“I’m Drawing a Line in the Fucking Sand Here. Do NOT Read The Latin.”

Well, I finally, finally went to see it.

Cabin in the Woods was filmed in 2009. I’ve wanted to see Cabin in the Woods since I first heard about it . . . and yes, that was back in 2009. Can you blame me? A horror movie written by Joss Whedon, directed by Drew Goddard, and starring Chris Hemsworth, Fran Kranz, Richard Jenkins, Bradley Whitford, and Amy Acker? Of course I wanted to see this movie.

Why did it take me so long? Well, life. That, and Joss Whedon’s other big movie, The Avengers, required at least two viewings. I couldn’t help myself. But hey, patience does have its advantages: three dollar tickets, baby.

Also, in case you were wondering? The movie itself is kind of incredible.

SUMMARY:

Um. Five friends go out to party at some cabin in the middle of the woods. Predictably, bad stuff happens, but nothing is actually what it seems. Er. Dun dun dun?

NOTES:

1. The spoiler-free section of this review will not be long. Let’s just get that out of the way right now. The best way to experience The Cabin in the Woods is to know virtually nothing about it at all, and as such, I can say almost nothing about the movie. Honestly, I wouldn’t even watch the trailer because even that spoils some stuff for the film—although certainly not everything. Still. If you are interested in seeing this movie, or even if you aren’t interested but know that someday you may owe a favor to a friend who requires you to watch this film against your will for their own nefarious purposes . . . please don’t look at the spoilers. Please please please don’t do this.  I honestly think you will be sorry that you did.

2. Now, what the hell can I actually talk about?

Um. Well. Okay. This movie is all about playing with horror tropes, which of course is just one of my favorite things of all time. (It doesn’t even have to be horror. I just really like playing with genre conventions—although, admittedly, conventions that go hand in hand with carnage are always the most fun. I would kill to watch a romantic-comedy, though, that is as ridiculously self-aware and smart as this movie is. I’m not even sure how that would happen, exactly, but I would damn well pay to see it.)

As such, it’s always interesting to see which tropes will be turned on their head and which will be played (relatively) straight. For instance, here only a few of the bazillion tropes that are used in this movie.

Smart People Know Latin
Dumb Blonde
Danger Takes a Backseat
Apocalyptic Log
Creepy Gas Station Attendant

This is a different kind of meta-horror-comedy, though, because The Cabin in the Woods really goes beyond just occasionally making fun of these cliches—you know, it’s not just Randy from Scream popping up to tell the other characters what the rules of scary movies are. (Not that I’m dissing Randy. I would never, ever dis Randy.) The whole narrative itself is a commentary. And a metaphor. And . . . shit, I’m already hitting the “I can’t explain myself so please just go watch the godamned movie already” wall.

3. I have no problems with the acting in this movie—the five friends all do decent-to-good jobs with their roles—but it’s really Richard Jenkins and Bradley Whitford who totally make this film for me.

Of course, I can say next to nothing about what they do in the film, but suffice to say, they are awesome, and I could easily watch nothing but these two playing off of each other for hours. They are hysterical. There was one scene that had me laughing so hard, I wasn’t breathing properly, and it’s the kind of scene that you know would be amusing with just okay actors, but with these guys . . . stitches. Dying. Ow.

4. In fact, I think my only serious problem with the movie is a character named Truman (Brian White).

Although if he’d been dressed—or not dressed—like this, I suspect I would have gotten over it.

I’ll talk more about Truman in the Spoiler Section, but he really only seemed necessary to the plot for the not-so-noble purpose of exposition, and I might have been okay with that except he really doesn’t seem to have much in the way of personality, either. I’m not certain about Brian White’s range (the only thing I’ve ever seen him in is Brick, and his main function in that movie is mostly to say, “Oh yeah?” a lot) but he quickly fades into the background here while standing next to heavyweights like Richard Jenkins and Bradley Whitford. I wish they had either done something interesting with his character or just written him out of the film entirely.

