The Cabin in the Woods

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Cabin in the Woods was really quite fun to watch…and this is coming from someone who isn’t a horror movie fan. I was talking to a friend who wasn’t part of the class that this was the next movie we were going to see, and he was all praises for it. He said that it was the deconstruction of a horror film. Indeed it was, taking apart what horror films are and putting it all back together in this ridiculously fun movie. Yeah, I really had fun watching this. Not being a true blue horror fan though, I think I missed out on a lot more.

The first scene was a bit weird for me, since I was expecting a forest-y or at the very least country scenes. Truth be told, I was a bit slow in catching on what those lab scenes were all about. But I appreciated these scenes since they were a break from the obviously scary parts of the movie that follow the five friends. The parts with the friends were so typical of horror movies and thus so predictable, but I still got spooked at times. I found it quite interesting that they were actually the explanation for all the weird things happening to the group. It was different from Triangle, which had no explanation whatsoever for the strange events. I thought at first that they were just filming some sort of twisted version of Big Brother, since they were showing numerous versions all around the world (and Japan’s had little girls! How do they fulfill the archetypes?!?). I thought that that was it, it was just about humans being the real monsters. But lo, there’s another twist! These guys who cheer whenever someone dies a gruesome death in the hands of the undead are actually trying to save the world!

Horror movie endings are, as discussed in class, both happy and sad. These movies disturb the equilibrium, and at the end, this equilibrium may or may not be restored, but this equilibrium will never be quite the same as the old one. The monsters may be gone, but you will always have to deal with the fact that there are monsters. In Cabin in the Woods, however, there isn’t really that sense…it just ends. It isn’t a happy ending, since the world ends. So, I guess it’s a sad ending, but in a way, it’s alright because there’s nothing to terrorize, no one to scare, no one to be scared. The ending of the movie doesn’t make it seem like it’s something that’s already happened (because hey, the world’s still around), which I personally think is how most horror movies get to me. The equilibrium is still undisturbed, for the most part.

But what if that program (or whatever you should call it) is ongoing right now, and the deadline is December 21? Maybe the previous ones had been sucessful after all, and that’s why the world hasn’t ended yet. The next deadline is coming up, and hopefully, the Fool isn’t immune to the mind-control stuff. Well, I just hope then that I don’t get selected for that…and I will avoid outings where we’re only five like the plague.

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The Cabin in the Woods: Familiarity and Unfamiliarity

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“The Cabin in the Woods”, as the title suggests, is a horror film about five friends who travel to an isolated cabin having no idea of the terrifying events that await them. At first, when I watched the trailer of the movie, I thought that it was just another typical slasher film like most films where the characters die one at a time in their own way until the main protagonist is left on his/her own. However, as I watched the latter part of the movie, I realized I was completely mistaken since there were still a number of twists and turns throughout the plot. I absolutely loved it because both the horror and comedy genres blended really well with the storyline. I am not even surprised that the film performed really well in the box office thus, receiving generally favourable reviews and making it one of the highest grossing films of the year.

In the first part of the film, I was actually quite confused upon seeing scientists in some kind of laboratory and as a bird bumped into what seems like a force field. Also, it was when an intimidating old man appeared in a gas station that things started to become a little creepy. As I continued watching the film, there were feelings of familiarity and unfamiliarity within me. It had a sense of familiarity for the reason that killing the characters sequentially in a particular way as a result of summoning the zombies was very cliché and predictable. Moreover, the five friends were also stereotyped in such a way that they were identified specifically as the whore, athlete, scholar, fool and virgin, who all suffered based on the horror they have chosen in the basement. In contrast, upon being introduced to the underground facility where the said scientists were actually the ones responsible for the deaths of Dana’s friends, the feeling of unfamiliarity comes in. In effect, this unfamiliarity leads to the emotion of horror which the film wishes to impart among its audience.

David G. Hartwell’s major streams of horror namely horror being a moral allegory and fantastic were also evident in the film. The army of nightmares released by Dana and Marty and the Ancient Ones under the facility best manifested horror being fantastic. Although there was somewhat a lack of originality with the plot, I really appreciated the creativity of the special effects used especially with regards to the monsters. Moral allegory, on the other hand, was best described by the scene where Dana pointed a gun at Marty, believing the Director that the world would be saved if he was killed. Moreover, fatalism also played a significant role in the movie since the characters died chronologically in a specific way. Now, knowing that the scientists in the facility were the ones who should be blamed for their deaths, I began to question who the actual monsters in the film were. In addition to this, the people who betted and chose what monster will be summoned and how each character will die can be considered monsters in themselves. I think what makes the film a genuine horror film was the fact that the acts committed by these people were truly horrific and inhuman. In the end, I believe the film hoped to leave us with an important message that the true monsters originated  in humanity itself.

