Film Fridays – ‘The Cabin in the Woods’

Film Fridays is a project initiated by Sarah and I. See previous posts for a longer preamble!

We would be delighted if you would join us! We don’t necessarily want to talk about the nerdy technical details but more about why these films speak to us as individuals, why they have a place in out hearts, and any personal memories they evoke. 

‘The Cabin in the Woods’ (2011)

The trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NsIilFNNmkY

Readers will know of my love of comedy/horror mashups. Their time was really in the 80s so this movie was something of a pleasant surprise.

The plot starts out with the not unusual formula: group of teens spends a weekend in a deserted rural cabin. They are the typical horror-movie mix: the jock, the sex kitten, the stoner, the clever one, the virginal one. However it soon gets turned on its head when we are shown that this is a deliberately formulaic setup that has been manipulated by the technician occupants of a huge underground facility beneath the cabin, and that the horrors about to unfold have to happen in order to prevent something far worse….

So, what do I like about this movie?

Well the writing pedigree is, in my opinion, unbeatable. It was written by director Drew Goddard and producer Joss Whedon who had worked together on several of the iconic TV shows created by Whedon, including ‘Buffy’ and ‘Angel’. What this tells me is that the dialogue is going to be a delight – nobody writes dialogue for an ensemble cast like Whedon. And so it is – the snappy, funny, dialogue and the characters really bring this movie to life.

The movie was intended as a spoof or satire on the poor state of the horror genre at the time, which had become too reliant on ‘torture porn’ and lacking in any humour or imagination. It works in the same way as ‘Scream’ does, but I find it far more fun than ‘Scream’.

Of course the group of teen stereotypes, not unintentionally, bears a strong resemblance to the human protagonists in ‘Scooby Doo’. Especially hilarious stoner Marty (Fran Kranz) who is basically ‘Shaggy’.

It looks great too. They were determined to cram in every type of horror-movie monster that they could think of. And they all look utterly amazing – with the exception of the Merman, which I suspect was deliberately ‘B-movie’ in appearance. This does of course mean that the monsters are convincingly horrific. And a lot of fake blood gets used too – so not for the nervous perhaps.

Some geeky facts:

The movie finished filming in spring of 2009, but due to financial wrangles was not released until 2012. At the time it was made the actor who plays the ‘jock’ character, one Chris Hemsworth, was best known as an Australian TV soap actor. By the time it was released he had become a major Hollywood star as a result of being cast as ‘Thor’ in the Marvel movies. This probably did ‘Cabin’ no harm at all as far as box office was concerned.

A number of alumni from Whedon’s TV shows, including Amy Acker from ‘Angel’, have small roles in the movie.

Creature and make-up effects were done in part by actress Heather Langenkamp – who had previously played the protagonist in the ‘Nightmare on Elm Street’ movies and was now running a special effects company with her husband.

There were over 60 different types of monster makeup, applied to nearly 1000 people in total.

I am not going to spoil it but right at the end there is an appearance by a certain female genre icon whose voice I recognised before she appeared on screen. I genuinely did not know she was in this film so it was such a great surprise!

12 Comments

  1. I so need to watch this film!! (And not just because of a certain Chris Helmsworth. 😉) Love the look of that poster by the way! And Joss Whedon convinces me every time – so cool that Amy Acker also makes a small appearance, love when that happens. 😀 And a resemblance to Scooby Doo is always a teaser in my book. 😄 It’s funy, I never thought of the horror genre as declining but you’re right! Although I have to admit that I haven’t watched many horror films in recent years – watching the news is sufficient in that regard. 😂💕

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You would love it Sarah. I chose it after our conversation recently about Whedon and his TV shows.
      Agree with you regarding the news and that, for me, is very relevant. Horror movies used to be an escape – they usually had a fantasy or supernatural element that made them just implausible enough to be escapism. The ‘torture porn’ genre made everyday nastiness and sadism into entertainment and degraded the true horror movie in the process.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I couldn’t agree more! They’ve turned the genre into something awful. I remember going to the cinema with friends to watch Scream and how fun that was – don’t believe this to be possible for today’s horror movies. 🙁

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Joss Wheldon is forever in my favor after Firefly, so I’ll have to remember this one even though I’m terrified of horror movies. I like the premise though, a fun twist, with lots of good reviews, too. Looks like you chose another unique one!

    Liked by 1 person

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