5. Violence is reasonably plentiful, given that this is a horror film. I wouldn’t say that I found this movie to be scary, exactly—though I can be hard to please when it comes to movies that really unnerve me—-but there are a few really good tense scenes and jump moments that serve to make this film more frightening than, say, Scream 4—which provided some of the fun commentary and humor but completely forgot the scares.

6. Some of the best, spoiler-free quotes I could find. Most of them are by this guy:

Because Fran Kranz is awesome.

“It was the pioneer days. People had to make their own interrogation rooms.” – Marty

“He’s got a husband bulge.” – Marty

“More than anything else, I want this moment to be over.” -Hadley

“I hope this is the right road. It doesn’t even show up on the GPS. It is unworthy of global positioning. ” – Jules

“This isn’t right. We should split up. We can cover more ground that way.” – Curt
“Yeah. Yeah, good idea.” – Holden
Really?” – Marty

“Thanks for being decent.” – Dana
“Least I could do, since Curt and Jules have sold you to me for marriage.” -Holden

“I dare you to all go upstairs?” – Marty

And . . . well . . . that’s about it. Sorry, folks. This is a very clever movie with some original ideas, a great script, and one of the most unusual endings I’ve ever seen, but if you want any more detail than that from me, you’ll have to venture below.

SPOILERS

SPOILERS

SPOILERS

SPOILERS

SPOILERS

I will make one last entreaty to those of you who ignored all of my warnings: stop reading NOW if you haven’t seen this movie. For me. Please.

All right then. So, Sitterson (Richard Jenkins) and Hadley (Bradley Whitford) work for some nameless government agency that—to put it simply—traps a group of young, innocent civilians in some horror movie scenario and kills them off one at a time.

Evil comes with ties, ID badges, and coffee cups.

We don’t know why they do this yet, but we do know that it’s a part of some global-wide conspiracy—Japan, appropriately, is America’s biggest competitor in being awesome at horrifically killing people. (Although they aren’t exactly competing. Japan just happens to have a 100% rating in this regard. America is relegated to silver medal status, sadly.) Lin (Amy Acker), a chemist for the agency, voices some concerns, saying that Stockholm’s mission has failed and hinting that there will be horrible, horrible consequences if they also do not succeed, but Sitterson and Hadley laugh her off because they haven’t had an incident in over a decade. Which is how we know things will not end well for either Sitterson or Hadley. (Or pretty much anyone—but hey, we’ll get there.)

So, then we meet this year’s participants in the horror show: Holden (Jesse Williams), Curt (Chris Hemsworth), Marty (Fran Kranz), Dana (Kristen Connolly), and Jules (Anna Hutchinson).

These archetypes are important, but in the beginning of the movie, they don’t seem to entirely fit. Well, Marty as The Fool does. He’s quite the little stoner. But Jules, our stereotypical dumb blonde, is also pre-med . .  and not the one dancing around in her underwear. Dana is a nice enough girl, but she’s not actually a virgin. (She just got dumped by her professor, actually.) And Curt might look like a dumb jock—a damn sexy dumb jock—but he’s actually a sociology major who can say big words and everything. For instance, he gives this advice to Dana about an upcoming class: “Read the Gurovsky. It’s way more interesting, and Bennett doesn’t know it by heart, so he’ll think your insightful. And you have no pants.”

(This last bit about the pants is because, unlike Anna, Dana apparently does like to dance around her apartment in only her underwear. You know. In broad daylight with her windows wide open. As you do. This is either to nail home the point that Dana is not your typical, modest, I-love-Jesus-and-hate-fun heroine that she’s supposed to be, or because it’s a horror movie, and everyone wanted Kristen Connolly to dance around in her panties for awhile, so why the hell not?)

It turns out that The Agency (I don’t know what else to call them) has been working at turning these characters into their assigned archetypes for awhile now. They provided the box of blonde hair dye to Jules, for instance, which has been treated with some kind of slow-acting drug that basically serves to make her stupider. At the cabin, they release pheromones that’ll make the friends horny and inclined to make dumb decisions. And if you’re wondering about our scholar, Holden, well . . . one can only assume he was chosen to participate because he has reading glasses, knows a little Latin, and is named Holden. He doesn’t initially appear to be any nerdier or brighter than anyone else in this crew.

