WHYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY?! Oh WHYYYYYYYYY?! Why have you done this to me? No. NO, NO, NO. Wrong! You ruined it!
(taking a deep breath)
‘Cabin in the Woods’ has one of the best setups of any horror movie I have ever seen. It has a fantastic twist to the standard “cabin in the woods” idea and makes it exponentially more horrifying. And funny. Ah horror movies. How easily you can sometimes walk that line. While, in a way, the setup has been used before, this is the first time I have seen it done within the horror genre. It is important not to give too much away about it, though, as the surprise of it really does add to the movie watching experience. What I can say is that it starts off with the standard “group of friends going to a cottage/cabin/campground” idea, and, of course, something goes horribly wrong.
I really cannot commend the opening idea enough. I was thoroughly engaged and felt like I was going to see something epic. The guy who wrote this movie (Joss Whedon) is the guy, after all, that also directed ‘The Avengers’. What could possibly go wrong?
Lots of things really. He inevitably falls into many of the pitfalls of the standard horror movie, and worse, he clearly came up with the opening idea before he had the ending, and could never quite nail the ending down. This is one of the most difficult aspects of writing horror movies I imagine. There are two opposing forces when trying to come up with an ending. One, make the ending original. Two, don’t make it stupid. Initially, that may not seem too hard, but considering the vast library of horror movies already, combined with over-the-top evil such as other dimensions, hell, and other abstract concepts, well…it just makes sense that there are a lot of stupid, similar endings.
On the one hand, this movie delivers a mostly original ending. On the other hand, to get there, a plethora of nonsensical coincidences have to be journeyed through. With as well organized as certain things were in this movie, fail safes should have been put in place to make the ending, as it is, impossible. These fail safes were removed to allow the ending to happened and to have a phenomenal visual experience in the last twenty minutes. Unfortunately, with the start of the movie, I wanted more than just the visual experience. I wanted something epic. I received standard fare.
He tried to have his cake and eat it too. The rules of horror movies are cleverly analyzed in the first half of the movie, but in the last half hour, are completely succumbed to. In a normal horror movie, the ending would have been acceptable. Again, visually, there were things that any horror fan would love to see. Unfair as it may be, with an epic setup to a movie, an epic ending is expected and, in that respect, the ending fails.
On top of this, one of the “heroes” of the movie left a little to be desired. It is impossible to delve deeply into this without giving away parts of this movie. I will just say that with the tone the movie set, there should have been more realism associated with the characters.
Perhaps the rating of 3.5 is a bit harsh. The humor alone, which there was plenty, should maybe have made this a 4.0. It is just the intense disappointment of coming so close to watching genre greatness and not getting it.
(Spoiler): The pot smoking character kind of turned out to be annoying. There is a reason why the comic relief character in horror movies comes to a gruesome demise somewhere in the middle (or nearer the beginning) of the movie. They get tiresome. They cannot be the voice of reason and the comic idiot. It is too much of a conflict of purpose for the short time span of a movie. Also, the chances of this person, who is typically under the influence and not suited for any kind of fight, surviving is the worst of them all, which makes his survival turn out to be frustratingly unbelievable, not cheer inducing. Clearly, the angle behind this was motivated by a pro-pot agenda. The pot smoker is the voice of reason. The pot smoker can survive when superior fighters cannot. The pot smoker is immune to mind control gases. The pot smoker saves the day. While I have no problem with a pro pot theme if done subtly, it does bother me when it starts to interrupt the realism of a movie. Horror movies have enough of an uphill battle to create the realism illusion as it is. It does not need an additional factor to disrupt that illusion.
(Spoiler): Also there is a bizarre, unnecessary, and somewhat miscast cameo at the end of the movie. It did not affect the rating at all, but I still wonder what they were thinking.
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