Thursday, May 3, 2012

The Cabin in the Woods - Genre Subversion at its Finest

I finally managed to catch "The Cabin in the Woods," and have to say: lot of fun, does a very thorough job of trying to turn the horror flick genre on its head in a fashion I found more entertaining than prior film efforts to do the same (like, say, Scream).

I'd like to talk about it, but there's a chance some of you haven't seen it yet. Let's just say that this is another "stealth Mythos" movie in disguise and leave it at that. If you like your horror films, this one is worth watching.

One caveat: this movie plays by its own rules and the rules of the horror genre very efficiently. If you like to apply too much scrutinizing logic to films*, this might give you a slight headache. So if you're one of those people, this might, possibly, not be your cup of tea. But if you love the idea of literature and film as an entity unto itself, with its own special brand of physics and logic that it adheres to, then this movie will work well for you. Also, if you like to see subversive metafilm elements. Also, if you just want to see a plethora of unexpected cameos.

It's not the best movie I've seen, but it was fun. I think this movie would have hit me as a teen or twenty-something a lot harder, but as it is, at 41 I've seen one too many films not to notice the film's subtle and not-so-subtle hints, allusions, vaguely disguised cameos and other elements as they wound their way along the screen, so it was entertaining but maybe not as shockingly amazing to me as it might once have been.

Is this Kevin?

*For example, if you're one of those people who pretends that the second and third Matrix films never happened. As cool as the first Matrix was, all the problems inherent in those films started with #1 and simply were perpetuated from there. They happened, they were fun Summer fare. The Matrix was not very good philosophy, had some flimsy, bad science, and it was an amusing take on the very geriatric concept of the Cartesian Demon, so get over it!


  1. I don't think you "got" the film at all. Being that we are the same age, that shocks me. The film was a statement about the horror industry and how it needs to evolve. The Gods were the fans/viewers. The crew behind the scenes were the directors. It's fairly obvious!

    1. An interesting take! I admit, I didn't read that into it (I would have been much likelier to have searched for the deep metaphor in my younger days, to be honest), but I do like the interpretation that the film was really a metaphor for the genre's stagnation.

    2. I have rewatched this film and given it more thought. I don't see the analogy between the "gods" and the viewers, although the crew behind the scenes makes a certain amount of sense. If this film is meant to be an allegory for the horror film industry I think it fails, as the connections are too weak to make any real sense and in fact trying to impose such context weakens the film a lot, in my opinion.

    3. Okay, to elaborate: if the viewers/fans are the gods, then how does this metaphor apply? The old gods in the film are cosmic entities, powerful beings which will destroy the world if their endless hunger is not sated. This works if you equate this hunger in the gods with the appetite horror fans have for these movies....I guess....but the point of the film is that there must be sacrifice, and only through sacrifice can the gods be kept at bay. The implication of fans = gods is that the fans have a similar, endless appetite for horror movies (and by definition the sacrifice of such) and that if we don't get the appropriate sacrifice we will....what? Stop going to the movies? Meanwhile, the directors, who are layer of control within the film above the victims and even to a limited extent above the monsters, but just as insignificant to the gods. If they are directly analogous to the real film directors of the horror industry, then the suggestion is that they are metaphorically forced into churning our horror films (to appease the fans?) creating the stagnation.

      Naw, I don't buy it. This film works better as a deeper metacritique of the genre's implied rules in film, but falls apart as a metaphor for the film industry in RL.