We all know how some films are going to go. It’s not that they’re tired and predictable, though some of them are, of course. It’s just that with certain genres come certain expectations, certain tropes that we see played out again and again. Boy meets girl and they hate each other, so of course they’re an item by the end of the movie. A ragtag sports team of misfits can’t win a match until their unorthodox new coach breathes new life into them. Someone pretends to be something they’re not to win the affections of another, until the liar is revealed and all seems lost until the inevitable happy ending.
And, of course, the inevitable demise of the partying college kids who visit the creepy cabin in the woods.
Cabin in the Woods is a film about a group of college kids who go to party at a cabin in the woods. More importantly, it’s a film about why they go to party at a cabin in the woods. It’s about why you can watch a horror movie and go ‘surely I’ve seen this before, but with vampires?’. It’s about why you find yourself throwing your arms around and screaming ‘don’t go out there alone, what, are you high?!’. Everything happens for a reason, you see. There is a method to the madness.
What’s so great about this film is you can enjoy it as a meta treatise on horror films, or you can just sit back and enjoy it on its own merit. The cast are clearly having a great time, and in the last third the film just sort of goes ‘ah to hell with it’ and explodes in a shower of blood and monsters. It’s also all very funny at times. But if you look only a little a bit deeper, you can appreciate it for what it actually is – a love letter to the form of horror movies.
It’s very difficult to talk about Cabin in the Woods without spoiling its central conceit, which is an excellent framing device for the action revolving around the unfortunate cabin-visitors. It’s really quite clever, and by the end of the film your questions are all answered and wrapped up very satisfactorily.
Now, let’s all split up and go explore the spooky forest alone…