100 movies: The Cabin in the Woods

Every year I set myself a target, usually of about 100, of films to watch. These are new films. Not new, new films. But films that are new to me. Any time I’ve seen a new one, I post a bit of a brain dump of my thoughts on the film here. Enjoy!

Just a little warning. While I tried to keep this review of mine spoiler free, I haven’t really been successful. It’s been impossible for me to really talk about what I enjoyed about this film without having a few spoilers thrown into the mix. So please don’t read this if you’re wanting to see the film and haven’t yet. It’ll only ruin your enjoyment. And I don’t want to do that. Above all I don’t want be the person to be blamed for that!

The Cabin in the Woods The Cabin in the Woods (13/04/12)

Five friends go for a break at a remote cabin in the woods, where they get more than they bargained for. Together, they must discover the truth behind the cabin in the woods.

Poor Cabin. It’s been kicking around for such a long time. At one point it was looking set for a straight to DVD release. If that at all. Thankfully someone saw the light and spoke up and years later it got given a release date two weeks before Joss Whedon’s big arse film for the year, The Avengers. Oh and also using the whole Friday 13th angle too. Good move!

Here you’ve got your typical set up. Teens. Creepy cabin in the woods. Creepy dude at the petrol station warning said teens. You’ve got all your checkboxes for your typical horror film ticked. But then you’ve got Bradley Whitford and Richard Jenkins’ characters clearly involved with something, but what? (BTW, did they kill it or what? Both of these guys stole the show whenever they were onscreen. Great bit of casting!)

The rest of the cast was great. A pre-Thor Chris Hemsworth makes for a good jock. Though Fran Kranz’s stoner was the highlight out of that bunch. Who’d have thought? I remember him being the only cast/character in Joss’ Dollhouse that I liked. Kristen Connolly’s vulnerable Dana is the kind of character that you know well in the world of Joss. She’s brilliantly written and I empathised with her throughout.

Joss and Drew’s script was fantastic. I loved the witty dialog. It was smart and clever. There didn’t feel like a pointless word. The same could be said for Drew Goddard’s direction. Every shot felt deliberate. It was all insanely smooth flowing and guess what guys? No shaky cam!

The ride was amazing. Being a massive horror film fan, I was ticking off all the nods I was getting thrown with. Everything from Friday 13th to Evil Dead via It and The Strangers. META is definitely the word of choice when describing this film. Is it why it looks like it’s being enjoyed a whole heap more by critics rather than your average audience? I think I might have been one of the very few to have genuinely loved the film in the screening I was in!

When the gore started flying, it really started flying. Blood, guts, everything, everywhere! Deaths were gruesome and painful. Not to mention relentless. I think the zombie with the bear trap could give the big horror film players out there a run for their money.

Then there’s the ending. Some people said it was too out there. Too over the top. Too out there. Why not go out there? I hazarded a guess at the purpose of the teen’s trip to the cabin while watching the opening titles – something to do with ritual sacrifice. Yep, I was right. I wish I wasn’t! Though, it didn’t take any enjoyment away from the film.

Finally, I’m wondering a little bit about the film’s trailer. The fact that they do say that Cabin isn’t your average horror film. So there was a different level of expectation. But then again, had the marketing bods not put that little disclaimer in, would it have made the cinema going masses more disappointed?
Rating: 5/5

Read on to see all the films watched this year…

28 Films so far this year

  1. The Tourist 1/5 (02/01/12)
  2. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo 5/5 (03/01/12)
  3. World’s Greatest Dad 2/5 (14/01/12)
  4. Haywire 3/5 (19/01/12)
  5. Dead Snow 3/5 (20/01/12)
  6. The Artist 5/5 (21/01/12)
  7. Priest 2/5 (05/02/12)
  8. The Muppets 5/5 (15/02/12)
  9. Faster 4/5 (19/02/12)
  10. Chronicle 4/5 (22/02/12)
  11. Safe House 4/5 (24/02/12)
  12. Reservoir Dogs 4/5 (25/02/12)
  13. This Means War 4/5 (02/03/12)
  14. The Royal Tenenbaums 3/5 (03/03/12)
  15. Reign of Fire 3/5 (04/03/12)
  16. Dear John 2/5 (04/03/12)
  17. Road to Perdition 5/5 (05/03/12)
  18. The Three Musketeers 3/5 (06/03/12)
  19. The Eagle 2/5 (10/03/12)
  20. Everybody’s Fine 2/5 (14/03/12)
  21. Frankenstein 4/5 (15/03/12)
  22. Love and Other Drugs 2/5 (15/03/12)
  23. You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger 2/5 (17/03/12)
  24. The Big Lebowski 5/5 (18/03/12)
  25. The Hunger Games 3/5 (23/03/12)
  26. Headhunters 4/5 (07/04/12)
  27. Super 1/5 (07/04/12)
  28. The Cabin in the Woods 5/5 (13/04/12)

31 comments

  1. Great review, glad it’s got another fan! Loved the corporate types and the bloodbath at the end. Interesting how no one mentions ‘the’ cameo at all in their reviews but probably best!

    • ‘That’ cameo was great! I remember hearing the voice over going through the offices and mentioning that it sounds like a certain actress. And I was pleasantly surprised that I was right!

      The corporate goings on really made me think of Office Space – your typical office. It was great how at one point, you could relate to what they were doing. Then suddenly… it wasn’t quite what you were thinking!

  2. Hi, Jaina and company:

    I kind of wandered over here from Scott’s FRC.

    Very cool review!