So, anyway, the gang gets into their van, and they drive out to Curt’s cousin’s cabin in the middle of nowhere. On the way there, they stop at an old gas station that, of course, is another part of the Company’s big scheme. Mordecai (Tim de Zarn), the guy who owns the gas station, is about as charming as you might expect, spitting as he talks and calling Jules a whore for really no reason at all.

If you ever meet the Creepy Gas Station Attendant, turn around and go back home. It’s not worth your life, man.

After the friends are on their way to certain doom, Mordecai calls The Company, and this leads to what I think is the funniest scene in the whole movie.

See, no one really likes Mordecai. He’s not just some company stooge acting a part—he really is a weird old religious nut. But he’s a part of the charade because the creepy gas station attendant is a vital element of the ritual. Just like later, when Curt and Jules are making out in the woods, The Company needs a gratuitous tit shot. It’s not just about killing off kids. There are certain rules that need to be followed for this thing to be a success.

So, Hadley reluctantly takes the call from Mordecai, putting it on speakerphone so that everyone else can silently laugh at him. This is how the conversation goes:

Hadley: “Mordecai, baby. What’s happening? How’s the weather up top?”

Mordecai: “The lambs have passed through the gate. They are come to the killing floor.”

Hadley: “Well, you’re . . . you’re doing a great job out there. By the numbers, man. You gotta start it off just right. So we’ll talk to you later, okay?”

Mordecai: “Their blind eyes sees nothing of the horror to come. Their ears are stopped. They are the guards fools.”

Hadley: “Well, that’s how it works.”

Mordecai: “Cleanse them, cleanse the world of their ignorance and sin. Bathe in the crimson of . . . am I on speaker phone?”

Hadley: “No! Absolutely not. Speaker phone? No! No! I wouldn’t do that.”

Mordecai: “Yes, I am. I can hear the echo.”

Hadley: “Oh, my God! You’re right. Hang on one second, I’ll take you off.”

Mordecai: “That’s rude. I don’t know who’s in the room!”

Hadley: “Fine, there.”

(Hadley pretends to take Mordecai speaker phone as the others are trying to hold in their laughter, mostly failing.)

Mordecai: “Thank you. Don’t take this lightly, boy. It wasn’t all by your ‘numbers’; the Reveler fooled you and derailed the invocation with his insolence. The injured one see everything, and they will not be . . . I’m still on speaker phone, aren’t I?

(Hadley and Sitterson just start cracking up.)

Hadley: Oh, my God! Mordecai! I can’t believe it! I did it again. Morty?!

I know that transcription in no way does this scene justice, but it’s just the most hilarious thing on screen. Sitterson and Hadley’s laughter is completely contagious—and that’s the interesting thing about this movie: you like Sitterson and Hadley, or at least I did. They aren’t some ominous men in black suits, smirking evilly and twirling their long mustaches or whatever. They’re white collar, middle-management guys, very human and very funny. I like the five friends, and I was rooting for them to make it out—especially considering the ridiculous amount of odds against them—but I was also rooting for Sitterson and Hadley because, well, just because they were so awesome, I couldn’t not root for them.

Sitterson and Hadley also have a betting pool on which particular horror will befall the friends.

