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Movie Review – The Cabin in the Woods

Staring some faces I’m sure you’ll recognize from various television shows and one guy that has an even larger career then when The Cabin in the Woods was filmed … Co-writers Joss Whedon (TV’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Firefly, Dollhouse) and Drew Goddard (Cloverfield,) try to deliver a movie that reinvents the horror movie experience. The movie was originally set to be released in 2009, however, due to MGM going into bankruptcy that Fall, The Cabin in the Woods was forced to sit on the shelf until now.

Was it worth the wait and did they succeed?

There is nothing “game changing” about The Cabin in the Woods as the advertising would have you believe. This is such a train wreck from start to finish that you keep watching and hoping that it gets better and will live up to the hype. Sadly this never happens as the final product is stale and boring. The acting is nothing better then what you’d see on the SyFy Channel. Drew Goddard’s directing and pacing just doesn’t work so this makes it hard to follow the story and the setup of the events that will transpire for the main characters. The dialogue is muffled at times so that you rarely catch the name of a character when and if it is ever mentioned. Then there is the laughable plot about Ancient Gods that will destroy the Earth unless a sacrifice of five is made in their honor every year. This is such a “been there and done that” paint-by-the-numbers story that Whedon should be ashamed of even putting his name on the credits.

The world Governments have created Controlled Chaos Zones (my definition of where things take place as we are never given an official name of where things take place) where they trap a few selected people and put them through a test of choice and survival. How the Government picks whom they pick and get those select few to what will be their final destination is never explained. The ultimate goal is for the selected to be punished and killed as they are sacrifices to the Gods and their death will keep the world safe for another year. The US’s zone is being monitored and orchestrated by two scientists who are played by Richard Jenkins (various movies you’ve seen him in) and Bradley Whitford (TV’s The West WingBilly Madison). These two are the “puppet masters” that help guide their guests to select the item that will be used to unleash any number of the monsters that make up your worst fear and nightmares. These monsters are held in containment zones and when released, they will hunt and kill the sacrifices. All of the manipulation happens in a control studio making The Cabin in the Woods feel like The Truman Show was merged with a bad horror movie from the 70’s. These two are putting on a TV show for all to witness – or at least the rest of the work force that are employed at the Controlled Chaos Zone.

Whedon and Goddard use the typical selection of characters fodder one would expect to find in a horror movie.

  • The Slut – Jules played by Anna Hutchison (TV’s Power Rangers: Jungle Fury)
  • The Jock – Curt played by Chris Hemsworth (Thor, The Avengers)
  • The Scholar – Holden played by Jesse Williams (TV’s Grey’s Anatomy)
  • The Fool – Marty played by Fran Kranz (TV’s Dollhouse)
  • The Virgin – Dana played by Kristen Connolly (TV’s Guiding Light and As the World Turns)

It really is a shame that they didn’t “change the game” and go with a more Predator style of movie because the monsters that ultimately are used are nothing more then Redneck Zombies. In one scene, Holden and Dana find a cellar that was allegedly used for sacrifices over a hundred years ago. Instead of taking the knives to use and fight off the creatures they just run when Curt comes to their rescue. Really? Run away is the best thing they can do? If it were me in that situation I’m grabbing a few of the knives and if I come face to face with a monster it’s Wolverine time! To quote Jay from Mallrats, “I attack the structure Wolvie Berzerk style, and knock out the fuckin’ pin and bickety bam, the motherfucker is rubble. Hence, no game show.” I would have liked to have seen more of a back and forth between the sacrifices and the monsters and not the self-righteous, over used cliche, that we are presented with. There is no gore factor or even a fear factor with this movie. I wasn’t expecting Saw but would have liked to have seen Final Destination when it came to the shock value.

The Cabin in the Woods is plagued by having been shelved for over two years and because of this, plots that may have been “original” are now old hat. The idea of facing death by their greatest fear was done better last year in an episode of Doctor Who entitled ‘The God Complex’. Being sacrificed to save the world from an ancient evil was also done more recently in Torchwood: Miracle Day. For someone like Whedon that takes pride in his writing style and likes to have witty dialogue there are many times when the comedy of the situation just felt forced.  The entire last act of the movie is a hodgepodge mess with an ending that is so nonsensical that I was ready to leave before the movie was actually over. The Cabin in the Woods would have been better suited for the SyFy channel. This way you can switch to anything else that is on when you realize just how painfully stupid the whole movie actually is.

Rated R for language, nudity, sexuality, and drug use, with a run time of 95 minutes – The Cabin in the Woods will leave you feeling like you have a bad case of heartburn and no matter what you do, you can’t get rid of the horrible aftertaste.

My rating = 1 out of 5 stars

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