T H E C A B I N I N TH E W O O D S

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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.

Fate is a Practical Joker

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I sat in the class half-confused in the very beginning of the movie when the laboratory scenes were shown. I thought The Cabin in the Woods was going to be your everyday slasher movie with the typical character archetypes that show up in many other films; the jock, the whore, the virgin, the geek and the clown (And the “hot” ones always die first. Really, they do.). In truth, I spent more than half the time thinking about what the connection was between the lab, the cabin and the characters. It was quite unexpected and a little disorienting, because I was caught off-guard.

Ultimately, the movie had a lot to do with the subject of fate in more than one aspect. There is fate pertaining to the characters and fate pertaining to us, the horror movie audience. First of all, the theme is very similar to the Triangle, the last movie that was shown in class; the power of choice and how it leads to one’s fate. But in this film, fate was a practical joker because the situation that they were in made them feel like they could do something about their situation, which is not the case. 

Unlike Triangle, it was much less psychologically disturbing and came out more of a satire for horror films in general or homage for the genre. That in itself is a very ambitious thing for a film maker to do because then they would have to take in to context every little detail that made the horror industry as distinct as it is now. I feel like they did touch on this though they did not go deep in to the details. I think they made the film a horror/comedy one because if it was too serious, the movie would come out as cliché. Then again, that could be their goal; to present the film in a way that the viewer can immediately see the essence of the film which is the broadness of the horror film genre. For me, it reflected fate in our own case because we also choose the kind of horror that we watch and like how the characters were portrayed, we are also sacrifices to the ‘gods’ of the industry. In relation to the movie however, the characters were to be sacrificed to ancient gods who are caged under the earth (gods that remind me a little of the mythological titans.). The film allowed me to relate to the characters and hate on the bad-guys, who were portrayed by the people in the lab. In the end, I also saw how I could be parallel to them because of how they were watching the events roll out on their computer screens where human life was shown as disposable. Then fate, being as unpredictable as it is, showed that the lab-people were not so bad after all; that in truth they were actually the ones keeping the world at balance.

The film The Cabin in The Woods was an okay movie. I understand that they tried to portray a wider, clearer picture on the horror genre and pour it all in one film. The movie felt fresh, as it gave a new light on horror and gore, but the clichés just didn’t work so well for me. There was a little too much going on.

A Cabin of Horrors

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You would think from the title itself that The Cabin in the Woods would be just your typical horror/slasher movie, but then it unfolds before you and it turns out to be a mixture of horror, Hunger Games, even in some ways the Avengers. I love how it has this sort of tongue-in-cheek humor with itself, much like how the Scream series takes on cliche slasher movies, The Cabin in the Woods has that similar vibe, filled with cliches that would make you snicker and be amused more than scare the pants out of you.

Cliches are everywhere, from the setting ( a cabin, in the woods), to the characters, (you have the usual, jock, nerd, stoner, virgin, and the horny girl). Even if that is the case it doesn’t make it any less enjoyable. When they were down in the basement tinkering with the ornaments and I learned that each ornament releases a different kind of monster, I found myself hoping that they would open some more, that more monsters would come out to terrify these teens who came to party in the deep, dark, woods. The moment wherein the two remaining survivors were in the elevator with all the monsters being shown, it filled me with awe. Once they all came out and all hell broke lose, the satisfaction was immense. Just seeing a killer clown, a unicorn, a werewolf, and a giant snake taking out people, was quite a visual pleasure.

Though it’s not as psychologically draining as Triangle, there are some similarities. We see how the main characters really don’t have a choice once they’re in the basement. Much like in Triangle, there’s a feeling wherein you feel like there’s no way out for these guys (highlighted by Chris Hemsworth’s ridiculous motorcycle death in the movie). A fear of the unknown, but in The Cabin in the Woods, the main characters though surrounded by the unknown, still went ahead to discover the answers for themselves.

Though in the end, I really didn’t feel for the giant hand pooping out from under the earth, it felt a little corny and for me, it would’ve been better to just let it fade to black and leave it to the imagination of the viewer. But then again, in a film where mermans, zombies, and ballerina monsters roam free, a giant hand of a God popping out from underground isn’t that farfetched. I feel that it’s not a movie to be taken too seriously, it’s more of a movie that pays homage to the genre, showing just how crazy and horrific it could be.It’s a great concept, and it also brings up a few thoughts in your head like what if you really don’t control your decisions, what if all the environmental factors are fixed in order for a certain decision to come about, it’s crazy and it resulted in a pretty fun movie. Come to think of it, of course from where we’re watching, it wouldn’t seem horrific, because of all the defenses that we’ve put up already, but imagining yourself in those scenarios with all those ghosts, and monsters running about, it is pretty horrifying.