See, our heroes are playing a game of truth or dare—because of course they are—and after Jules makes out with a wolf’s head on the wall (which is both creepy because ew and tense because you think those giant teeth are going to bite down on her tongue at any second) a trap door to the basement opens up. Everyone goes downstairs to find pretty much every creepy thing from every type of horror movie ever imaginable. Despite Marty’s desperation to move the party back upstairs, the others ignore him and start fooling around with the various items. Each of these things will unleash a different monster if triggered—Curt, for instance, is playing with a puzzle box, which could have brought forth this guy:

The Lord of Bondage and Pain

And there’s something about this that I really love—it reminds me of this board game I have, Betrayal at House on the Hill, where you and your friends play a group of people who explore this creepy old house, and the scenario, monster, and traitor changes each time you play depending on what tiles and cards you draw. The basic setup never alters, but the outcome can be wildly different from game to game—and that’s the kind of thing that just sets my imagination on fire. It’s the same reason I love Community’s episode “Remedial Chaos Theory” or, hell, even Run Lola Run. I just love the idea of starting out at a very basic premise and seeing the multitude of ways it can spiral down depending on one tiny, seemingly insignificant factor.

(Also, if you’re interested, IMDb has a list here of every monster in the betting pool, as well as which department betted on them and which movie the monster is an allusion to. It’s kind of cool.)

Anyway. Much to Marty’s horror, Dana reads some Latin from a journal, triggering the Redneck Torture Zombies. Which, Sitterson has to explain to one disappointed co-worker, is not the same thing as regular zombies. (“You had zombies. But this is zombie redneck torture family. Entirely separate thing. It’s like the difference between an elephant and an elephant seal.”) He also consoles Hadley, who desperately wanted the bad guy to be a merman for once. (“I’ll never see a merman,” Hadley complains. I can understand his frustration. Unicorn is apparently one of the possibilities on this list, and I can’t tell you how long I’ve waited to see an evil unicorn. Do you know how different this movie could have been if a unicorn had been triggered? Seriously, my brain is burning right now from all the gory possibilities.)

So, anyway. Marty thinks something weird is going on here, but no one believes him, particularly considering how stoned he is. (We find out later that Marty’s pot is somehow making him invulnerable to all the other pheromones and bad-decision-making gasses that are going around.) Curt and Jules go outside to fuck around, and when the redneck torture zombies come, they kill Jules. Decapitate her, actually, which is really not nice.

Curt runs back inside and is dangerously close to making a smart decision (let’s stick together, he says) when Sitterson interferes. Curt breathes in some more bad-decision-making gas and is like, actually, let’s not stick together. While Marty’s incredulous reaction makes it funny, this is the one part in the movie where I’m not crazy about the interference. I’m cool with the sexy-time pheromones and the slow-acting hair dye and the trap doors, but there’s something a bit too specific about this gas that instantly has Curt deciding everyone has to split up. I don’t know; it just bugged me.

Marty is in his bedroom when he accidentally discovers a video camera in his lamp. Before he can do much about it, one of the torture zombies bursts through the glass window and pulls Marty out of the house. (That’s a trope, too, although I couldn’t find a specific page for it on Television and Tropes, sadly. Still, I can think of two other horror movies off the top of my head that does this.) Marty is dragged off screen and is apparently violently killed.

Unfortunately, if you’ve seen the trailer, you’re probably not fooled by this because there are scenes with Marty and Dana that clearly happen later in the film. I mean, I don’t always remember everything from a trailer when I see the movie, but these two are rather prominently near an elevator at one point, which stands out a bit against the whole isolated cabin in the woods thing. While watching the film, I did wonder if Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard were possibly fucking with us and had purposefully filmed things for the trailer that didn’t actually happen in the movie—it seemed like the kind of devious thing that they might do—but when Marty turned up alive later, I wasn’t too surprised. Moving on.

Curt, Holden, and Dana try to drive to freedom. Sitterson and Hadley freak out because the mountain tunnel hasn’t exploded and caved in yet, like it was supposed to. Added pressure: Japan, who has that 100% success rate I mentioned earlier, has actually failed, much to Sitterson’s disbelief: “How hard is it to kill nine-year-olds?” Apparently, the little girls managed to turn the evil spirit into a frog or something, which just seems brilliantly Japanese. (Sitterson screaming, “Fuck you! Fuck you! Fuck you! Fuck you!” at the monitor is another one of the funniest moments in the whole movie.) Now, America is the last hope of the world. If they fail . . . something very bad happens, although at this point, we still don’t know exactly what that is yet.

