THE CABIN IN THE WOODS is one of the more bizarre genre offerings of the last few years. Filmed in 2009, the film was originally supposed to be released by MGM which, unfortunately, had to file for bankruptcy, leaving CABIN in limbo for the past three years. Only now, as a result of new distributor Lionsgate, has the film seen the light of day. I honestly wish that the same fate would befall ALL THE BOYS LOVE MANDY LANE, a 2005-lensed teen horror offering that is still not released Stateside. While MANDY LANE offers up horny high schoolers at a house in the wilderness, that film has a nice twist ending that the audience does not really see coming (plus, it has Amber Heard!). CABIN, on the other hand, offers no such surprise because the audience is in on the plot twist from the get-go. While we are kept in the dark as to why things happen the way they do in CABIN, by the end of the movie we’ve been on a roller coaster ride that, while running the expected hour and-a-half-length, the film feels a lot longer.
Part TRUMAN SHOW and part “Twilight Zone” episode, CABIN, reviewed here on Blu-ray by our very own Dave Dreher, does what horror films have been doing for a good long time: giving us horny, attractive young adults in the form of The Jock, The Slut, The Intellectual, The Pothead, and the Virgin, archetypes befitting of a Peter Greenaway outing. However, the filmmakers are in on it and they want us to be in on it, too. This is an over-the-top wink at the audience. For a while anyway, it’s a fun ride. Parts of CABIN even remind me of 1981’s HELL NIGHT.
From the start, all of the action is controlled by some sort of government-like agency, for reasons that become apparent by the film’s end. The lead characters are led into a basement within the titular dwelling and find all sorts of knickknacks and anecdotes supposedly containing a maniacal history of horrific events that occurred on the first floor. This sequence is actually beautifully lit. In reality, of course, all of this has been scripted by the government-like agency in an effort to get the aforementioned characters to sink further into their trap for nefarious purposes.
If all of this sounds confusing, it really isn’t. It just isn’t particularly interesting. Some who have never seen this type of scenario in a film before will no doubt be wowed by it, and that’s fine. I don’t want to sound like I’m poo-pooing the whole affair, but going into this movie on the basis of word-of-mouth of a few trusted confederates, I suppose I was anticipating more than the filmmakers were willing to give us. There is a great deal of bloodshed in the film for those with a taste for such fare, as well as a good deal of computer-generated imagery. By the end of the film, I was taken aback by the appearance of Sigourney Weaver, the last person I would have expected to appear in the film such as this.
The film is available on DVD, on Blu-ray, and in a digital copy, but it’s not the sort of thing I could see myself watching more than once. THE CABIN IN THE WOODS comes off more as an interesting curiosity than as the groundbreaking horror film I was led to believe it was. I can honestly say that I share Dave Dreher’s sentiments on this one.
The extras consist of:
Audio commentary with writer/director Drew Goddard and writer/producer Joss Whedon
“We Are Not Who We Are: Making The Cabin in the Woods” featurette
“The Secret Secret Stash” featurette
Hi, my name is Joss and I’ll be your guide
Wonder-Con Q&A with Joss and Drew
“An Army of Nightmares: Make-Up & Animatronic Effects” featurette
“Primal Terror: Visual Effects” featurette
Definitely worth a look for no other reason than to hold your own and admit familiarity with the film while in mixed company discussing the genre.