With each film we see, I’m starting to increasingly appreciate Horror Films. I guess that was the point of the class and what, you, Sir, hoped to inspire from us but allow me to explain why. So far, Triangle and Cabin in the Woods, took me away from what I didn’t like about horror films – its focus on aesthetic horror to the detriment of intellectual dread. Only the images seemed to frighten as the plot and characters were shallow and often forgettable. Since the only horror films I had watched prior to this class were The Grudge, Amityville Horror, House of Wax and Paranormal Activity; it might be no surprise to anyone that I would have these preconceived notions of what a Horror Film might be like.
In some aspects, The Cabin in the Woods fell under a lot of categories I would associate with the Horror Film, Slasher films most especially. There was an aspect of stalking employed here, led to many instances of entrapment that required escape yet ultimately ending in death. Though this is a standard formula of a slasher film, as discussed in class, I believe that The Cabin in the Woods goes beyond this slasher film template. In the first few minutes of the movie, I was expecting a House of Wax type film. You had all you slasher film stereotypes all heading to a sure-to-be haunted cabin situated in some remote area of the woods. It had “predictable” written all over it.
I was pleasantly surprised when I started to realize that they were introducing a mysterious element of the film – the control booth. This aspect of the movie – the mystery surrounding its purpose or relevance in the film and then eventually learning it’s scheme – allowed the movie to transcend the usual formula of Slasher films that we had discussed in class. That element of the movie took it out of the box and into the unexpected. This is exactly where I believe the brilliance of this film came from.
In many ways, as well, The Cabin in the Woods reminded me a lot of Triangle because the main characters in this movie seemed to have a false notion of control in each of their situations which is terrifying even in real life. If we were to really think about it, any aspect of our lives where we feel we have control but then eventually realize we are completely powerless, horrifies us in many different ways. It seems that both Triangle and The Cabin in the Woods employed this very common fear in humanity, exaggerated it, put it in a screen play, added some interestingly haunting characters and used it to scare the s*** out of us. Because, as I have noticed with both these films is not just entrapment by a singular horrifying creature but a situation, seemingly inescapable and unexplainable. The horror that came from these two movies came not from the characters per se but from the circumstances these characters were situated in. They believed that they had power in their situations, that their actions and decisions, were leading them to their escape when in reality, their situation (and their escape from this situation) was out of their control.
I’m incredibly looking forward to the other films we have in store for class. I’m enjoying breaking down the preconceived notions I have on Horror films and forming a more positive opinion on them.