Sitterson manages to cave in the tunnel at the last minute, leaving Curt, Holden, and Dana on the wrong side of a very, very deep gorge. (Like, you can’t even see the bottom of it deep.) Curt plans to use his bike to jump the canyon, which just sounds ridiculously suicidal to me, but he’s sure he can make it, as he’s done bigger jumps before. The audience knows he won’t, though, because there’s some kind of invisible, electric wall in the middle of the gorge, and earlier in the film, we saw an eagle fly straight into it and die.

It’s actually kind of sad, honestly. Curt has sort of an awesome speech—“I’ll get help. If I wipe out, I’ll fucking limp for help. But I’m coming back here. I’m coming back with cops and choppers and large fucking guns, and those things are going to pay. For Jules”—but it doesn’t matter. He’s doomed, and we know he’s doomed. He flies straight into the wall and basically bounces down it to his death.

Holden and Dana get into the van and take off in the other direction. Dana is having a quiet little freakout, and Holden tells her to snap out of it, saying whatever happens, they need to stick together or something like that. Then a zombie, which is hidden in the backseat, stabs Holden through the neck, killing him. (Always check the backseat, people. ALWAYS. Some of these tropes actually play pretty straight, considering.) The van goes crashing into a lake, and Dana escapes and swims to the dock, only to be attacked by another zombie.

Meanwhile, everyone in The Agency is celebrating because they think they’ve won. Truman doesn’t understand this as Dana isn’t actually dead yet, but Hadley points out that the Virgin’s death is optional, as long as she dies last. It’s a darkly funny scene—everyone’s partying to really loud music while completely ignoring Dana being attacked on the screens behind them—until the red phone rings, the one that’s from DOWNSTAIRS. Hadley tells everyone to shut the hell up and goes to answer it. We can’t hear the other side of the conversation, but he argues that everything went according to the ritual and that the Virgin is the last one alive. After a moment, he sharply turns around and asks, “Which one?”

Which is when Marty shows up and saves Dana from the zombie. Knowing that Marty survived the initial attack doesn’t ruin the movie or anything, but it would have played better if you hadn’t known. Marty tells Dana how he survived (“I had to dismember that guy with a trowel”) and shows her the control panels he’s found, which is why the tunnel didn’t blow like it was supposed to. He’s also found an elevator.

“I think I can get it to go down,” Marty tells her. “Do we want to go down?” Dana asks, legitimately—I mean, seriously, people, going down is almost always a very obviously bad idea; this bothered me even as a child watching The Labyrinth for the first time—-but they have no where else to go, so they indeed ride downwards.

The elevator is actually like a big glass cube, and Marty and Dana find themselves staring into a bunch of other big glass cubes, each holding some kind of monster or another—basically, all the bad guys they could have triggered in the cellar. Dana figures this out and essentially freaks the hell out. The pan-out to look at all the cubes is actually a pretty cool shot.

Eventually, they get out of the elevator. Dana purposefully unleashes all the monsters to kill the agents who are trying to kill them. This leads to a gigantic bloodbath, the kind of which I have not seen on screen, like, ever.

Behind the scenes, but still. Look at all that red!

I mean, pretty much every monster or baddie you can think of is killing people here. There are ghosts, clowns, aliens, witches, demons, werewolves, giant spiders, unicorns. A unicorn gores a soldier with his horn. Yes. YES. My wish to see Evil Unicorn has actually been fulfilled after all. (I mean, I’d still like to have seen this movie with Holden, Curt, and the others running away from a rampaging unicorn, but nevertheless. Evil unicorn. EVIL UNICORN. I’m so happy just thinking about it.) Point being, this is an EPIC bloodbath—this is the scene I couldn’t stop thinking of after the film was over. Even if the rest of the movie had sucked (and it didn’t), this scene would have made the film worth watching.

