Sometimes you want to have a quiet weekend with friends, sitting around smoking weed and talking nonsense, but just around the corner pops up the impending apocalypse of the human race to ruin everything, as happens for the characters in this 2011 movie, The Cabin in the Woods.
Therefore let’s begin the journey by setting out with the young caravan of students consisting of Dana, Curt, Jules, Marty, and Holden, who leave for a trip to an old isolated house in the heart of a pristine forest.
Despite its sinister overall aura, this cabin seems seemingly peaceful, wishing the false promise of a relaxing and amusing couple of days for the group.
However, while these friends occupy the various rooms, they find a mysterious hidden passageway to a basement overflowing with ancient objects.
Each of them starts handling a different relic, having no idea that through some hidden cameras, scientists are watching their every move, waiting to know their choice.
Indeed, none of them can imagine they have become unwilling participants in a sacrificial ritual to appease a mysterious entity living under the house.
Each of the boys must die in a specific order, embodying a quite clear youthful ideal relied on in each step of the ritual, whose non-fulfillment will lead to the human race’s total destruction.
They are not the only group taking part in the sacrifice because elsewhere in the world are other scientists overseeing similar rituals that, unfortunately, seem to be failing one after another.
At the same time, after numerous casualties, some of these guys figure out the truth and find a way down into the depths of the secret laboratories under the house.
At that point, it begins a no-return countdown to the apocalypse that only their violent deaths can prevent.
Playing bloodily with the horror rules
I had recently talked about Drew Goddard for Bad Times At The El Royale, so I should say at the outset that I don’t give a damn about any potential flaws because The Cabin in the Woods is a 2011 movie straight out of pure delight and cinematic pleasure.
Look at its components; it’s an orgy of horror clichés being monstrously chewed up and spit back out in a bloodbath where we love to gleefully wallow.
Indeed, it’s a story bringing us back to the elemental magic of cinema, written by Joss Whedon, who is the little genius behind such TV phenomena as Buffy the Vampire Slayer or a stunning online series like Firefly, not to mention the latter’s shocking cinematic ending with Serenity.
Whedon takes a simple concept we horror fans all know by heart: a group of friends isolated in the middle of nowhere who are mercilessly slaughtered one after another. So initially, we ask, okay, when does the first one start dying?
However, the story unsettles us as we discover the scientists behind this macabre game, raising the stakes further in the last act with revenge by the surviving boys who unleash the monstrous creatures imprisoned in the basements against their creators.
Goddard handles the movie with exceptional pacing, carrying on a progression that glides naturally from sci-fi to fantasy genre and then into unrestrained terror and splatter, all the time under a cruel and over-the-top irony.
Scenography and special effects are simply perfect, again moving from the poor tricks of classic B-Movies to modern digital technology without any of these different styles ever going against each other.
I want a movie like this at least every week, twisting the rules of a genre while carefully adhering to them, originally copying from endless similar horror movies.
Fighting against the end of the world
No less efficient is the merry brigade fighting the forces of evil, almost without understanding what the hell they are doing half of the time.
Among the boys, the character standing out the most is Kristen Connolly, a classic nice girl who, throughout the story, gets space and the chance to bring out her dark side.
The trick to understanding the role of each of these kids is to look at the sacrificial sculptures in the finale; each matched to a character and which the scientists try to manipulate to meet the strict code of ritual.
In this sense, the tough and sexy Chris Hemsworth might seem like the designated hero to solve all the troubles, just as his blond girlfriend Anna Hutchison becomes instead the classic combination of sexuality and horror, like the classic scene with the two lovers flirting before the monster arrives, inevitable in any movie of this kind.
On the other hand, Fran Kranz‘s character turns out to be a surprise, also seeming a stereotype of the cheerful stoner who should die at any moment, yet finally proving to be more heroic and brave than others.
Closing out the group of boys is the poorly defined character of Jesse Williams, who does not offer much beyond seeming only a potential romantic moment for Connolly’s character and never finds a satisfying place in the story.
Finally, the voice of the mysterious Director is omnipresent, whom we see only in the finale with a cameo by the usual outstanding Sigourney Weaver, able to charge a character with charisma even in just a few minutes on screen.