Anthology of Interest: The Cabin in the Woods
Wednesday, April 18th, 2012
By Mike Girard
“Yeah, I had to dismember that guy with a trowel. What have you been up to?”
I’m an enormous fan of Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead series, having been introduced to it at the tender age of 12. The first two movies contain some of the most gruesome nightmare fuel known to man, like the scene where zombie-Shelly bites her own hand off and gets axed into several gooey pieces. You see, before CGI completely changed the special effects industry, directors and actors had to deal with all the gore and carnage in person. The blood and guts were right in front of the camera – this closeness makes older horror flicks that much more chilling. For example, take this scene from John Carpenter’s The Thing in 1982. Fair warning, don’t eat anything before you watch it. Notice the abundance of fake blood and alien guts. All of the effects in that film are real – that means the alien spider-head-thing is somewhere in the world right now, lurking inanimately in the shadows of an attic or prop warehouse. Just a thought.
So what does that mean for The Cabin in the Woods? Well, after seeing this film, I’m confident that director Drew Goddard is an even bigger Evil Dead fan than I am. He managed to pay homage to the blood-n-guts style of ’80s horror movies and tell a genuinely interesting and original story at the same time. With some clever casting and comedic writing, Goddard and co-writer Joss Whedon turned a cookie-cutter teenage horror film into a movie that works on two polar levels – several times, I went from excited laughter to cautious fear.
You’re never really sure whether the film is serious or not. For example, a series of scenes intertwined with the horror tale shows two lab technicians who seemingly exist outside of the story, played by Richard Jenkins and Bradley Whitford, take bets from their co-workers on the film’s choice of stereotypical monster. The winning horse ended up being something along the lines of “zombie rednecks pain-obsessed torturers.” I also glimpsed “regular zombies,” “merman,” and “unicorn” among the betting options.
I’m very thankful for this movie. The usual horror film will have at least two characters who simply cower in the face of their attacker. Minutes roll by as the zombie/werewolf/whatever closes in on the limping or mentally scarred roommate. After a long and frustrating struggle, the girl dies, and the monster goes on with his rampage. This film, on the other hand, moves as quickly as an action movie. I guess it helps when the stereotypical jock character is played by Chris Hemsworth, the guy who played Thor. I was glad to see him tackle the first zombie with all the hilarious gusto of a sarcastically oblivious Norse god.
Go see this movie. It only costs $5.00 before 6 o’clock, and it’s now one of my favorite entries in the ever-amazing horror comedy genre.