Today I saw The Cabin in the Woods, after waiting for SOOO long. This film was shot in 2009, and the studio and Joss Whedon danced around for 3 years fighting against and for converting it into 3D. Honestly, there were 2 shots in this entire movie worthy of 3D, so I’m very, very glad they steered away from it and released it as it was intended to be seen.
Anyway, I checked EW this morning to see what it got, and Lisa Schwarzbaum gave it a B-. Okay, whatever, I probably would have given it a B+, so that’s pretty fair. But after reading her review, I realized that she missed the entire point of the movie. I wrote a lengthy comment, which I decided to repost here. Please read her review at http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,20483133_20567682,00.html And see my response as follows.
I think you completely missed the point of the film. The characters AREN’T archetypes, they are molded into stereotypical caricatures by the “puppeteer” organization that’s pulling all the strings. I don’t think this film is a critique of horror films, I think it’s a critique of horror filmMAKERS and moviegoers. The characters start out as normal young people, with their own unique personalities. The blonde “whore” isn’t really a whore, until she gets drugged by the organization. The “fool” is the smartest character in the movie. The “virgin” isn’t really even a virgin, as evidenced by her relationship with the professor, and her remarks to the “scholar,” who, yes, is intelligent, but is also a great football player. These kids don’t represent the stereotypes until the organization forces them to. Much as horror filmmakers present us with totally unrealistic, frankly insulting representations of young 20-somethings.
An entire room of male scientists ogles the “nearly” naked girl, who is only naked because they drugged her repeatedly. How is this any different from a room full of male writers/directors/editors/moviegoers ogling a naked actress in a stereotypical horror film? The characters make smart choices, such as wanting to stick together when the “crap” hits the fan, and jumping in their van to make an escape as soon as possible, but again, they’re thwarted by the people pulling the strings, who continually bend reality to get their desired outcome. How is this different than a writer piecing together a completely contrived script in order to up the gore factor?
The characters even “choose” their own monsters, much as society swings from one horror fascination to the next (mummies, vampires, zombies, and around it goes), which horror filmmakers then take advantage of. And audiences eat these movies up, no matter how stupid, unrealistic, or insulting they are. Well in this movie, the “virgin” and the “fool” fight back, and society pays the price for their vapid obsession with sex and gore.
This movie wasn’t perfect, but, among other things, it’s trying to point out that a horror film can’t be scary if we can see the people behind the scenes pulling all the strings. Real horror is rooted in reality, which is something that modern horror films have completely missed. Jaws is scary, because sharks are real, and they do kill, and they are scary. Psycho is scary, because there are crazy people in the world, and the things that happen in Psycho do happen in real life. The Paranormal Activity/Saw/Final Destination/Scream franchises provide gore porn and quick “BOO” scares, but they don’t elicit the same feeling of wrongness and true fear that the classics do.
The Cabin in the Woods was original, surprising, and enjoyable. There were definitely some loose ends left hanging at the end, but it was more entertaining and effective than 98% of the films currently playing. Ignore Lisa, go see it, and draw your own conclusions.