February 8, 2013 by CINEfaction Movie Review.
It is a difficult line to tread, to be both intellectually engage your audience whilst ultimately giving them what they want. Meta-horror has experienced a checkered and relatively unsuccessful life since Wes Craven re-opened the box with New Nightmare. Subsequently, we have been treated to such delights as Scream, Behind The Mask, Trick R Treat but for every (relatively) successful movie we have had to sit through dirge like ‘The Cabin In The Woods’. Its a movie that seems to revel in thought of its clued in audience pointing and laughing, picking up its silly and needless references to better movies. It forgoes any weight and intensity to firmly pat its own back. Its a movie that seems to forget about the genre its poking fun at; the best meta-horror (or self aware horror movies) are the ones that can equally scare and pick conventions apart. Behind The Mask is a good example of a movie that shatters the veneer of the slasher movie whilst actually being a great slasher movie.
OK, the central premise is quite enjoyable and well conceived but the screenplay it has sprung is lifeless and uninspired. The writing is subversive and hokey to a fault for example, the scene in which the twisted hill-billy is on speaker-phone serves only to break the film entirely and is insultingly mis-placed. I liked the idea of the ‘directors’ changing the characters to fit the mold of a horror movie but it was done too obviously. Maybe this idea (or its execution) would have worked much better as a short film or even as a mini series. Indeed, it seems that the humour and some of the ideas are lifted straight from Whedons other creations such as Buffy and Angel. Within that format there is much more scope to be inflammatory or tonally subversive as you can just pick up the normal story arc next week (the musical episode in Buffy is perhaps the best representation of this). I think in cinema this idea has to be subtle or intelligent or else you alienate your audience. By the pictures post modern ending, i didn’t care one sh*t for any of the characters or what was going to happen to the world if they didn’t follow the scripts post modern posturing, i was just praying for the curtains to roll.
It is clear then that ‘The Cabin In The Woods’ left me cold. It wasn’t overtly funny enough nor was it innovative in its scares to warrant its tidy billing and after all is said and done, it was just another good idea chopped up and left for dead.