Cabin in the Woods – 2012 – dir. Drew Goddard
I gave up on Slasher films after Saw V. I know, I’m a bit weird for having stayed that long in and of itself, but that was definitely the point where I gave up on 2000s slasher and horror films because there was nothing new coming out of the mainstream industry as far as I could see. Around Oscar season this year I heard some of my favorite subversive critics talking about Cabin in the Woods as both a great Slasher film and a great parody thereof. After finally having seen it, there’s no doubt that its very good, but it doesn’t live up to the quality of Wes Craven’s Scream which is obviously wants to be.
The story is simple and familiar. Five friends go to a cabin in the woods for a “relaxing” weekend. One couple (an athlete and a cheerleader), one potential couple (a prude and an intellectual), and the conspiracy theorist friend finds their way into a creepy part of the house and unleash the evil spirits that start ripping them to shreds. All the while we have Bradley Whitford and Richard Jenkins sitting in an control room watching everything as it unfolds. There are cameras recording everything going on in the cabin and they are betting that… something will happen.
This intrigue is what keeps the first half of the movie interesting and makes the reveal fun. But once we know what’s coming (or more accurately see what has arrived), things slow down. The last half hour of the film is big and action filled, but after a few minutes I was craving more of the witty clever and genuinely scary action from the first hour.
This film is a breath of fresh air in terms of slasher films, but it does fall into some of the trappings that horror/action/adventure films have been doing lately. However, I think it’s clear that we need fans of horror to write and make horror because they know how to make it work.