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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Cabin in the Woods: AKA: Dear Joss, You are my Hero

Joss Whedon writing a horror film? Yes, please. That was my immediate reaction to the news that Joss was writing a horror flick. I have never made an attempt to hide my love of Mr. Whedon, and have frequently admitted to the fact although I often find the worlds of the Whedonverse terrifying...let's face it they are not happy places, I would also love to live there, sometimes, just to be friends with the characters he creates.

As I told my friend, whom I dragged with me opening night to see the film, "The Whedonverse is a scary place. I love to visit, but I wouldn't want to live there." I waited a few weeks to post this, knowing that not everyone would be as insane about seeing it right away.

What make Joss' work so incredible is that it is so inventive. You never quite know what to expect, no one is safe. Although he admits to not liking to be know as "the guy who kills everyone", Joss isn't afraid to take a beloved character and kill them to make the rest of the story more interesting. And though fans will bitch and moan, and scream and cry, when one of their characters is killed, deep down they know, the story is better for it. That's why they keep coming back.

Cabin in the Woods was filmed back in 2009, and features what I like to refer to as a Pre-Thor Thor, and appears to be just another teens go into the woods horror movie, but that is far from the truth.

I  am going to take this moment to tell you if you have NOT seen the movie yet, you should probably move on. There will most likely be SPOILERS ahead and if you wish to avoid them, you should continue no further. Go see the film, because it is awesome, and then come back.

Cabin in the Woods takes the classic stero-typical, teenagers going to spring break in the woods and turns it on it's head. Ever wonder why after years of these movies the group of teens always decides to "split up"? Or why one of the girls is always a slut? Well leave it to Joss to find an explanation for it all.

It is because that is how it has to be. Plain and simple. Every country has their own ritual, and at least one must be completed to appease the great evil Gods who slumber below us. In a weird way it almost makes sense when you think about it. The idea that the reason all these years of horror films happened were because these 1/2 Witt teens were being controlled by a larger power.

It was clear from the very beginning, when they chose to open with a scene at the facility as opposed to the typical teens preparing for the trip fodder we are used to, that this film was going to be different. As to what this facility was? Well that was for the moment, any one's guess.

Next we meet our victims, Curt "The Jock", Jules "The Whore", Holden "The Egghead", Marty "The Fool", and Dana "The Virgin". Although, they do try to establish that they are not you stereotypical teens. The soon to be Jock talking about schoolwork, the soon to be Egghead "has the best hands on the team", but aside from those subtle moments, Holden suddenly needing glasses about half way through the movie and a comment Marty later makes about how Jules and Curt are acting out of character, we don't really realize anything is odd about their behavior. I am curious as to if there are any deleted scenes in which the contrast in their normal personalities and their behavior at the cabin is made more clear.

On the way to the cabin our group stops for gas, because lets face it, as establish in just about every movie in the genre, that is what you do. Right on cue, enter the creepy gas station owner, who we later learn is named Mordecai, to basically tell them, as creepy gas station owners always do, that if they continue to the cabin they will die. Of course the group shrugs this off , because that is what they are supposed to do. As they are passing through the mountain tunnel, we are shown a shot of a hawk soaring. My cynical friend muttered "Why?" at which point the hawk exploded as it hit what appeared to be some sort of force field, "Oh," he muttered as he saw the van appear on the other side.

It is important to note that through out all this we are cutting between our teens and The Facility control room, which is being controlled by two employees, Hadley and Sitterson, who's sole job seems to be making sure these "scenarios" go off without a hitch, a chemist Lin, and what appears to be their security, who is serving for the first time, Truman. Through the conversations between the four of them we learn a little more about how this operation works.

To everyone, aside from Truman, this just their job. They've been desensitized to the fact that are essentially killing people. I imagine it is almost the same way in which a butcher or slaughter house worker would be. You have a job to do and you do it. This is perfectly expressed in the fact that pretty much the entire facility comes down to place bets on which creature(s) will be picked to finish off the teens. The amount of people who showed up to bet also illustrates just how large the facility is and the amount of people needed for this ritual occur smoothly.

