If you’ve read our showdown, you know Keith and I disagree on this film. To save you time, my review will be the rave. If you didn’t love the film, stop here. The Cabin in the Woods is a thrilling, innovative ride through horror and one that brought the self-aware quality of films such as Scream back to the forefront in a great way. It pays tribute to the films that built this genre, in both good and bad ways, while still managing to produce something new. The movie follows a group of five college kids who travel to a cabin in the woods for some camping fun. True to campy horror, we have a nice diverse cast comprised of a jock, a nerd, a virgin, a stoner and a slut. Soon after they arrive at the cabin, things start to go awry and shit goes down. Parallel to this story is another involving a bunch of employees at a corporation that appears to be controlling the cabin in the woods.
There wasn’t much I didn’t like about this movie. It’s basically a movie-within-a-movie in that viewers follow the kids through their stereotypical campy horror story and also follow the corporation as it creates and manipulates the cabin in the woods story. This movie is something of a choose your own adventure and also a sleuth, which makes it fun and engaging. I never got bored and I always wanted to know what was going to happen next. The characters are all interesting and far more developed than most horror characters. Much like Scream, the film is incredibly self-aware and a real treat for fans of the genre. All the elements of horror that you love and even the ones that drive you crazy are present in this movie for people to mock or rejoice at. The last 20-ish minutes of the film are pretty damn scary and expose the audience to a slew of horrifying creatures (even a unicorn!) and a ton of blood and gore. The survival fear (my favorite kind of fear!) is at its highest during this last segment of the film and it resonates strongly.
What keeps this film from being a 10 and what most people seem to criticize is its lack of scare and plethora of comedy. Most people seem to think this movie crosses the horror line and winds up in horror-comedy with Zombieland. I believe Zombieland is a horror-comedy and that’s why it’s not on our site, but I don’t think this film is the same situation. Sure, The Cabin in the Woods isn’t terrifying and it certainly didn’t keep me up at night, but there are all kinds of fear. Zombieland is never scary and consistently funny. The Cabin in the Woods is creepy at times and definitely gory and pretty scary at the end. There are jokes throughout and the film’s premise does allow it to mock the genre and itself, but I still think it lands in horror. It may be close to that line, but it’s not over it.
Perhaps The Cabin in the Woods needed a little less levity and a bit more scare, but I think it’s damn near perfect. The film is a fantastic tribute to what makes this genre both amazing and horrible at the same time. It’s a fun ride and one that viewers aren’t sure to forget. Maybe you won’t find the zombie rednecks or the other creatures scary, but you should find the idea of manipulation and manufactured fear to be a bit haunting. Horror island better watch out because The Cabin in the Woods is bringing a crew of horror creatures to the island. By land, by air and by sea… this movie (and its merman) is coming for you.
If you liked The Cabin in the Woods, you might also like Scream, The Evil Dead and Friday the 13th.