By: Cody Curtis, Staff Writer
Two weeks ago, when writing about The Babadook, I said that the horror genre was a difficult subject to watch and talk about. You have probably noticed that there are not many good horror films out there. Why are there so many bad horror films, you may ask? Because, not only are they very inexpensive to produce, but there are many cliches and pitfalls which filmmakers often use. Luckily, director Drew Goddard crafted the film Cabin in the Woods (2012) to not only be a great film which celebrates the horror genre, but also a movie that reveals and deconstructs everything wrong with the genre
Five college students: Dana (Kristen Connoly), Curt (Chris Hemsworth), Jules (Anna Hutchison), Marty (Fran Krantz) and Holden (Jesse Williams) decide to take a vacation to a remote cabin the middle of a deserted forest. Once they arrive, these young adults begin to indulge in booze, along with each other. At the same time, they don’t realize the malicious events that are about to unfold and that there are men behind the curtain pulling the strings.
Goddard started his career as a director with Cabin in the Woods and it landed with a huge bang. A group of college students getting massacred in a cabin is a trope which has been used in horror films time and time again. Some would consider The Evil Dead (1981) to be the inspiration for this particular terrifying adventure.
Some of the cliches found in slasher/horror films include: booze, raging hormones and very unintelligent decisions made by people in their 20’s. Not only does Goddard handle this material with a knowledgeable eye, but also dissects it and exploits it to the best of his directing ability. A few of the unique devices in the film may include: pheromone spray to get the young adults blood flowing and their attitudes hypersexual (there always has to be the sex scene.). Better yet, Cabin in the Woods may include a dry-erase board filled with every evil creature found in this genre. Here, a mixture of old and new terror comes together to create something incredibly special.
Unlike many other films of this kind, Cabin in the Woods sets itself apart—Not just in execution, but tone as well. Instead of the film being polluted with simple jump scares, tension and gore, Drew Goddard’s masterwork is a hilarious dark comedy.
Every line delivered to ease the tension of a specific scene works stupendously. This makes Cabin in the Woods not just a movie made for horror fans, but an experience to be shared by everyone. Have you ever seen a horror film where the individual who may be the most intelligent one in the group is also the person who is smoking weed most of the time? It is certainly something new and is used very well. This is when the film shows it’s pure comedic genius.
Goddard is not the only person to praise however. Joss Whedon, a fellow contributor to the screenplay, is one of its unsung heroes. A movie can only be as good as the script provided and luckily Goddard and Whedon come together to produce a screenplay that is quick-witted and dark. This a great satirical film about the suspense and horror genre.
Whedon, who previously worked on screenplays for the hit show Firefly and Marvel’s The Avengers, is no stranger to creating something a little bizarre and fairly amusing. However, Cabin in the Woods may just be his best writing to date.
One of the biggest elements a story has to accomplish is making sure all the characters feel fleshed out. Once again, this is accomplished in an extraordinary manor, through the use of small talk between individuals in the film. Whenever two or more people in the film were in a room together, it felt as though the dialogue was grounded in reality. How characters spoke was very similar to the kinds of things coworkers and colleagues would say to each other, in a business or casual conversation.
From laughter to chilling imagery, Cabin in the Woods is a triumph on every aspect. As far as this writer is aware there is no other film in this genre that will celebrate the terror, while at the same time dispatch it as inconceivable and ridiculous. If there is something both The Babadook and this film have taught, it’s that a horror movie with a heart are the best kind. So sit back and let the story unfold, as you the audience member discover what it’s like to be terrified, laughing and self-reflecting all at once.