Second post of the day! If you missed it, earlier we got my first Super Special Guest Post of the month by Adam P. Knave. He brilliantly compared The Sixth Sense to Evil Dead 2. Don’t ask, just go read it.
My movie today is vaguely related to the Evil Dead franchise. Because it takes place in a cabin. In the woods.
The Cabin in the Woods.
I can’t stop with this title. Okay. I’m stopping. Here’s today’s post. A not really ghost movie that doesn’t take place in a haunted house but does have ghosts somewhere and most definitely takes place in a cabin.
I don’t go heavy with the spoilers here but if you haven’t seen this movie yet, you probably shouldn’t read anyway. I don’t want to ruin anything for you.
Also, I managed to not get distracted by squeeing about Chris Hemsworth. BUT OMG. CHRIS HEMSWORTH IS HOT. Okay, I’m done now.
The Cabin in the Woods – USA, 2012. Dir. Drew Goddard, Screenplay Joss Whedon & Drew Goddard. Starring Kristen Connolly, Chris Hemsworth, Anna Hutchinson, Fran Kranz, Jesse Williams, Richard Jenkins, Bradley Whitford.
Before you start reading this, if you haven’t seen Cabin in the Woods yet and have any intention of ever doing so, stop reading now! I’m serious. I’m telling you not to read.
Why? Well, Cabin in the Woods really is one of those movies where you need to know nothing about it. Seriously. Know nothing. It’s better that way. Trust me. You may love it, you may hate it, depends on your taste, but if you know what it is, you’re going to lose out on a lot.
I didn’t know what Cabin in the Woods was. I’d heard some vague rumors about its existence. I knew Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard were involved so therefor I had to see it. I knew there was a cabin. And it was in the woods?
When the trailers came out, I started to watch one. I was curious. And at first it just seemed like a kind of normal, albeit clever, kids in the woods slasher horror flick. But as I watched, I realized that it of course wasn’t just that. And I stopped the trailer half way through because I was afraid it was going to give something away.
You really shouldn’t spoil things for yourself.
Okay, I warned you. Still with me?
I love Cabin in the Woods.
I saw it twice in the theater. And then I rented the DVD as soon as it came out. Still gonna buy the blu-ray. I want it. I need it. I have to have it.
Sorry. That was weird.
Anyway. Cabin in the Woods. Why do I love it so much? Why am I even writing about it when my theme is Ghost Movies and it’s really not a ghost movie? WHAT HAS IT DONE TO MY BRAIN?
Easy stuff first. I love because the writing is wonderful. I love how it starts us off with the incredibly mundane conversation of two seemingly random office workers (well, as random as Richard Jenkins and Bradley Whitford can ever be), gives us some information that doesn’t make much sense, and then throws us into a kind of cliche set-up for a teen horror flick.
This set-up isn’t really cliche. What happens so beautifully in these early scenes is that we’re actually introduced to real, thought out characters. That we like. A lot. They banter, they know each other, the group is mixed with the cliches – the blond, the jock, the virgin, the stoner, the nice guy – but they don’t act like cliches.
AND THAT’S ALL PART OF THE POINT that this movie is making. This movie makes us like these characters and then it makes us acknowledge exactly how it is we normally watch horror movies. When we watch a Jason movie, we’re cheering for Jason. We want to see people die, we want to see how he’s going to do it.
And how much do we ever think of that? Ever think of our own role in the horror movie experience? The watching, the cheering, the voyeurism. Horror filmmakers are making these movies with a keen awareness of their audience. Whether it’s to make us laugh, cry, or scream, every scare, every death, every horror is created for us. Whether we realize it or not.
Cabin in the Woods lifts that veil. It forces us to become active in the horror that’s happening to these kids on the screen. And by the end, we really, really want them to live.
BUT it doesn’t stop there! Because the pain worshipping redneck zombies are pretty much just whatever, zombies. We don’t cry for them when they get hacked to bits. But we do like the people behind the pain worshipping redneck zombies. Those random office workers from the beginning? We get to know them too! And they’re awesome! They’re just a couple of hilarious dudes pulling some really fucked up strings.
So when the sweet kids we’ve grown to love are suddenly facing off against the guys in the room below who we also love, who do we cheer for now?? Who gets to live? Who has to die? More importantly, who do we want to live and who do we want to die? Because we’re involved now, we’re making this choice.
Whether we get what we want is up to the writers, but we still get to choose. There’s lots about choice in this movie. The writers actually give these characters agency. It’s cool.
And that’s why I love it.
I also love it cause it’s a super clever deconstruction of the genre filled with hilarious dialogue and craziness around every corner.
Oh but hey, I didn’t get to the part where this counts as a Haunted House movie! And okay, I’ll admit some of this is a stretch because mostly I just really wanted to talk about Cabin in the Woods and I needed an excuse to tie it in to the theme. But it still sort of counts?
Exhibit A) On the theme of choice, they explore this a lot, when the kids all go down into the cellar, they have to choose their destruction. They happen to choose the pain worshipping redneck zombies. They could have just as easily chosen the merman. Or the ghosts!
So see, this could have been a ghost movie.
Exhibit B) The location, in this case the Cabin of the title, plays a significant role in the plot. The house, its construction and atmosphere, are all essential to the events unfolding. The creepy cellar, the weird two way mirror, the doors that close by themselves. The house literally poisons the people occupying it, changes who they are, and coerces them into making decisions they wouldn’t normally make.
Okay, yeah, most of that is the chem lab, but still. Whatever. It counts.
Exhibit C) If Evil Dead II gets to be a Haunted House movie, then so does this!
At least, that’s what I say. And since this is my place to write what I like, I win!
Cabin in the Woods. One of my new favorite horror movies. And an honorary member of the Haunted House club.