Deconstructing a Subgenre – The Cabin in the Woods (2012)

Writer’s note: I’m going to go into minor spoiler territory here.  This is a movie I highly recommend going into cold, knowing as little as possible.  A lot of what makes this so enjoyable is all of the surprises found within the twists and turn, and if the posters and IMDb plot summary appeal to you, you should stop reading immediately and go watch it…  Of course, if this is up your alley, you’ve probably already seen it, but that’s neither here nor there.  I do NOT want to be the one to ruin anything about this, so fair warning: here be spoilers.

Kind of a game changer.  It’s a story as old as the horror genre itself: friends go into the middle of the woods to relax and get away from civilization.  They disturb an ancient evil and subsequently doom themselves, getting picked off one by one.  This is the movie that dares to ask the question on everybody’s mind: why?  The conceit behind this is actually pretty genius, and while Joss Whedon gets the lion’s share of the credit, you can’t forget that it is actually Drew Goddard that co-wrote and directed this.  This focuses on the man behind the curtain, giving you the survival horror movie you were promised, but also showing you all the gears turning that make this killing machine run as well.

necronomiconIf you were one of those people that watched Evil Dead and questioned the motivation of the Necronomicon, this is the movie for you.

It is such a fresh take on this genre, and it breaks everything down to its base elements: five characters who are all stereotypes (but there’s a reason for it), an unstoppable evil (there’s a reason for that, too) and pretty much every single trope you have ever seen in the genre, and yes, there is even a reason behind the logic of thinking that it’s a good idea for everybody to split up.  Because it does this so well, it changes not only the way that you look at all future slasher movies, but also past ones as well, and movies that change the way that you view an entire subgenre are few and far between.

whiteboardIf anything, the infamous white board is worth the price of admission alone. 

Once you get to end of this when the purge button gets pushed, it is a wildly entertaining blast that will make you geek out if you have any background in horror.  It just becomes this glorious smorgasbord of creature features, B-movies and horror classics.  This is my third time watching this, and even if you already know the framework from a previous viewing, it is still just as fun as the first time you watched it.  As a film fan, once you see where this is going, it’s a sure bet that it will put a huge smile on your face.  There are some really good horror deconstruction movies out there if you know where to look, and this might very well be the best one, and I happily put it next to instant classics like Tucker and Dale vs. Evil, and Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon.

The Cabin in the Woods (2012) *****

– Critic for Hire


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