We all hope that when we, and all of our closest friends, go on a fun vacation that we aren’t going to end up as anyone between the ages of sixteen and twenty five find themselves in the movies. As in our entire blood volume outside of our body.
The Cabin in the Woods, much like our previous review, is a deconstruction. This one, however, is a deconstruction of the horror genre and is not, I repeat, is not a standard horror film. By now the trailers may have spoiled the plot, the reviews may have thrown out surprising cameos that are missed if you don’t listen to people speak, and so on and so forth. We’re not gonna do that. Because some of you out there just haven’t experienced the beauty that is The Cabin in the Woods. We’re just going to point out the important things.
It starts out simple, five college students are going to their friend’s cousin’s cabin in the woods. Our teens are Dana Polk (Kristen Connolly who would go on to be known for her role as Christina Gallagher in House of Cards), Curt Vaughan (Chris Hemsworth who, at the time of release was most known for playing Thor in Marvel’s Cinematic Universe), Jules Louden (Anna Hutchison who none of you will know as Lily Chilman, the Yellow Cheetah Ranger in Power Rangers Jungle Fury), Marty Mikalski (Fran Kranz, who Joss Whedon diehards will know as Topher Brink from Dollhouse), and Holden McCrea (Jesse Williams who plays Dr. Jackson Avery in Grey’s Anatomy). You may have noticed something about them. Yes, all five of them have last names, which is unusual for characters in a horror film, hell it’s sometimes unusual for characters in film in general.
This is only the first aspect of the deconstruction. Within the first ten minutes of meeting these people you get to know details about them, something my friend Anna and I always use to determine who is going to survive the end of the movie. If you focus on a slasher flick, or a monster mash, or some sort of horror film you may have noticed a lack of information on any character who isn’t the final girl. In this film you quickly learn that Dana had an affair with her teacher, is incredibly intelligent, and a beautiful artist. Curt is intelligent, insightful, and good humored and is so in love with his girlfriend that it takes him the entire scene to realize he’s been talking to her best friend while she was in her underwear. Jules is kind and caring, and just wants her friend to have a good time while being careful in how she does it. Holden is athletic and awkward but a really nice guy at heart who is clearly quite aware that he’s being set up with Dana but isn’t pushy about it.
Tell me the last time you knew this much about characters in a typical horror film?
This film plays a particular form of irony quite well. We call it dramatic irony. We (the audience) knows almost everything about the film before the characters do, and most of them don’t even live long enough to find out. Dramatic irony isn’t cruel, but it can be tragic and in this film it often is. Our characters are blissfully unaware of what they are walking into, and that makes it all the more painful to watch.
Not painful as impossible, but you probably knew what I meant. Check out this film and see where it leads you.