Warning: Mild spoilers here.
Argh! This sh*t is driving me nuts. The general response to The Cabin in the Woods, as far as the internet goes, seems to be falling into two camps: People who haven’t stopped rubbing one off to it since day one, and those who think it’s a pretentious failure at attempted subversiveness. Here’s the thing, though. F*ck all of you, you are all wrong.
This is like watching a political argument where both opponents are wrong and it’s because they are too busy trying to disprove the other side. If you think The Cabin in the Woods is some kind of “game changer” that turns horror on it’s head, you are giving it waaaay too much credit. I’m not gonna lie, I loved it, but the fact that it puts a spin on some genre conventions was deep in the background for me. What it offered up, in droves, was pure entertainment. The fact that it was somewhat cleverly plotted and shouldn’t be spoiled if you want to enjoy it, says less about this movie, and more about how absolutely sh*tty most horror films are anymore. “The writers actually put thought into entertaining us in a surprising way? Game changer!” No, f*ck off. Just a good movie.
And the second camp is comprised of those who just read too much from the first camp. These are people who sit in the theater with their arms crossed grumbling, “Just TRY and impress me,” before the lights even go down. Just watch the goddamn movie, and judge it as such. If you try to review it like it’s this big attempt at deconstruction, then you are just playing into the hands of the first group. And, as we’ve covered, they are wrong. It’s not some puzzle to solve or a test you have to grade. LOOK: there’s some tits. OVER HERE: Motocross jump into an invisible force field. HOLY SHIT: dude was just gored by a fucking unicorn. That sound like art? No. But, if you don’t find that entertaining as hell (especially the unicorn), then, hey, let’s never be friends.
Lastly, I know a lot of people are dismissing this outright because they don’t like Whedon. I am not a Whedonite; he has done some good (Firefly, Dr Horrible, did script work on Toy Story and Roseanne), and some not good (er, mostly everything else). The main problem is his obnoxious-ass fanbase. He’s like Anime; wouldn’t really have anything against it if it didn’t have such an annoying, skeevy fanbase. And the thing is, neither him, nor co-writer/director Drew Goddard, set out with any grand illusion about what they were doing. Read any press interviews with them, like this one from The AV Club:
AVC:So for the benefit of those people, how would you describe this film?
DG: This movie came from a place of love…we just love horror movies, so we sort of set out to write the ultimate horror movie. At least, the best one we knew how to do. And so it’s really just kind of taking our love of the genre and giving the audience the most fun time we can possibly give them in a horror movie. That’s our goal.
VC: Do you feel like the horror genre is in a healthy place right now?
DG: I do. I think it’s like any other genre. There are good movies, and there are bad ones out there.
That sounds to me like a dude who is fine without trying to pull off a “game changer”, who just wanted to try his hand at something he loves. Stop laying your imagined ambitions on him, then scoffing when he fails. If you are a horror buff, there’s probably more to be had.
I had the pleasure of seeing the movie in Bumf*ck, Pennsylvania, where I live. A lot of the people seemed to get a kick out of it, but there were plenty who thought it was just stupid. Congratulations, you guys just watched a movie. Sometimes, it’s good to live in flyover country.