    ‘Cabin in the Woods’ sounds like an updated and modernized version of the old Richard Matheson classic, ‘The Legend of Hell House’. With creepy corporate/government types and their techs keeping the players in the game as long as possible.

    With Whedon playing with the screenplay and script. It sounds very much worth a watch!

    • Hey! It sounds like it’s got elements from Legend of Hell House, from what I have read from IMDB as I haven’t seen it. Though The Cube sounds a lot like that too. Cabin has got that extra something else that’s best left untold until seen!

      Joss is a good director, but I think I love his writing more than anything else. He’s got a way with words and how he writes characters. Check it out!

      And thanks for stopping by :D

  3. I had a few problems with it, so I wouldn’t 5/5 it… Namely 1) The jumping back and forth between the sci-fi/control room undercut the horror for me and 2) I definitely thought the end was weak.

    Doesn’t mean I didn’t like it though. Lot of fun, I enjoyed it quite a bit.

    Glad you loved it Jaina!

    • I was umming and ahhing over giving it 5/5 for a long time. Then went through the list of my films I’ve already seen and realised that I loved it a heck of a lot more than a lot of films I gave 4/5. I don’t do half points. This was so HARD!

      The ending was a curve ball – not a twist, a curve ball. I thought it was brave. Refreshing too.

  4. This one is a whole bunch of fun mainly due to the constant twists and turns this story takes. I think it runs a bit out of steam by the end of the flick but I can honestly say that it was one of the funnest horror movies I’ve seen in quite some time. Good review Jaina.

  5. Huh, 5/5. Interesting. This movie has been on the radar for a couple years. I thought it was going straight to DVD too. I’ve heard mixed reviews. One blogger gave it a 1/5. Fog’s gave it a B+. I’m so confused! LOL

    I don’t think I’m going to see this movie on the big screen, maybe on DVD. I love horror, but I’m just not too sure about this film. I must admit, including your review, there are more positive reviews then negative.

    • I was stuck, big time, when it came to scoring this film. But I rather maybe slightly overscore this than under. I would say it’s a close 4.5/5 but I am being strict and not doing half points!

      It’s a good film to see in the cinema I’d say. Though, probably fun at home, huddled on the sofa too.

      If you love horror, I would say you’d love this. It’s like a horror film fan’s paradise.

  6. I shall definitely check this out for myself. I wasn’t really anticipating it, mostly because I don’t care much for horror movies but this sounds awesome!

  7. I had no idea this almost went straight to DVD release. I’d think w/ Mr. Thor in the lead and being out on Friday the 13th has plenty going for it. Well clearly this was quite popular at the box office, coming at second place. In any case, this is too spooky for my taste though.

    • I think it was filmed back in 2008/2009. I know it was getting kicked off when Joss was either just about finishing up with Dollhouse or in its final season. So a very long time ago!

      Too spooky? Awww shucks! Not even watching it through hand covered eyes?

  8. I want to read your review but I prolly won’t get to see this for a while. I shall have to remember to come back and read.

    I am tempted to spoil myself tho…

  9. I enjoyed the film quite a bit too. Great review. I will def say that the ending left something on the table for me.

    I did, however, like the fact that the film wasn’t as happy-go-lucky as other horror films have been. I liked so much about the film. I gotta go see it again.

    • Definitely. In amongst the horror and some of the laughs of it, it did get pretty damn dark. As an audience member you knew that they were all going to die. Most horror films these days you go into them knowing at least one will survive. But think Cabin did a good job of making you believe and know, that no one was really safe.

      I want to see this again too! Am hoping it gets a quick release onto blu-ray. Oh, and it gets a tonne of awesome extras.

  10. I’ll have to come back to your review after I see this over the weekend (hopefully), but I am very pleased to see it get a 5/5 from you! Now I have to see what everyone is raving over.

  11. Very interesting review but I’m gonna have to slightly disagree with it :P

    The Cabin in the Woods was a decent effort, and I certainly appreciated the genre-twisting and witty humor that was used throughout. As far as saying it has a fantastic script, I wouldn’t go that far, I thought it was right off Hollywood how-to-make-a-script work for the average audience, especially for the people trapped in the cabin. It was what surrounded the “typical horror film rules” that made it, at times, a fascinating film to watch.

    A lot of people loved it because it’s different, and I give it that much, it certainly was atypical. Neither a horror film nor a satire. Even though I was entertained and I appreciated a lot of the twists, the turns, the comedy and the over-the-top satire that was scattered throughout, I wasn’t particularly moved, or scared, or impressed and I didn’t laugh much. It was a film that starts with a set of rules that are consciously placed to be broken, tied up very loosely and without focus. Once things started unraveling, the rest was just film makers throwing stuff at us, mostly in the form of more monsters and more blood.

    It didn’t help I wasn’t particularly surprised by the ending, and I was not a fan of all of the characters, in particular of the “virgin”, who instead of innocent was downright bland.

    All in all, it was certainly a better than average effort for me. A 3/5. I’m thinking of whether I will review it or not since there’s just a storm of reviews flying about.

    In any case, I appreciate your point of view, and we’ll just have to agree to disagree.

    • I can agree with that… your last statement that is! It’s definitely one of those films that has cut the viewers in half with one half raving about it and the other camp wondering what that other camp is raving about.

      The ending didn’t surprise me either. Though, I’m not entirely sure tit was meant to. It certainly added some finality to the ending that few horror films do these days.

  12. At first I thought to past this one up, but I’m relieved it doesn’t sound too much like a typical horror movie! When someone compared it to Evil Dead, I was pretty much all ears! Mayyyy give this a watch.

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