Films | Movie Reviews | Cabin in the woods – Film Review

Cabin in the woods – Film Review

Posted by FATEMA H.KAGALWALA on June 1, 2012 | No Comments

PRODUCER – Joss Whedon
DIRECTOR – Drew Goddard
WRITER – Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard
CAST – Kristen Connolly, Chris Hemsworth, Fran Kranz, Jesse Williams and Anna Hutchison
MUSIC – David Julyan

Horror, like romance, is a genre that is as easy as it is difficult to get right. The target is our emotional centres and the means chosen, ultimately affects the outcome. Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard choose an interesting route, part-psychological, a bit mythological, and then cerebral and also physiological. So much so that it perfectly avenges Whedon’s popular definition of his film, as a ‘loving hate letter’ to the horror genre.

Five friends set out on a trip to a remote cabin in the woods where creepy things happen to them. This seemingly clichéd plotline is then turned on its head with the revelation of a team of technicians, in an underground operations centre that is monitoring and manipulating their experiences. The five friends, chosen as archetypes as dictated by an ancient ritual, are sent to meet their horrific deaths as part of the ritual that demands hi-tech, orchestrated sacrifices else the Ancient Ones rise and devour the entire earth’s human population. They are even given a quasi free-will to chose their own death with (without their own knowledge, of course), a cruel sort of joke upon the dual concepts of destiny and free will.

Done with a singular focus on either of the elements, scientific, mythological or for-the-sake-of-it bloody horror, it wouldn’t have worked. The film invests in its characters and gives us meaningful people even behind the archetypes its puts them in. Interestingly, it drives the attention upon a silent comment made on the genre itself. The cabin setting, the blood-churning murders at the hands of zombies, the characters, (a much-in-love, frisky couple, two serious, single people, one doped out, good-hearted eccentric) all are borrowed from the tropes of regular horror fare but not used to manipulate emotions, they just form a structure, almost a meta-structure within which the real film plays out; that of the ancient ritual and the larger, much-debatable question of whether earth is really better off with species other than humans ruling it.

There is enough humour and wit as well as blood and gore to entertain and shock. Visually it is presented realistically, even the zombies and other fiends who look delectably real. But stark psychological horror is missing, almost as if the film doesn’t really ‘aim’ to creep you out but do something else. There is no eerie music, permeating smoke, faux horror encounters used as set-ups to shock later and so on, because the film aims to set another sort of mood. Horror fans would more likely be enamoured by spotting the film references (Hellraiser, Scream to name a few) then clutching their arm-rests. However, this much cerebral approach to the horror genre works in an exciting way as the film unravels as a puzzle, not a breathless ‘what happens next’, but with a consistent unpredictability that keeps us hooked right till the end.

FATEMA KAGALWALA

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