Saturday Fright Night Fever #4 – “The Cabin in the Woods”

At this point I think I am forced to call ‘bullshit’, because I am having a real difficulty understanding, why “The Cabin in the Woods” is being universally hailed by the critics as the most magnificent and genre-redefining horror in recent history; the 92% critical score on RT is not an easy feat to achieve. I have to say that during its theatrical release, I almost ended up buying the ticket to see it, but was instead coerced to see “The Hunger Games” and given my indifference bordering on disdain towards the latter, now I can safely admit I am glad to have seen Jennifer Lawrence run about with a bow in this mediocre young-adult version of “Battle Royale”.  That’s right, because “The Cabin in the Woods” sucked so bad, I couldn’t believe anyone in their right mind could enjoy watching it, let alone praise it. Fortunately, I didn’t have to pay diddly-squat to watch it, as it is available on Netflix – not that you should go and watch it anyway…

Right, so I decided to give this film a go, sat down in the dark just after midnight, put my headphones on and pressed ‘play’. So theoretically, I had everything one would possibly need (darkness, solitude and sensory exclusion from the outside world) to watch a horror film and get the most of it, but by the end of this 95-minute-long ordeal I couldn’t stop laughing – and not for good reasons – as I could only think in memes that involved Patrick Stewart as captain Picard.

the-cabin-in-the-woods-poster-artwork-kristen-connolly-chris-hemsworth-anna-hutchison

Plotwise, “The Cabin in the Woods” is basically “Evil Dead” with a twist. You’ve got your bunch of friends (Kristen Connoly, Chris Hemsworth, Anna Hutchison, Fran Kranz, and Jesse Williams) who hop into an RV and head for the mountains to spend a weekend in a secluded titular cabin in the woods. Normally, in a horror scenario, there would be demon, a family of inbred cannibals, a serial killer, or a deadly virus waiting for them, but this is where “The Cabin in the Woods” serves you a twist to the genre. It turns out that their weekend excursion is a meticulously devised ploy to trap them in the middle of nowhere and rain horror on their heads. You see, beneath the cabin there’s an underground command center of some sort ran by God-knows-who, whose employees find young people, make them come to the cabin and unleash something bad onto them for some weird reason.

The group settles into the cabin, we get to know the characters and identify the archetypes here and there, so that we have a better idea who dies first and why. Soon thereafter, the guys find a ‘hidden’ cellar filled with various knick-knacks and they end up reading a passage from an old diary that somehow brings a family of zombies wielding farming tools to murder them… and the hunt begins…

I said it once and I’ll say it again: I have no idea why this film scored so many gongs. First of all, it’s not even a horror film, because there’s maybe one scene that made me feel not indifferent and it had nothing to do with the violence, the hunt, the zombies, or any other shenanigans that ensue in the third act; and let’s face it – by the end of the movie everything goes bananas and “The Cabin in the Woods” loses any shred of decency by the time the credits start rolling. And cheap-looking werewolves, Jabba the Hutt miniatures, or poorly designed CG giant snakes and spiders are not really helping… So, in the interest of clarity, “The Cabin in the Woods” fails terribly in delivering a horror experience. I understand that certain films within the genre don’t intend to scare like haunted house films would, but what I have just seen here is beyond reproach. I don’t want to draw any parallels towards this year’s “Evil Dead” remake, which would make a perfect example how a secluded cabin scenario can be played, so that the viewer ends up overdosed on adrenaline, but I think it would simply come across as cruel.

 

I didn’t care about wooden acting, as I see it more as a staple of the entire genre, but it’s the story and execution that made this film such a torment for me. What I was looking for, was an adrenaline rush filled with tense moments, a hefty amount of violence and a fast-paced survival horror. Well, I got nothing… “The Cabin in the Woods” is not scary at all and the violence it sports is far from what you’d want to see in a horror movie. It’s all cheap thrills and red sauce (and I’m convinced that most of the blood and gore was CG) punctuated with attempted comedic relief served in a salad that’s simply inedible.

I think I understand what the creators were trying to achieve with “The Cabin in the Woods”, with the not-so-subtle references and the overall comedic tone of the film, but I’m sorry to say it didn’t work for me. It seems that every now and again somebody out there will try and come out with a film that’s intended as pastiche that turns the genre on its head and plays on clichés and archetypes commonly associated with it to create a new and refreshing look at a horror film. But there’s a line which should not be crossed.

A perfect example of a genre-redefining pastiche is “Scream” by Wes Craven, which plays all the notes a movie geek will recognize, tells a story that’s very typical and filled with your standard character types, but serves the genre justice. The film stays true to its roots and retains seriousness, so the violence is real, gore is real and the scares are real. On top of that, we are all engaged in the story by trying to figure out who the killer is, and while the plot is simply a variation on the icons of the genre, “Scream” never ever crosses the line and descends into pointless comedy. Sure, I had a laugh or two while seeing it, but laughing with the film is completely separate from laughing at the film – which I did profusely whilst watching “The Cabin in the Woods”.

Whoop-dee-flippin-doo, “The Cabin in the Woods” not only crossed the line between a pastiche and a downright mockery, but pretty much danced a cha-cha on it, as if to piss me off. Simply put, this film is “The Scary Movie” of the survival horror sub-genre, because it comes really close to being disgustingly stupid and not at all funny. It’s a cheap hunk of poor horror that wants to be smart but isn’t. I am seriously considering taking the time and effort to track down all the critics who called this piece of garbage ‘genre-redefining’ and throw feces at their houses – that’s how terrible this film was. I get that it was supposed to be a joke, but some jokes are so stupid you actually feel sorry for the poor schmuck who came up with it while at the same time you feel annoyed at yourself for actually agreeing to listen to it in the first place. A waste of time – that’s what this film is…

And one more thing: Sigourney Weaver should really consider retiring… Just saying…

 

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