Saturday, April 14, 2012

The Cabin In The Woods : A Horror Fan's Wettest Of Dreams Come To Life


**Since it's best to go into this movie not really knowing anything about it, as I did, I'm gonna keep this review short and as spoiler free as I possibly can.  I hope that I'm still able to convey my incredible love for everything about the movie without ruining anything for those who haven't seen it.  Still though, I'd kinda prefer you see the movie without reading reviews of any kind, so if you've stayed in the dark till now, maybe stay away from this review too until you've seen the movie!**

I'm just gonna come right out and say it.  This movie is way too smart and way too awesome for American theaters and mainstream American audiences.  That's all I could think the whole time I was watching the movie, a belief that was confirmed for me when upon exiting the theater, I heard several groups of people talking about how stupid the movie was, and how they just didn't 'get it'.  Unfortunately, for those mainstream audiences who don't have a true love/hate relationship with the horror genre, Cabin In The Woods is essentially that stupid horror movie that it's mocking/throwing on its ass.  But to us hardcore horror fans, it's a ballsy and brilliant criticism of the entire genre that we love to love and love to hate, a 21st century Scream (...only a bit less accessible) that pretty much serves as a gory swan song for the genre as we know it.  This movie is for us, the horror fanboys/girls, who love the genre but are tired of the formulaic 'inside the box' nature of the horror film, and I'm thinking you'd be hard pressed to find a horror fan on this planet that doesn't walk out of the theater after watching this with a huge geeky smile on their face.

All others ... quite frankly need not even buy a ticket.

After waiting nearly three years for Cabin In The Woods (it was shot in 2009) and hearing nothing but incredibly positive things about it over the course of the past couple weeks, I'm happy to report that not only was the wait completely worth it, but all the hype was completely justified as well.  Cabin In The Woods is the best American theatrically released horror film in probably the past decade, the kind of film that will be studied over and discussed by horror fans and on blogs like my own for decades to come.  This is a game changer folks, and I'm pretty sure we will never look at a horror movie the same way again.  Nor will the genre as we know it be the same again.

For me, Cabin In The Woods was a totally surreal experience, an experience that it took me a solid hour to recover from and fully digest.  Though the movie is fun, all criticisms and insider humor aside, it's really the fed up horror fan message behind all the madness that is the main point of focus here, which is why I'm quite frankly shocked that this movie made it into mainstream American cinemas.  The reason it was so surreal to watch this movie play out in front of a packed audience of people was because it truly felt like the inside of my brain was being exposed on the screen, my opinions and those of many a horror fan like me put up there for the whole world to see.  In that sense I almost felt this weird possessive feeling about the movie, as well as somewhat of an awkward feeling whenever I'd hear someone in the audience make a remark to their friends about how stupid the movie was.  Cabin In The Woods is like a blogger's angry passionate rant about the horror genre come to life, wrapped inside of a generic teens in a cabin horror movie, which was totally awesome and at the same time totally weird to experience.

See?  I'm already having trouble conveying just how much I love this movie.  It's not an easy thing to do, being that the movie is so original and so genre bending.  Jen and I spent the hour long car ride home discussing the movie, both of us having a difficult time expressing exactly how we felt, and I knew when I came on here with the keyboard in my hands I'd have the same difficulties, even moreso given how hard it is to talk about the movie without totally spoiling everything about it.  Almost wish I could just get away with saying, "Dear Cabin In The Woods, I fuckin' love everything about you."  Can I?

Much like how Scream deconstructed the idea of horror movie victims, and Behind The Mask deconstructed the horror movie killer, Cabin In The Woods takes things one step further by deconstructing the very nature of constructing a formulaic horror movie, a meta as can be approach to spoofing the genre that makes it a bit less accessible to mass audiences even than either of those two films were.  Cabin In The Woods essentially takes us behind the scenes and into the formulaic factory that is the American horror movie industry, hired dolts going through the motions to deliver to audiences what they think they want.  At the same time that it's spoofing the industry it's also turning everything about it on its head, and somehow managing to lovingly homage it at the very same time.

