The Cabin In The Woods

MARK LINFORD dives into the horror cliches of the genre-bending Cabin In The Woods.


Rule No.1: if you find yourself in a horror film, never have sex. You will almost certainly die.

Your marginally more intelligent (and less horny) friends will discover your mangled body and proceed to battle against whatever alien/ghost/zombie/psycho has decided to ruin the fun of your care-free road trip.

The Cabin in the Woods (Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard of Buffy the Vampire Slayer fame) brilliantly takes the genre to task in a hilariously self-aware, acutely postmodern look at society’s macabre fascination with beasts, blood, ghosts, guts and terror. As the deliberately cliché title suggests, there is much more to this film than ‘tits and a scream’. (Incidentally, Piranha 3DD, arguably self-referential in its own unique way, has that covered).

Action is split between five friends on holiday in ‘the cabin’, and the mysterious activities of two non-descript office workers at a futuristic facility. The film’s punch lies in its twists and inversion of expectations, but without giving too much away, chaos ensues in a spectacular genre-bending style.

Yes, there are horror staples in good supply – jumps, gore, suspense and lashings of blood – but put together with action scenes that wouldn’t be out of place in James Bond. The dialogue is consistently sharp as it rips apart (pun fully intended) horror movie tropes – above all, this film is funny.

Fran Cranz deserves special mention for his performance as Marty, pot-smoking ‘fool’ and unlikely hero, whilst a brief homage to Japanese horror is heart-warming and truly inspired. The final sequences are so entertaining and high-paced hat the ending seems slightly weak – but by then you’ll be glad to relax and enjoy the final twist.

The film actually finished filming in 2009 but was sidelined after MGM filed for bankruptcy. However, its release now couldn’t be more appropriate. The Cabin in the Woods plays perfectly into the current vogue for all things dystopian, seen in the success of The Hunger Games, and similarly raises questions concerning the voyeuristic tendencies of today’s society. If you wished for more grit and gore in the latter, then this is your film. There are some truly disconcerting moments which rightly critique the recent rise of so called ‘torture porn’ franchises: Saw (1 through 7), Hostel (1, 2 and 3), The Human Centipede

If you love horror films then definitely see this movie. There are tributes to be spotted, with similarities ranging from The Shining to Monsters Inc. Sigourney Weaver (the Alien films) even makes a late appearance.

But if horror films are not usually your thing, then definitely see this film. It’s smart, funny, and only a 15 certificate (no wimping out). An early contender for best film of the year, everyone will be asking if you’ve seen this one.


  • Plodding Along

    This is a rip off the Telegraph review/wikipedia. Get some original ideas. Also the film is fine; weak ending, & literally no twists, just a very steady progression through a fine story. Perfectly enjoyable, probably not worth the 10pounds of a cinema ticket, wait for it to come out on dvd. Or don't watch it. It's not all that.

    • No.

      Rip off? I'm pretty sure there really aren't many similarities between this article and those other than that they're all about the same film.

    • orangewednesdays

      £10?? What cinema do you go to?

      • Sam

        cineworld don't do 2for1s on studentbeans any more, IT'S A FUCKING DISASTER

  • Cpt Reynolds

    It's Joss Whedon, not Josh Whedon

  • 2Many Parantheses

    This review is pretty bad. The office workers are certainly not "non-descript", expectations are deliberately fulfilled in a parodic way, not inverted – the whole point is that you can see what's going to happen a mile off because it parodies the conventions of horror films – and I don't even know what "action is split between five friends on holiday in ‘the cabin’" means. In all, badly written. You've basically copied out its wikipedia page, anyway.

    • Just trying to help

      Have you tried reading beyond commas? You know, that way you'll get the bit about the action being split AND the office workers. But then again, if you think dependent clauses are parentheses, it's not surprising that you grammatically disregarded half the article.

  • asr

    Most of the film is making fun of horror cliches and stereotypes. I don't think that either don't like or don't watch horror films will be able to appreciate it as much as people who do.

  • Blargh…

    All this film achieves (probably intentionally) is to show that the post-modern, horror film subgenre is as cliched as all horror films. Wes Craven and Michael Haneke nailed the whole aware-of-the-medium thing back in the 90s with the Scream movies and Funny Games but only now are filmmakers are clocking on to the fact that you can appeal to a greater audience if you dress up a load of pointless gore and crap characters with a bit of self awareness. Gore lovers go for the gore and the rest go to enjoy the irony and feel as though they are above the gore.

    Thankfully the 'twist' at the end of this film is so incredibly shit and cheap that nobody can leave feeling entirely satisfied. Gore lovers are robbed of true horror because the self awareness steals all the tension and post-modern clever bobs are left feeling stupid when the twist makes the film cheaper than the cliched horror that their thought they were above.

    • funny wierd

      Funny Games is a brilliant film – haven't seen Cabin, but now that I've been reminded of it, I'm just going to rewatch Funny Games instead

    • Theo B-P

      This is the point I would have made if I was more articulate

  • Logic ftw

    the writers were HIGH OUT OF THEIR FACES when they penned this.

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