Review with Spoilers. And blank bits.
When my other half declared the other week that we were going to watch a horror film, and it seemed I didn’t have too much of a choice in the matter, I braced myself for impact. You see, I’d heard of Cabin in the Woods. I’m pretty sure there was a lot of hype from The People Who Love Horror (forever now known as TPWLH because it’s quicker to write). I was also reasonably sure that I’d already read the plot of the film on Wikipedia, and pretty much promised myself there was no way on earth I would ever watch that flucking film. So naturally, I double-checked said plot. This pretty much re-affirmed my initial thoughts.
After I got over my initial trauma, I realised that I could simply do with this film as I had done with all others – spend it paying meagre attention out of one eye, whilst reading stuff on the internet and paying attention to the music, which told me when I could and could not safely look at the screen.
I therefore set myself up as I always had – laptop consuming most of my attentions, and ignoring the derision given to me by my other half.
The first half of the film… or maybe two thirds… was spent paying “kind of” attention. You know, the kind of attention you pay other people when the football is on, or when you’re drunk and waiting for your turn to speak before you forgot what your point was. I gathered the following basics:
– stereotypical group of teenagers, not too far from the adult version of the Scooby gang. Including the stoner, the jock, the clever one, and the pretty one. As a side note, I’m starting to learn this is a standard mixture of characters required in horror films, and I have therefore made the life-enhancing decision of avoiding clustering all of these types of people in to one room, until I’m at least 40.
– said teenagers go to a spooky old abandoned cabin
– there’s creepy stuff, and this creepy stuff decides on what sets off the horror stuff that has to kill them in order to satisfy some kind of ancient ritual.
Okay, I’m with the plot. The plot… doesn’t need me to pay attention, that much is clear. So some zombies appear, which I get mildly excited about, purely through professional interest. The stereotypical deaths begin to occur (the makeout death, the “where the fluck did that person go THERE for” death, and the “we’ve nearly escaped… wait… NOPE” death. In and amongst this there is the juxtaposition (which is nicely done, by the way) of these deaths being clinically orchestrated by an underground “lair” of standard office people, who bet on lovely mundane things such as which horrific killers our starlets are going to pick.
Anywho, you can sense where this is going.
There are survivors, and they find the underground lair. This is where I put my laptop to one side, because it was flucking fascinating. The first two thirds of this film seemed pretty… meh. The last third is quite possibly the most amazing piece of horror cinema I have ever borne witness to. Admittedly, I haven’t watched that much horror, but I have read the plot to practically every horror film since 1980 on Wikipedia and the last third of “Cabin…” is full of homages to, influences from, and fantastically inspired by monsters from every depraved crevice of this genre’s deep imagination.
There’s a unicorn, for fluck’s sake. There’s also a clear nod to, whilst I couldn’t catch them all, The Shining, Hellraiser, lots of zombie films, Anaconda, The Evil Dead, the brain of Guillermo Del Toro, The Ring, King Kong it was… it was captivating. The amount of blood, gore and horror made it easily watchable because there was no suspense, there was just complete and utter carnage.
There are much better sites dedicated to these monsters than you will find in my paltry rambling, and I recommend you check them out, especially this one here. But even though the first parts of the movie were standard formulaic fare, I would say it’s worth wading through for this last third alone. Unadulterated horror binging, with excellent delivery.