Sunday, May 13, 2012

Movie Review: The Cabin in the Woods

 This movie was awful, despite its arguably novel approach to the horror film.  I am certain that the screen-play was better than the film.  

 I have to do it.  Here be spoilers.

 Five friends in college are taking a weekend trip out to the country to a cabin in the woods to get away from it all.  You have the smart and sensitive girl who experience with men is limited.  Her best friend is somewhat more out-going and just dyed her hair blond.  The blond's boyfriend appears to be a jock, but is in fact a sociology major.  As they prepare to hit the road, their stoner-buddy appears for the trip.  

 All that is missing is a great-dane.

The secret to success is making work fun.
 In addition is an actual jock who is also a sensitive intellectual and is being set-up for the story's female protagonist, the smart and sensitive girl.  I have a problem with how cliche all of this is, but that is the point.  This group is meant to be the common horror-film group, going to a common horror-film scenario, to face a common horror-film situation.  In fact, they will face all the common horror-film situations.

 Throughout the initial introduction, the scene cuts to what appears to be a government base where two mid-level technicians are overseeing a project which involves setting-up this group for their trip to the cabin in the woods.  What they are doing is so commonplace that all the technicians from different departments within the organization participate in a betting pool.  The routine is actually entertaining, with enough slap-stick office banter to really drive home the point that these people are all very jaded to the events they create.  

Chicks dig creepy forests.
 My problem with this is that the foreshadowing is too much.  You know what is going on far too early in the film.  You are introduced to the two technicians before you even meet the fated group of young men and women.  They are being sacrificed.  Not only are they being sacrificed, it is a coordinated effort with other teams in other nations around the world.  The point of the sacrifice is to satisfy some supernatural forces need for blood and suffering.  It becomes a moot point whether it is Satan, aliens, or ancient gods (it is the latter).  

 Had this aspect of the film been introduced as the protagonists discovered it, it might have been better.

 The rules for the sacrifice require five young people; an athlete, a whore, a student, a fool, and a virgin.  The whore must die first, and the virgin must die last.  At some point the whore must get topless.  The five must volunteer to be slaughtered through their own transgressions, in this case going into the basement of the cabin and selecting from a variety of weird objects found there, each related to a different kind of monster and grisly fate.  The virgin is the only member of the group which can be allowed to survive.  If the sacrifice does not follow these guidelines, the Ancient Ones awaken and the world as we know it ends.

 You know all this about half-way through the film, and most of it within the first 30 minutes.  

They do the Mash.  They do the Monster Mash.
 The protagonists are chemically groomed for their roles.  For example, the girl who dyed her hair blonde for the trip is being affected by a chemical in her hair-dye that inhibits cognitive function... making her a "dumb blond".  The sociology student is being given a chemical which increases aggression, making him act like the "alpha male".  At one point pheromones are used to increase the likelihood of a sexual encounter.  Even the environment is controlled; the technicians can change the ambient temperature of the entire area and increase or decrease the moonlight to set the proper mood.

 The stoner is the fly in the ointment.  The marijuana is inhibiting the chemical effects, and he sees what is going on.  He doesn't see it in time, but he pieces it together enough for he and the heroine to make their way into the complex itself and inadvertently release all the horrors kept there into the complex.  

 The film is meant to be cliche, a sub-plot which introduces the real plot.  As I stated, the film gives too much of itself away too quickly, so the revelation of the real plot is not really a surprise.  I found myself waiting for them to just get to the point as the zombies shambled about the woods searching for their prey.  The acting was fair, given that each character was meant to be a stereotypical caricature.  The monster effects where on par with today's horror films.  I was disappointed to see among the gallery of ghouls a Pin Head wanna-be, especially since these monsters where all supposed to be from our past.  

 Sigourney Weaver must not have had anything better to do.

 The final reveal at the end was also a disappointment.  Just a giant, but clearly human hand?  Come on.

 What other reviewers are raving about with this film, I must have missed.  To me, it was just a way to piss away $30,000,027.... $30,000,000 in production costs and $27 for my tickets and popcorn.

 We should have watched The Avengers