After being shown a creepy two way mirror. We are given a few moments of the group having fun before inevitably the cellar door flies open. And so it begins.…

Dana is dared to go down into the cellar, and she and the others soon discover that it is full of all sorts of creepy junk. It is now up to the offerings to, unknowingly, choose how they will meet their demise.

The choice is made and a pain worshiping family of Zombies is unleashed upon our poor teens. At first all seems to go according to plan, one by one they're slaughtered. It looks as though the facility has completed their task. They celebrate while images of Dana being attacked by one of the Buckners plays on a screen behind them. As Hadley explains, "The Virgin" must always be left for last, and whether she lives or dies is inconsequential. All that matters is that she suffers.

Suddenly a red phone begins to ring. Clearly that is not a good sign. It is a call from "upstairs". Something has gone wrong.

Meanwhile, our dear little Dana is fighting for her life on the docks. Just when it looks like all hope is lost for her, THWAK! Something strikes the attacking Buckner from behind. Dana looks up to see Marty standing over her.

The two escape into what appears to be an elevator shaft and descend down into a world they never dreamed existed. A world full of monsters all stored in glass cubes, just waiting to be released, and Dana comes to the horrifying realization that they chose what was unleashed upon them. What then follows is a chaotic battle for survival. Marty and Dana unleash all the captured creatures on to the facility and many many horrific deaths ensue.

In their quest to escape the two teens come to what appears to be a ritual room. Symbols of the archetypes they were forced to play line the walls, blood filling in the ones who have already passed. It is this room that they meet "The Director", played by the ever awesome Sigourney Weaver, who tries to explain the situation and why, in order save mankind, Marty must die.

There is a definite moment in where it looks as though The Director has gotten through to Dana. She stands there behind her friend, who has saved her life several times at this point, gun raised prepared to fire. It's a very Buffy-esq moment actually. Hardening back to "Becoming: Part 2", the season finale of season 2, in which Buffy has to kill Angel in order to save the world. Here Dana is presented with a very similar choice, kill someone she loves, as one loves their friends, or allow the world to be destroyed. Unfortunately she doesn't get a chance to decide as she is then attack from behind by a ware wolf. The Director and Marty grapple for the gun, and Marty emerges from the scuffle where as The Director falls from the platform they are standing on to what is presumed to be the pit that houses the ancient ones below.

Marty and a dying Dana share a joint as they wait for the end of the world.

Random Thoughts and Theories

I noticed several points through out the movie where I could not wait for the move to be released on BluRay/DVD so that I could take the time to better explore. The basement was filled with what looked like THOUSANDS of different artifacts, and I would love to take a longer look to see as many as I could and match them up to their creatures. We know that the conch matches to the Merman, the diary to the Buckners, the music box to the freaky Ballerina thing, the bladed ball to that neck blade guy and the masks to the masked killers, but what about the necklace Jules had, or the film Marty was inspecting? I figure between the creatures in their cells, the white board and the post purge scenes in the facility I would be able to match quite a few. Also I would LOVE to slow down one of the scenes during the purge, where you see the monsters ravaging the facility on several surveillance screens and the intern is holding up what looks like cue cards, just to see what the cards actually say.

There were several references to other films, my favorites of course being those made to the Evil Dead trilogy, which included, but I'm sure are not limited to, "The Angry Molesting Tree" and "Deadites" listed on the board, the animal hanging on the wall being referred to as a "Moose" and the "Maybe it was the wind," response to the cellar blowing open.

I lot of people have been complaining that revealing the force field toward the beginning of the movie took away from the Curt's death scene. Personally it didn't bother me at all. Actually, I thought it heightened his whole hero speech before the jump, knowing that there was no way he was going to make it made the moment even more ironic.

The one thing that bothered me though was in the trailer they show Dana and Marty in the elevator. For me that totally ruined the "Marty is actually alive" reveal. I know not everyone obsesses over trailers like I tend to, but still that was a pretty big mess up, in my opinion.
All and all I loved this movie, it was everything I had hoped it would be and then some.  It is not a straight out horror film, and if that is what you are expecting you will probably come out disappointed, but it is a brilliant new twist on an old genre. 

1 comment:

  1. Good review! I just watched the movie and it was great. I am also looking forward to the DVD/BluRay release