So what we have here is a harsh and biting criticism of all the things us fans spend so much time complaining about, such as predictable tropes and cookie cutter victim characters, nestled inside a fun horror movie.  It almost at times feels like an angry horror fans meta remake of Evil Dead, who decided to use the movie as a means to essentially destroy and then reinvent the entire genre as a whole.  Cabin In The Woods takes everything we know about the genre, throws it into a blender and then leaves the top off and lets the concoction explode all over the fuckin' room, brilliantly deconstructing and destroying the factory-like approach to the genre. In so many words, Cabin is both a celebration of and a funeral for the American horror film.  And that's why it's so gosh darn brilliant.  And so hard to classify or review in a traditional manner.

Now I don't mean this in any way as a critique, but I will say that Cabin In The Woods is almost more brilliant after the fact than it is while you're watching it.  At least that's how I felt about it.  To me it's more about the thoughts and the feelings the movie stirs up in the horror fan, with that message behind it all coming before even the entertainment factor of the movie.  Mind you the movie is totally fun and entertaining the whole way through, but for me it was only after I left the theater that I realized how much I truly loved what I just saw.  But maybe that's just me.  And again, that's not a criticism.  It's just so brilliant and bold that it takes some time to fully sink in.

Cabin In The Woods, I fuckin' love everything about you.  You are the perfect horror film for our time, a loving hate letter to the genre that I feel like you stole from my heart and my brain.  Good things come to those who wait, and you're all the more awesome because we had to wait so long for you.  So thank you for living up to the wait and hype and for being so boldly committed to your balls out message.  Oh and thank you for finally allowing me to fulfill my long time bucket list goal of spending a Friday the 13th in a cabin in the woods.  Wink wink.

Again I say, try and go into this one as blind as you possibly can.  Just buy the ticket, take the ride, and let me know what you think when you get off.  And you most certainly will be getting off after that ride, in more ways than one.  I can guarantee you that you've never seen anything quite like this before!


Rian Nielsen said...

Super excited in anticipation of my buddy getting out of jail tonight so we can finally go see this. Excellent job of hyping without spoiling here.

Another film I'd like to add to the list with "BtM:TRoLV" and "Scream" is "Rubber." That's a movie I saw as a deconstruction of and direct challenge to the Hollywood horror moving making mentality.

Here's to hoping "CitW" makes some bucks so the studios don't have to go back to poisoning us.

MWillgruber said...

This movie was fan-fucking-tastic. I felt like a giddy little kid the whole time. Best time I've had in a theater in a while.

MJ said...

I saw it in a packed cinema. You could tell the horror fans througha combination of beards, tattoos and black t-shirts.

The rest of the audience would laugh at the 'stoner' jokes but that was all. On the way out you could really tell the audience was split between love and derision, based on your knowledge of these films, Lovecraft etc.

Still, I f'n loved it.

Johnny said...

Hah ya, the one thing every audience seemed to unite over was the stoner dude.

Frank Browning said...

I found myself ROARING with laughter the entire time... I loved that the cabin was a faithful representation of the Evil Dead Cabin... I'm still trying to take it all in, but it's definitely my favorite horror flick in decades!!!

Anonymous said...

Johnny, have you read "The Phantom of Pulps" reveiw of "Cabin in the Woods", its like the exact polar-opposite of what you and everybody else seems to think.

Johnny said...

Anonymous - Just checked out the review over there. To each his own. Wouldn't expect everybody to feel the same way I do about the movie. Wish everyone loved it, but I could totally see why someone wouldn't in this case. It's not for everyone!

anthony smylie said...

Watched it last weekend(im from northern ireland) and found myself to be one of the only ones in the cinema who actually 'got it'. Amazing horror fim. Best ive seen in absolute ages. Wish more horror would get theatrical releases like this.

Rian Nielsen said...

Checking back in after having seen it. Review is up here:
It was okay, but not really a horror film or even a "loving hate letter" to the genre. Seemed more like a bad movie they tried to spin after it was made like that kid in art class trying to justify the parts of his work done poorly.