamer episodes of Buffy – the season 5 Initiative episodes come to mind, but some of the forced humor from Season 7 also is included.

Meta, insider gimmicks and comedy in horror works fine when used sparingly. The Scream movies are known for being self-aware but they didn’t overuse the gimmick (until the 3rd one) and never forgot that at the end of the day it was a HORROR movie.

Goddard is so in love with his conceit that he beats you over the head with it. I get it, there are puppet masters that set all this up, we don’t need to be reminded every 5 freaking minutes. This is a case where less would have been more.

Every time we get a brief glimpse of the hillbilly zombie monsters or a death, we get a quick extended cutaway to control room shenanigans, or a clip of Japanese girls killing a ghost. This totally destroys the horror moment that just happened prior.  The movie also commits the “sin” of simply not being as funny as it thinks it is. I love Joss Whedon but his fanboyish dialog tricks have gotten stale.

The movie would have worked a lot better if it followed a more traditional structure. Drop hints and save the big reveal and “spoiler” until the end, don’t make it the entire basis for the movie. The last 10 minutes of the movie is great and finally brings it all together neatly but by then it is much too late to redeem the first 2/3rds of the entire affair.

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17 thoughts on “The Cabin In The Woods Fails to convince Michelle it is Innovative”

  1. “The Cabin in the Woods” starts off as a college age teen horror flick but is something more.  There is horror, gore, terror, and humor with some veteran actors showing up.  Five students go in a Winnebago from the city to a remote ‘cabin in the woods’ and very strange things happen.  You’ve never seen anything quite like this.
    GRADE = “B”

  2. You wanted the movie to be a standard horror movie with a deus ex machina twist at the end.  Wow, what a thrill that would have been.  I gotta say, I’m sure glad that Whedon and Goddard tried to be more original than the boring balogna you wished for.

    1. No, I did not “want” a “standard” horror movie. Based on its own conceit and conventions the movie failed. The entire premise and gimmick is flawed because it juxtaposes two radically different tones and movies into one and it does not work and its not even as original as you fanboys make it out to be. It is Buffy Season Four (the worst season) meets a straight ripoff of Wrong Turn highlights.

      I have absolutely nothing against horror comedy as long as it remembers its a horror movie first – Scream, Nightmare on Elm Street’s Freddy Kruger, Shaun of the Dead all mix horror and comedy perfectly. If you want “meta” movie within movie horror – Final Nightmare is amazing.

      1. I agree with you. The film shows that the filmmakers know a lot of horror tropes, but don’t understand what makes them work.

        (BTW, it’s New Nightmare.)

  3. This is the kind of jaded nonsense you might expect from someone who doesn’t know much about movies but knows what she likes. Clearly, the trope of this movie is completely lost on you. And I’m fairly sure you left the theatre early to avoid the ruch to the bathroom, rather than wait to have the last part of the story explained.

    Worst. review. ever.

  4. This reads like a shitty middle school book report. You make a living doing this?

  5. Great review – this film falls into the same category as “Drag Me to Hell” – lots over-love from middle-age film critics and fan boys, but completely misses the mark with its largest target, tweens & teens.  

  6. Couldnt’ agree more. Excellent review.But not surprised that somany peaople disagree. I would have also liked it if I were 13 years old.

  7. Horribly stupid review. For some reason you expected to see horror movie, and… oops! It’s fantastic cinephilic  comedy about making horrors; but you couldn’t throw out the pattern (even don’t try to) and keep crying about “horror moments” which couse recognition, joy and laugh instead of fear.
    Undoubtly, next time you shoud go to Titanic and cry about little action and shooting, to “21 jump street” expecting philosophical drama, and so on.

    1. But it’s not even a comedy. Well, again, if you are really yong and not demanding you might find it funny. And it’s not clever enough either. Probably the only splash – that Tarantino-like moment at the end, with blood and monsters everywhere, otherwise boooring.

  8. Wrong, wrong, wrong. And thanks for the spoiler alert (not!). I take it you are one of those people  you thinks of yourself as some sort of ‘expert.’  Not on this you aren’t. A very well done horror movie from any angle.

  9. My first question is, what the hell is eclipse magazine? Second how can the guy who wrote a show as quirky and random as “Buffy” be a HIPSTER? I think you mean nerdy or maybe geeky, like comicon or cosplay or skinny kevin smith or Sam Raimi – Bruce Campbell = sorta Joss Whedon.  Are any of these what you meant? I think you might be confused about your use of kneejerk branding. Then you went with Meta, Jesus did you use urban dictionary to write this review? 

    Citizen Cane man that movie so Meta, old people and snow globes and F’ing Fedora Hipsters. Thats what it felt like to read this review. Sigh.

    Edit: Traditional Structure really like there are not enough formulaic horror movies? I bet you dindt like Army of Darkness you cretin. :p

  10. I seriously think some people, reviewers and commenters, are forgetting that genres can be spliced. There are countless horror/comedies out there: Evil Dead (that cabin in cabin in the woods is so the Evil Dead cabin btw), Shaun of the Dead, though more of a comedy but still genre bends, Tucker & Dale Vs Evil, Fright Night, these are just the best of the bunch. Then there’s also horror/scifi/comedy: Attack the Block! Fact is I add this to the latter category, a mixture of all three.
     Any true horror fan can’t be angry because a horror film adds the laughs, Drag Me To Hell suffered the same criticism. I distinctly remember one lady complaining that the movie wasn’t good because of the humor but she was the main one laughing, she thought it was meant to be flat out horror. It’s Sam Raimi lady! Granted, she probably didn’t even know who Raimi was but still, if the movie entertained why complain? It was meant to be funny and so was this.  Feast, a horror/comedy, Granted the horror/comedy was more of an 80s thing, and we lacked that composit genre in most of the 90s so I guess people lost the palette, maybe. I personally love the mixing of genres, GHOSTBUSTERS. Cabin the Woods works wonderfully, it’s not perfect but wonderful. A 9.5 out of 10.

    1. I don’t mind mixing genres, the problem with this movie is HOW it is done, not that it was done. It simply does not work they are forcing two radically different movies together at the expense of each other and it could have been good if they just toned down or cut out some of the ridiculous Initiative scenes.  To give the other story time to build.

      All the movies you mention work because it is blended together as one whole story so the genre mixing works.

      1. I can respect your opinion. I still think if we had gotten to know the characters a little more before their characters were altered to fit achetypes I would’ve liked the movie even more, but not at the expense of the Initiative scenes, maybe if the movie was a little longer though, but hey I’m no film maker.

  11. This review is the worst piece of hogwallop. Seriously don’t you understand what they were trying to accomplish with this movie. We didnt have to get to know the victims, because in the end we were rooting for them to live and get revenge. It was an interesting twist and i actually liked it rather than the normal Blah horror. its a medley of horror and science fiction. And the humor was much welcomed, the antics in the control room was meant to be shown as a complete disregard for the lives of the victims. Because they didnt give a shit if they lived or died. Which in essence is rather brutal, if you actually think about it they executed these “victims” because it was their job it was their duty to mankind. Because if they didnt they would get f’d up by ancient gods. The movie does care about the characters, but since the control room and the people in there didnt care, and they were the puppeteers, naturally the movie took on a nonchalant approach to the lives of the victims. And”Horror movies” following a traditional structure? By the way its not a wrong turn rip off, if anything it mimics the beginning of how MOST “traditional” horror movies begin. Satire sweetheart look it up

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