A lot of people are going to compare Cabin in the Woods to Scream. Or maybe they already have, I don’t know (research? pfft.). Both movies seem to fancy themselves as a kind of “deconstruction” of the horror genre. Despite this, there is one major difference between the two: Cabin in the Woods is way better than Scream.
*daintily pulls white glove off of hand, uses it to slap Wes Craven across the face*
To me, the “revolutionary” premise of Scream has always sounded like something a couple of stoned film-school freshmen would come up with. “What if we made this totally generic slasher movie with no plot twists, BUT the main characters were always talking about SCARY MOVIES!” “Whoooooaaaaaaa!?” And the critics go wild. I guarantee you if Craven’s name wasn’t on the marquee, that movie wouldn’t have made a dent in the zeitgeist. Cabin in the Woods might not either (and is, in fact, not really that scary), but as it stands, it’s way more imaginative, and endlessly entertaining.
For one, to talk about the plot of this in a review would be to ruin it for those who haven’t seen it. That, in and of itself, is pretty absurd for a horror film in 2012. Fans of horror like myself don’t always give two sh*ts about plot, but Jesus, are these dire times for the genre. Don’t! Wait, let me guess…A bunch of people die in gruesome traps. Or, maybe, a spooky child kills in death because he was wronged in life. GAH! SORRY IF I RUINED IT FOR YOU!
Anyway, to focus solely on whether or not it is subversion of horror is to miss the point, which is to be entertaining. Crazy, right? The entertainment factor does largely comes from poking fun at genre conventions, but it somehow never feels like it’s up it’s own ass. To lay them all out here would be to rob them of the ingenious execution. Get this: the burnout stoner? He’s actually the voice of reason here! Whaaaat? The dumb blonde? Dye job! I don’t think I’m giving too much away, plot wise, but trust me when I say that these ideas don’t come across nearly as ham-fisted or obvious in the movie as they do on paper (er, internet). The characters themselves are also given enough personality so that, were this a traditional shock-and-gore affair, it would actually be a half-decent one.
I would also like to point out that you will find a lot of references to past horror auteurs, like Stephen King, Clive Barker, and HP Lovecraft. These manage to be quite obvious to even the most casual horror fan, without being too winky or nonsensical (I’m looking at you, Paul). And I’m only gonna say one thing about the third act: it totally delivers the goods, and will easily be one of the most paused-and-examined sequences ever, when the DVD and Blu-Ray come out.*
If you’ve seen any of the marketing, you are probably aware of the “Evil Dead meets The Truman Show” setup the movie starts with. Even that over-simplification would make for a pretty interesting flick. Trust me when I say that, like the protagonists here, even the most jaded horror fanatics will be surprised where The Cabin the Woods takes them.
Side-note: For anyone who is curious, I am not a Whedonite. I liked the Firefly show and movie, and Dr. Horrible. Everything else he has done gets a resounding “meh” from me.
*And I’m not talking about boobs here. Though, you do get some boobage early on. B-cups at best, though, so don’t get your hopes up.