And You Thought It Was Safe(?)

The Cabin in the Woods (2012)

Our finally-finished-almost-a-year-later review of the finally-released-three-years-after-completion 2009 horror film from director/co-writer Drew Goddard and producer/co-writer Joss Whedon, the team behind some of my favorite episodes of Buffy and Angel. (Sadly, Drew didn’t join Team Buffyverse until shortly before the end of the former and the cancellation of the latter. But I don’t hold that, or Cloverfield, against him.)


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Cabin in the Woods was a fantastic film. Hopefully, Joss will do more work in the horror genre after he tires of Avengers. I do wish you had gone more into the landscape changes of the horror genre between 2009 and 2012 though.

Comment by Daniel Knepp

I wish I’d gone into that, too. Pulled the camera back, as it were…but doing so would’ve made things at least ten minutes longer. Best to save those rants for another time, or at least stagger them out. You heard the Indestructible Cheerleader (I know, I know…but Hayden Panettiere will always be Claire Bennet to me): there’s a long list of opportunities for me to talk about the Rise and Fall of the American Horror Film in This Benighted 21st Century. Though I’ll gladly spoil myself by saying 2012 was, actually, not that bad a year, from a purely numerical standpoint. Certainly better than 2008, the year that probably inspired Cabin‘s initial conception.

As far as my inner horror fan’s concerned, 2008 was an evil, evil year. But at the time my inner comic book fan’s jubilant celebrations (“An Iron Man movie and a Batman movie in the same summer, neither of which sucked?!?! I must be dreaming.”) drowned out my inner horror fan’s cries for help. Just look at the top ten highest grossing horror films from that year (not the best metric, I know, but better than nothing). You’ll find:

-1 sequel, right at the top (Saw 5, the last of them to hit #1 at the box office before Paranormal Activity seized their throne)
-1 Adaption of a 2003 novel from the author of A Simple Plan (The Ruins, which played like more Torture Porn thanks to the intervening five Saw films, and their influence.)
-1 Spanish haunted house movie no one saw…not even me. (The Orphanage – its English-language remake is still “in development” at the time of this writing.)
-6 Remakes (The biggest being Will Smith’s I Am Legend which barely counts, since it has little to do with it source and came out in 2007’s pre-Christmas season…but there it is. Then there’s Prom Night, which is Prom Night. The remaining four – Quarantine, Mirrors, One Missed Call, and Shutter – are all remakes of non-English horror movies, none more than 5 years old at the time, and made specifically because Hollywood thinks we’re too stupid to go see a movie with subtitles.)
-And last, though not least because it should’ve been first, we have Let the Right One In. Which got its own English-language remake in 2010, to the surprise of absolutely no one.

2012 had 3 sequels in the top ten (Paranormal Activity 4, Silent Hill 2, The Collection), and the whole list is warped by the presence of Prometheus (so that’s one kinda-sorta-prequel-but-not-really), but English-language bastardizations are nowhere to be found and you have to go all the way down to the 20s before you find a Nostalgia Remake (Silent Night). I suppose that’s something. If we could somehow limit ourselves to a maximum two Exorcist rip-offs per year, we might actually start getting somewhere.

Comment by David DeMoss

You should see The Orphanage, it’s actually really, really good.

Comment by professormortis

Consider it added to The Black List. Though if I wind up not liking it the horse’s head will yours to wake up to. Movies from 2007 tend to…hurt.

Comment by David DeMoss

I approached this as not a horror fan (though I’m vaguely familiar with the genre), and not a Whedon fan – but I ended up in much the same place as you. The snarky kids are wearing when they’re the only focus of attention, but the control room scenes break things up enough that they didn’t grate on me the way they did in Buffy. The characters are underdeveloped, but the setup makes their underdevelopment part of the point.

Sure, it’s not perfect. But it comes a lot closer than, well, pretty much any other film I saw last year.

I find it faintly bizarre that, once this film had come out, anyone could contemplate churning out yet another generic horror remake. But of course they do and they are.

Comment by RogerBW

And they’ll continue to do so. And I’ll continue to see them; separate the time-killing distractions from the complete wastes of everyone’s time. At least they pushed the Carrie remake back to October, giving me that much more time to work on any potential Carrie-athons I may or may not be planning. Actually, a lot of the remakes I was dreading have gotten shoved into 2014, including my new favorite source of rage, RoboCop. Perhaps the abysmal failures of Total Recall and Red Dawn have taught someone, somewhere, a lesson.

Then again, those were primarily action movies (obvious SF elements of both notwithstanding), and horror movies are easier to remake. Most re-makeable action movies (which now means 80s action movies) were star vehicles and most of those stars are still alive, more than willing to return for one last go round…or seven. Horror movies are a name and a monster costume to most of Hollywood’s decision makers. Been that way since at least the 1930s (as my pile of Universal Monster Movies will attest), and it’ll remain true as long as people value comforting familiarity above…well, everything else.

Comment by David DeMoss

While all of that is true, I’m still looking forward to the Evil Dead remake. The red band trailer makes it look like it has balls, and I can’t believe they brought back the rape tree!

Comment by Daniel Knepp

Well it wouldn’t very well be an Evil Dead remake without an angry molesting tree, now would it? Balls are easy to come by. 49% of the population’s got ’em. I’m more interested in whether or not it has any brains. But we’ll put a pin in that to explore sometime around…let’s say, April 17th.

Comment by David DeMoss

while this film was quite a ride(no pun intended-I realized about a nanosecond before Hemsworth’s demise what would happen,and I roared when it did;it was also much fun watching Miss Weaver bring Ripley to a conclusion that involved punching someone in the face),for my satirical dollar I prefer “Tucker And Dale Vs. Evil”. Perhaps living in the Deep South (O what a Horror) shades things for me,but T&D almost gave me hope.It’s the first time I haven’t hated a Southern Drawl in a couple decades….

Comment by Todd Puglisi

A decent Southern accent would be enough to get me watching for sheer novelty alone. Despite never having seen Tucker and Dale at the time of this writing, I have seen several of my contemporaries compare it, favorably and otherwise, to Cabin in the Woods. Behind the Mask is often mentioned in the same breath and praised for getting many of the same things right. Obviously, I’m going to have to go on some manner of satirical horror movie kick as soon as I foil my Evil Self’s plan to drive me mad with all these New Releases.

Comment by David DeMoss

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