There are a bajillion reviews of Cabin in the Woods on ye olde interwebs and since I don't think mine will be all that different, I propose we have a discussion. And by "we" I mean me. But by all means let's make this a discussion and comment below.
But in case you're wondering... I loved it. I absolutely loved it. I thought it was funny, engaging and (dare I say) even scary at times. One last notice before we get into the swing of things, THERE WILL BE SPOILERS. This post is intended for those who have seen the film and have some questions, comments etc...
And now, in no particular order...
Is The Cabin in the Woods a game-changer?
I'm talking about "game-changers" in the sense that it will alter the industries perception of the horror genre, possibly opening it up for re-examination or the dreaded CITW knock-offs. Some examples of "game-changers to me are - Scream (1996) which led to God knows how many ironic detached teen slashers... The Blair Witch Project (1999) which led to a lineage of "found-footage" movies each one more "real" than the last... Saw (2004) which helped the Torture Porn genre find mass market appeal.
While it's too early to tell for sure now, I would hazard a "no". After only being in theatres it opened decently at #3, now by the same token Scream opened small and word of mouth helped it say afloat for weeks at the box office while it gained momentum in 1996. But a game changer requires a big box office for the industry to see it as a financially viable investment. With CITW word of mouth and good reviews (it's currently at 92% on Rotten Tomatoes) it could well pick up again. However, in the last few years there has been a resurgence of Meta-Horror-Films such as Tucker and Dale Vs. Evil, Behind the Mask, The Innkeepers... So the "game-change" has already happened. If anything I think it will lead an audience to these already released films.
For my money CITW is the best because of its ambition, scale and breadth of knowledge. I think CITW will find it's footing but because of the internet hype it already seems like a big deal which may or may not be to it's benefit.
Is it a horror movie and is it scary?
For me, yes. The concepts and themes are horrific even if they are dealt with in a detached manner. Horror movies, as I've said before, are deeply personable. One person who I saw it with was not scared by it while I found myself hiding my eyes and bracing for a scare, which to me means it's working on a horror level... For instance when Dana and Marty are in the underground jail for the demons, ghosts etc I was well freaked out when Pseudo-Pinhead just stared at Dana. Eerie as fuck that was. It wasn't nearly as traumatic as The Woman In Black for me, but it worked.
Interestingly, here's a comment from Josh Whedon on the topic of what kind of horror film it is:
Well, you can only go so far with ironic detachment, and then ultimately, you stop being invested in something. What Scream was great at was presenting ironic detachment and then making you actually care about the people that were having it, and juxtaposing it with their situation, all in the service of making a great horror movie. It was fresh. We wanted to make sure we never went so far with our awareness of popular culture and horror movies and the kids’ awareness that things were not as they should be—we never wanted to go so far that you would step outside… Like the end of Blazing Saddles, where they walk out of the Western onto the lot, which to me screams “Copout!” I’m a Blazing Saddles fan, but you never want to go that far. You want the integrity of the world. We live in the world. Unless you’re writing about [Cabin villains] the Buckners, about people who aren’t aware of how things work in popular culture. But you don’t want that to be your benchmark. You don’t want that to be what the dialogue’s really about. (Source)
What place does free will have in this film? What weight is given to it?
It's interesting because as an audience member we're aware the characters are losing their free will but it is in our best interest to have them lose it so as to forward the plot. If the circumstances were not controlled to that extent the proceedings never would have occurred.
It's also an interesting topic when thinking about the end, would Dana have shot Marty? She says she wouldn't post-Werewolf attack. And if we consider the events of the movie, is it Marty's free will or hope of survival that leads the Ancients to rise?
What place does nudity and sexuality have in it?
"The nudity? We absolutely discussed it. It's crucial to that part of the genre, and we felt we had to honor the genre. You have these conventions for a reason, and the reason is bigger than just, "What do kids like?" Since the beginning of time, we've been throwing virgins in the volcano, so to speak, so we felt it was necessary to examine it" - Co-writer/director Drew Goddard (Source)
Will someone use this for their dissertation?