Monday, April 16, 2012


Never in my career as a horror journalist/enthusiast have I written a review completely devoid of analyzing the plot.  Today, I will attempt to do so if only to save my readers from spoiling what currently ranks as the best widely released horror movie I've seen in nearly five years, if not longer.  From the trailer, it's easy to gather that this film follows the typical formulaic horror plot of teenagers stuck in stereotypical archetypes and their fight for survival when things go haywire in a secluded cabin in the woods.  It's a story we've seen dozens of time and usually with the same results.  Luckily for us, The Cabin In The Woods takes this formula and doesn't just spin it, it throws it into a proverbial hurricane.  The fact that this film has been sitting on a shelf for a few years absolutely blows my mind.  The fact we've cranked out remake after remake and let this collect dust is a downright crime and I pray to the universe that this sort of situation never happens again. This film is near-perfect. Depending on my gratuity, I'll go on record and say it IS perfect. I consider myself a bit of a general cinephile outside of just horror and I have never, EVER, had such an incredible experience watching a film.  Everything leading up to the film was absolutely perfect, it was almost as if I was meant to see it when I did. 

After a long day of horrifying the Chicago natives around the city with fellow horror aficionado Zach Shildwachter, we found ourselves headed to the beautiful AMC River East theater to catch an evening horror movie before dinner.  After watching our colleagues explode with positivity all over social networking sites, there was absolutely no doubt that we were going to see The Cabin In The Woods.  We ran up the escalators and at 5:58pm we bought tickets for the 6:00pm screening.  We didn't even check movie times, this was a sure fire sign that fate had allowed us to catch the flick.  On our way into the theater, we were greeted by a duo of sweet old ladies armed with surveys and baby pencils.  Lucky us, Lionsgate was interested in our opinion of the film.  I sure as hell hope these women actually work for Lionsgate, because I would buy just about anything they were dishing out.  The audience was the perfect size and everyone seemed genuinely excited to be there.  Unlike some of my more recent theater going experiences (I'm looking at you midnight premiere of The Hunger Games) the audience was actually engaged in what was on the screen rather than sitting balls deep in a round of Draw Something.

The Cabin In The Woods does something very quickly that many modern/mainstream horror films fail to do; develops characters I actually give a rat's ass about.  Right off the bat we were given characters that were far more than one dimensional with delightful dialogue that was eerily similar to the conversations I have with my own college buddies.  The dialogue throughout the film had a perfect balance of realism, humor, horror, suspense, and curiosity.  Not once did I ever feel as if they were getting carried away with references like many have done before (you hearing me, Diablo Cody?).  None of the characters ever felt wasted to me and even the smallest of supporting characters were memorable in their moments.  I made sure that the special cameo wasn't spoiled for me and that was a very well welcomed surprise. I gotta hand it to all involved because as far as script writing goes, this one is top notch.  This is undoubtedly one of the most well conceived horror stories in AT LEAST the last decade. 

The film does a fantastic job at throwing us horror geeks some Easter eggs and plenty of homages to our beloved genre.  There's an impressive combination of practical fx and CGI that kept me audibly responding throughout the film. Everything from recreating classic scenes, slipping in characters highly inspired by horror classics, or paying tribute to horror references that only the huge nerds in the back row will catch is sprinkled throughout the film in the most cohesive way I've ever seen it.  The Cabin In The Woods should be pictured in the Urban Dictionary definition for the word "meta" because it is the truest example I've ever seen.  This film completely exposes the horror(and film in general) fan's desire to continually follow our working format and rather than talk down to us for it, the filmmakers have managed to never once insult the audience's intelligence.  It grabs genre conventions by the balls and different from a film like SCREAM, The Cabin In The Woods is able to morph the convention twisting into the damn heart of the entire film.  We all knew Joss Whedon was an under appreciated genius outside of the fanboy culture, but hot damn.

To put it simply, this film needs to be seen rather than reviewed.  It's not that spoiling the plot will destroy any shocking reveals, it's just that watching it unfold is far too exciting of a moment to ruin it for the audience.  If you can, please do everything in your power to see this movie.  If this film kills in the box office, this will be our message to the movie industry that audiences want more original horror films.  This film is worth far more than the $8.00 movie ticket, I promise.  The Cabin In The Woods delivers to horror fans absolutely everything new we've been craving on a silver platter of everything about horror that we've already come to know and love.  This is the future of horror, ladies and germs. Welcome to it.  

2 comment(s):

Michael Kamp said...

Just letting you know - I read: "Today, I will attempt to do so if only to save my readers from spoiling what currently ranks as the best widely released horror movie I've seen in nearly five years, if not longer."

Then I skipped the rest of the review, not wanting to spoil anything.
The cabin in the woods sounded like a run-of-the-mill slahser, but now I'm going to the theaters :-)

Unknown said...

I think in the ensuing years this film is going to be discussed by many folks as one that acted as a gateway drug to horror, much like Evil Dead 2 did in the 80s. It's freaking gold.

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