General warning: Cabin in the Woods is considered to best be watched blind, as in, not knowing anything about it before you see it. In fact, the best thing you can do right now is not read this review, just head to the theater, and watch it. However, should you read this review, be warned there are some things that could be considered spoilers. I’ve tried to avoid it as much as possible, though.
The plot of Cabin in the Woods starts off simple enough. Five friends go to (wait for it) a cabin in the woods, where they manage to unleash horrors on themselves. Hell, that’s been the plot of about 50% of horror movies out there. Maybe not exactly, but five friends go to a secluded spot where monsters come out and slaughter them. Which is exactly what the movie is out to deconstruct, parody, and generally relies on the audience knowing the tropes.
Obviously, things start going very…different very quickly. As I said, it’s generally considered that the less you know about the movie, the better the experience is going to be, but I’ll go ahead and say a few things that are in the trailer (which I really DON’T suggest watching, since it spoils some major plot points). The main thing is that there’s people involved in controlling what they’re doing in that cabin, and that they become half the movie.
In fact, the movie is rather skillful in flipping that switch between horror and comedy. Now, it can certainly go in the middle, and shows that off a few times. But what we really get is the pure horror as the kids are stalked and killed off…and then this quickly gets turned on its head as we cut away to the control room and find out more and more. The controllers becomes the filmmakers of these kinds of movies, ultimately uncaring about the people’s fates as long as they get killed off and follow the formula. And they’re doing it all for the audience, who absolutely needs the nudity and violence. There’s probably an essay about the horror genre that could be written here.
The movie is great throughout, but it absolutely comes together in the final act that it’s a shame I can’t talk about. Let’s just say it’s supremely bloody, absolutely hilarious, and ultimately asks some big questions about morality and what the characters end up doing. It also rewards viewers, paying off tons of foreshadowing. This is intelligent horror where it could’ve just deconstructed, but it set up a good movie along the way. It’s like it’s showing off how to make horror while simultaneously ripping it apart.
Cabin in the Woods is just one of those experiences that comes along and rips the genre apart. Horror is struggling along, and if this movie is effective at all, it may have just killed off one of the most formulaic of its subgenres. An early must-see for this year.