I have always loved suspense. Hence it does not come as a surprise that I enjoy the horror and thriller genre a lot. I have seen all kinds of immortal killer movies, teenager horror films, 70ies remakes and singing zombie flicks (seriously). So I think I do know the genre rules pretty much by heart by now. Therefore I am having a blast when every now and then a movie comes along that pokes fun at the genre and does not take itself too seriously. This is exactly what you’re in for in the case of Drew Goddard’s and Joss Whedon’s “Cabin in the Woods”. So be warned, anyone not a fan of the genre might not have a good time.
So, what happens? (Spoiler alert)
The only thing that can happen: a group of five college kids is off to have a nice weekend in a remote cabin house at a lake. A mandatory stop at a gas station in the middle of nowhere included. You know, with a grumpy owner who seems suspicious and up to no good. Just like you have come to know and love from “The Hills Have Eyes” or “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre”.
Things seem peaceful at first at the cabin. That is, until night falls. Suddenly the cellar door busts open all by itself. Of course, being good horror film victims, the kids just have to go downstairs and check it out. Naturally, that is a big mistake. What they find are strange relics of different kinds. And a diary from former residents who seem to have been stricken with terror from a dark force. The supposed smart girl of the group reads out aloud a Latin curse from said diary. And – tada! – enter backwoods zombie family who used to live at the cabin. And who enjoys blood. Oh you kids, I am telling you, you should have listened to the stoned friend among you. He was actually pretty much right and careful 99 per cent of the time.
While the fight for survival kicks off, we witness strange happenings in a huge laboratory underneath the cabin at the same time. Scientists and the like watching the kids above on monitors, releasing chemicals to alter their perception and behavior. So that’s why Mr “I like pot” isn’t affected. The scientists bet on the kids’ lives and suffer from the occasional office boredom as well as VERY dry humor. Turns out they are orchestrating this once each year, with the goal of sacrificing the blood of five young people to appease ancient gods. Well, to basically save the world from pure evil. Being humble is overrated.
Now that’s quite a biggie of an explanation for the events in a horror movie, isn’t it? Probably the most important one you could reach for. You think it’s silly? Well, it’s meant to be. “Cabin in the Woods” is all about grabbing any scary movie cliché we might know and having a field day with it. While being suspenseful. You have it all: a group of stereotyped young adults, the “Evil Dead”-esque wooden cabin and the kids just not managing to stick together as a group. Granted, actually they were smart enough to want to until a scientist from underneath decided to work his magic and change their minds chemically. Isn’t that called cheating?
The most hilarious part is actually the laboratory. Turns out that they are keeping any monster and killer you could ever imagine there. And, hello deus ex machina, there’s even a nice red button that magically releases all of them simultaneously for a very bloody and very over-the-top final battle. Don’t you just love how most horror movies have a handy and out-of-nowhere solution towards the end? “Cabin in the Woods” is having a great time with that cliché, too. It’s the monsters versus the scientists versus the few kids that have survived until now. A few examples are zombies, vampires, big spiders, huge snakes, a creepy IT-like clown and even a Xenomorph from “Alien”. Perfect considering Sigourney Weaver has a nice cameo at the end of the film.
So to any scary movie aficionado, I can only say: Grab your popcorn and enjoy watching the world end as we know it. In the craziest way. What? Don’t tell me you expected a happy end. This is a horror film after all, it cannot have a happy end.
Video source: Official UK Lionsgate Youtube channel