(Want a second opinion? Check out Laevatein’s review! )
Oh my God. OH MY GOD.
This movie. THIS MOVIE RIGHT HERE.
Take my advice, go see it. Don’t like scary movies? Go see it. Hated Cloverfield? GO SEE IT. Have final exams? SCREW YOUR FINALS, GO SEE THIS MOVIE.
This whole review is going to be littered in spoilers. Usually, I don’t care about spoiling it for you guys, but this movie is so much better when you don’t know what’s coming. All you need to know if FIVE STARS – GO SEE IT NOW! GO! STOP READING THIS AND GO WATCH IT RIGHT NOW!
The only reason I am writing spoilers is because I know there actually people out there who won’t see this film until they know what it’s really about first, which is fine, and I am usually one of those people. Also, I’d like to talk about the film in-depth about what I liked and, surprisingly, didn’t like.
So, click ahead if you dare, cause this week on Manic Movie Magic, we’re talking about The Cabin in the Woods
Let’s begin with a full plot synopsis for those who have yet to see the film. The story begins with five college kids, who happen to slowly start falling into line with common stereotypes we all know and love: the super stoner, the alpha jock, the slut, the virgin, and the brainiac. However, they make it clear that these aren’t who these people really are – their personalities have been altered to fit into these stereotypes. We also see a lab in an undisclosed location discussing these five kids and preparing for the “cellar” It’s also clear that this isn’t their first pony show so to speak, and that this is a global ordeal.
This is literally all know in the first twenty minutes, and while we do know that these kids have to die and these guys in lab coats are going to be the ones making it happen, but we don’t know why yet, and we won’t know until the last ten minutes of the film. What we do find out is that these people in the underground lab have controlled everything – the weather, the lighting, the temperature, even spiked the “slut’s” hair dye and the stoner’s weed to dull their cognition. Heck they even convince the jock to take these people to his “cousin’s cabin” when it’s implied later there was never a cousin at all.
So, the cellar door pops open “with a sudden gust of wind” as suddenly we see the entire lab taking bets on something, frantically getting them in as the kids search through the cellar.
While of the kids have different objects in their hands, the virgin reads out loud from a diary first, causing them to all put down their stuff and listen to the tale of creepy red-neck pain-worshippers and then say an incantation in Latin. Off screen, we see zombie awaken from the dead, and the beating is complete, with maintenance and an intern winning the whole pot. Yes, they were betting on how the kids would die. Sick…but also kind of awesome.
The men in the lab coats also emphasize a degree of choice in the matter – the kids don’t have to go down there at all, and they don’t have to pick or touch anything, or invoke any curse upon themselves. Just like they don’t have to continue on to the cabin after hearing the crazy old guy from the gas station. What happens to them is of course influenced by the people in the lab but in the end, it’s them who make the choice.
So, zombies first kill the “slut” and the alpha jock makes it back just in time as the stoner begins to realize that something is terribly wrong with everything going on here, even though the others don’t. However, he too is quickly dragged away by a zombie. We see that each time a person is killed, a lever is pulled, blood is released and pour out onto a stone with grooves on it. The rest head for the RV they took to get there and the people plan to set off a rock-slide…which never comes. Panicked, one of the scientists runs to the demolition department and finds the wires all cut. He manages to set off the rockslide just in time. So Thor has the brilliant idea of using an ATV to jump across the canyon…and promptly dies. The virgin begins to realize something is terribly wrong but finally calms down as the brainiac comforts her…only to have him stabbed from behind by a zombie. The RV crashes into the lake, the virgin escapes and gets the crap beat out of her by a zombie.
The coolest thing about this movie is that the monsters aren’t actors – they’re real. Yes, this underground government lab somehow created and maintains real monsters. That adds a whole new level to the complexity of the game – cause you know, they’re real zombies! More on them later.
The people in the lab start celebrating, calling it a close call as all the other countries failed. I would like to take the time to thank Whedon for making Madrid an explosion. Clearly, he understands that after the civil war, Spaniards refuse to deal with any more absurd shit, from war or the supernatural. Bravo, my man, bravo. Also, Japan and the happy possessed frog – I don’t know who came up with that but it’s hilarious!
However, they receive a call and it turns out the stoner is not dead at all, merely wounded. He shows the virgin the wiring he found and a special elevator. They go down only to be confronted by every ghoul, ghost, and goblin imaginable – all the other monsters that would have resulted from picking up different things in the cellar and toying with them. The virgin has a major freak out because she knows they are going to be killed and that all of this was inevitable. Lab spots them and sends them into some sort of security check-point. Security teams attempt to kill the stoner but they escape behind a desk and do a “system purge,” though it isn’t clear what exactly that means until 30 seconds later.
…and this is where the shit really gets crazy.
All the monsters are released from the cells, and are killing guards all over before spreading into the lab for more mayhhem. And everyone is there – a basilisk, giant bats, creepy doll children, no-face ballerinas, zombies, monster clowns, a merman, scarecrow people, a freaking unicorn – and they are on a killing rampage. The stoner and the virgin make it through the madness to the center of the lab, which is a floating stone surrounded by five huge tablets ingrained with figures. Sigourney Weaver, of all people, shows up and explains everything. Every year, each country find five people who fill the previously mentioned stereotypes (though they do change every so often) and have them killed to placate the ancient Gods that once ruled the world – and a failure to do so would cause them to rise up and destroy everything. So they have a choice to make – die and save the world, or die with the world. Of course they choose not to sacrifice themselves because they are selfish bastards and the last shot we see is a giant hand pitch black raising out of the cabin, smashing it to pieces.
My description does this film no justice – it’s visually stunning. The colors, the monsters, the locales, the action, everything moves with grace and style and it’s incredibly hard to feel anything but awe. The story is fluid and actually realistic in a weird, backwards way, and the dialogue is spot on both from a writing and acting perspective.
More than anything else, the film is a fitting homage to slasher films, monster movies, B-films, blockbuster horror, zombie films, camp classics – this film fits in no particularly genre but rather covers them all seamlessly and you can tell this was a film made for people who love horror by people who love horror.
Being the opinionated person I am, I have to be honest and say I wasn’t in love with everything in the film. Once we get to the zombies rising, all the suspense is gone because we know what’s coming, just not why. It would have been nice to see it drawn out more. And I wish we did get some more mythos about how the Gods of Earth worked – if they kill everything, how did humans manage to exist, let alone make a deal with them? I know it wasn’t the point, but the set up was just so cool, I wish we got more out of it. You think I’d dislike the ending, but I think it’s a pretty fitting end especially considering the multi-genre smack down going on.
In the end, this is a film that needs to be seen to be believed, it’s probably my unofficial favorite movie of 2012. When it comes out on DVD, I am going to buy it and watch it over and over again just to see all the creative details put into it. It’s not a film for everyone, but it’s got a very wide appeal. Go see this movie as soon as humanly possible.
Next week, I’ll be posting a new review, just not sure of what yet…suggestions are always appreciated! And my Firefly review is coming out this week too so be on the look out for that!