I’ve made no secret that I generally disdain the horror genre as a whole. It takes something really special to make me so much as take notice of a horror film, which is usually something that most horror films aren’t willing to put forth the effort to try and achieve, opting instead for following trends, shock value, and generally vapid entertainment. Now, I’d heard of The Cabin in the Woods when it started making the rounds in 2012, and I’d heard how it was more than ‘just a horror film’; how it toys with the conventions of the genre in supposedly new and exciting ways. For me, I wasn’t fully convinced, even with the “Oh, it doesn’t just follow horror movie conventions, it turns them on its ear!”, and so I didn’t make a real effort to go see this. It was when my brother got me the DVD for Christmas that year and recommended it wholeheartedly that I decided to disregard my prior notions and at least give it a try. Damn, am I ever glad I did. Something special had come a knockin’.
Five young college friends decide to take a road trip to a relative’s newly purchased cabin (IN THE WOODS), for a general weekend of fun and debauchery. Sound familiar? Exactly. That’s the game that Cabin in the Woods plays with you; while we follow the five friends as they unleash an undead horror and start to be killed off one by one, we are also a privy to two technicians, Hadley and Sitterson, as they are watching the whole process happen, silently orchestrating and manipulating the events that transpire to achieve the end goal of, quote, “upstairs”. Without completely spoiling the film, you can pretty much be certain that every single trope and convention of horror films you could name is upended and lampshaded by this film, played with intentionally and yet worked into the film’s overarching narrative completely straightforwardly. That’s what makes this a must see film; not the technicals or the importance of it, or even the story itself – it is without question the most original and fresh take on what it means to be a horror film since The Evil Dead, and very likely in the history of the genre. Not to say that the technicals aren’t satisfactory; quite the opposite. You barely notice them while you’re watching the film, but it is largely thanks to the cinematography and production value that the film is so effective at what it does. Well, that, and the script, of course, but come on; this is Joss Whedon, so that’s somewhat to be expected.
This was the one film that, more than any of the ones we knew were a sure thing to make the list, us 1001 bloggers were really hoping and rooting would make a surprise appearance, and lo and behold, the editors came through for us. And, just to make sure that anyone who tossed this aside at first glance like I initially did is absolutely crystal clear that they should give this a sporting chance, they (the editors) did not do so unreasonably. Aside from the new additions that are spectacular and excellent films in their own right, this would probably be the one new one I would recommend over any of the others, just because of what a surprise it was; a unique buoy in an ocean of floundering wannamakeits.
Arbitrary Rating: 9/10