Cabin in the Woods (2012) – Drew Goddard (Dir.), Chris Hemsworth, Richard Jenkins, Kristen Connelly, Anna Hutchinson, Fran Kranz, Bradley Whitford
Ah, a return to my roots. Yes, this was the ultimate choice for my Spooktacular Hallow-Mooney Watch-a-thon 2012. Like the prodigal son returning to his homestead, bearing the bounties which he has reaped after hours upon hours of watching both brilliant and turd-ilicious films, I came back to Cabin in the Woods. To those of you who read this blog with some regularity, you might know that this is the film that encouraged me to begin writing on the Interwebs in the first place. Unfortunately, it’s faint praise. When this movie, the brain child of Joss “King of Hollywood, Apparently” Whedon and Drew “That Other Guy” Goddard, appeared on my radar a couple of years ago, sporting several rather uninspired, blood-red posters, I looked at it. I mehed. I moved on. And then, my hetero-life-mate managed to steal himself a seat (perhaps at the demise of other unbeknownst theater-goers, I haven’t asked and he hasn’t told) at a preview of this glorious batshit experiment in meta-film. He returned declaring one thing, “YOU MUST SEE THIS MOVIE IMMEDIATELY” and whet my palette with only a single, nonsensical spoiler: “There is a scene where Richard Jenkins is staring at a TV showing a bunch of Japanese girls and yells, ‘Fuck you, fuck you and fuck YOU.'” Well. How could my critical testes not wet themselves with anticipation? And why do my balls get wet? Is that something I should see a doctor about? Is it just sweat or some kind of unhealthy discharge? Anybody who has an medical advice, please don’t share it because it is embarrassing. Moving along…
When it came out, I saw this movie twice in three days. That’s right, TWICE IN THREE DAYS. It was at that moment, on my return from the second viewing, that I realized I had seen nothing of substance in months and, thus, in my
pitiful delightfully whimsical singlehood, I turned on Melancholia and have never looked back. How appropriate then, should this movie be for viewing on Halloween night, surrounded by my movie-junkies and other assorted nutcases friends? Like the old dude in the Seven Samurai, or Yul Brynner, or some other bald gentleman of gravitas, I marched from village to village, recruiting the greatest warriors this land had to offer! (Translation: I made a Facebook event). We had the original, Alex “Steve “The Hurricane” McQueen” Huntsberger; his companion, the Queen of Snark, the Surfer of Internets, the Uncomfortably Knowledgable about Game of Thrones Meg; Vanessa: The Bearded Lady; Theora: Frida “Holy Unibrow Batman!” Kahlo; Alex “Stranded Because of a Hurricane” Lubischer; Zack: The English; Erin “Ladies Who Lunch” Coleman; and of course, my lady of Vanderbilt. It was a crew worthy of a motion picture! But, instead, we settled for snacks and copious amounts of wine. As the libations flowed, the popcorn was nommed, and the candy, OH THE CANDY, was stuffed into mouths, we pressed play on this modern classic, sat back, and watched.
Alright, there will be spoilers. But if you don’t know what this movie is about already, shut up. Cabin in the Woods follows a quintet of college pretties on a clandestine weekend in, that’s right! A CABIN IN THE WOODS. Of course nobody has been there before, nor does it show up on any maps, and it is blatantly guarded by a man who makes every creepy-Deliverance-obsessed uncle seem like a Corgi that farts candy and dreams. But they don’t care. They want to get high, hang out and have SEX. Shock! Horror! Well, he’s the twist. Apparently, the whole thing is being engineered from an underground super-sci-fi and white-collar-as-my-pale-butt facility. We are treated to the sweetest of candied cuckoos, Mr. Bradford “Yes I know He Was in the West Wing, Now Shut Up” Whitford and Richard Jennings: BAMF Extraordinaire. These two gentlemen herd the unsuspecting coeds into situations stickier than a jam explosion at a glue factory. After inadvertently raising a family of pain-worshipping zombies from the dead, the kids have to survive cliche after cliche, all the while being picked off in a terrifyingly specific order to appease the bosses down below. It’s a clever, hilarious and completely surface examination of the horror genre in general. Goddard and Whedon attempt to unravel horror storytelling from country to country by giving it a supernatural overtone, but, like my latest alibi for ‘Who Ate the Cookie in the Cookie Jar?’, it all falls apart under close scrutiny. It’s fun, it’s dumb in its witticisms. But, and this is a big ‘but’, it is ALWAYS entertaining. From making out with wolf heads, attack bongs, Chris Hemsworth’s speech before biting it, mermen, unicorns and dismemberment goblins, this is a movie that offers up more gems of pure enjoyment than a mine staffed by Christopher Walken impersonators. I believe, upon every viewing, I never cease giggling for the final twenty minutes. For some, it’s too much. For others it’s 20,000 Leagues up Whedon’s Asshole. For me, it is a wonderful simultaneous send-up and homage to a genre that I both adore and detest depending on the time of day.
As you may have read in my ‘review’ of Tommy Wiseau’s work of genius, The Room, there is an incredible sense of ritual, of snark-tastic community, of joined souls fighting against and for a greater good, in viewing a film with a group. This movie, on it’s own, is great. But, in a crowd, half of which have seen it and the other half haven’t, it is a fucking blast. Soon, catch-phrases are born, the squeamish ones hide during beheadings while those in the know chuckle with abandon. This is what I truly love about movies. With a thing such as this, everyone knows when to be quiet, when to joke, when to laugh and when to hide. It’s a roller coaster that doesn’t exactly reinvent the wheel, but it sure has some amazing stops along the way. And, watching people who have never seen it trying to figure out what the fuck is going on during the opening scenes is a sport that reaps greater rewards than anything involving balls or bats or grown men piling on top of each other in a massive group hug in order to… Okay, side bar, I don’t get American football. I really don’t. What the fuck are they doing? Why are they doing it? And what about this sport involves feet?
Knowing that Cabin in the Woods received a less than lackluster opening at the box office and that it’s fandom, though small, is fervent, I hope it lives on in the greater pantheon of cult films. It shall earn its place beside Nightmare Before Christmas, Troll 2, Rocky Horror Picture Show and all the rest of the motley crew. And, though it is neither as brilliant nor as revolutionary as it might think it is, it’s one fuck of a ride. Get friends. Get drinks. Get dumb. Let the bodies hit the floor and laugh when they do. Because, I don’t know about you, but I find grievous bodily harm fucking hilarious. Maybe I should talk to someone about that.
Oh! Also, I dressed up as Doctor Who with my lady as River Song. He is a picture of us being pretty and dorky in equal measures. Thank god High School is over and those two things are no longer mutually exclusive.