Needless Truman is killed off. (Before we realized it was Marty, I thought Truman might have sabotaged the cave, as well as possibly all of the other rituals in the world.) Mek thought that maybe Truman was supposed to be an averted trope himself—the nice guy working for the bad guys who finally sacrifices himself in some big way in order to help the heroes. And I actually like that idea, but Truman himself is just so boring that when he died, I was just like, That’s it? No, really, that’s it? I know someone needed to ask questions to clue the audience in, but I wish the character had been given a little more to do—or else had a spectacular actor who just managed to shine through despite this complete lack of personality.

An explosion knocks Hadley halfway across the room. Stunned, he tries to slowly get back up when he hears squelching sounds coming towards him. It is, of course, the merman that he’s been wanting to see all movie. “Oh, come on!” Hadley says, hilariously, right before his face gets munched off. Aw. Bye, Bradley Whitford.

Lin and Sitterson try to escape to the lower levels. Lin abruptly gets snatched by some tentacles coming from the ceiling and is carried off. Sitterson successfully gets downstairs but runs directly into Dana and Marty and quickly gets stabbed to death for his trouble. Before he dies, Sitterson begs Dana to kill Marty, much to their confusion.

Dana and Marty run off and end up in The Temple. The Director of the Agency pops up—and it’s Sigourney Weaver!

Yes, perhaps this is actually from Ghostbusters. Shut up.

God, I love a good cameo.

Sigourney Weaver explains to Dana and Marty (and the audience) that the old gods, the Ancient Ones, are underneath every society and demand a ritual sacrifice once a year to appease them. There must be at least five people to sacrifice, and they all must represent certain archetypes. (Hilariously, when Dana questions her Virgin archetype, the Director says, “We work with what we’ve got.” Heh.) If the ritual is not completed by dawn—in eight minutes—the Ancient Ones will rise and destroy every human being on the planet. And the ritual can only be completed if Marty dies.

“If you live to see it, the world will end.” -Director
“Maybe that’s the way it should be. If you have to kill all my friends to survive, maybe it’s time for a change.” – Marty
“We’re not talking about change. We’re talking about the agonizing death of every human soul on the planet, including you. You can die with them, or you can die for them.”
“That is so enticing.” – Marty

This is about when Dana pulls her gun on Marty, much to Marty’s disbelief and anger. “The whole world, Marty?” she asks, clearly trying to steel herself into killing him. She apologizes, for whatever that’s worth. A werewolf lurks in the background right behind her. Marty sees it but doesn’t warn her. “I’m sorry too,” he says.

The werewolf attacks, nearly killing Dana. The Director tries to take out Marty herself, and a zombie girl attacks both of them. Marty manages to knock both the zombie girl and the Director off the platform into, well, Hell. (Or where the Ancient Ones live. Whatever. Same difference.) I don’t actually remember what happens to the werewolf, but presumably he either dies or runs away to eat some other people. A half-dead Dana and an exhausted Marty sit on a staircase. Marty lights a joint and passes it to her.

The last lines in the film?

“I’m so sorry I almost shot you. I probably wouldn’t have.” -Dana
“Hey, shhh, no. I totally get it. I’m sorry I let you get attacked by a werewolf and then ended the world.” – Marty
“No, I think you were right. It’s time to give someone else a chance.” -Dana
“Giant evil gods.” – Marty
“I wish I could have seen it.” – Dana
“I know. That would have been a fun weekend.” – Marty

Marty and Dana hold hands as the Temple starts to shake and collapse. Then we flash up to the surface, where a giant hand smashes up through the ground and destroys the cabin. The Ancient Ones have risen, and the movie ends.

Well.

First, I love that Marty lets the werewolf attack Dana, that he doesn’t go gently in that good night and all that for the fate of the world. Noble self-sacrifice is all well and good, but I doubt it’s the kind of thing you jump both feet into without hesitation. (Okay, well, maybe you better people do. For the rest of us, martyrdom is not a natural instinct.) Marty raises the question about whether the world is even worthy of being saved, and it’s a valid question—and one we’ll discuss in more detail a bit later—but I don’t think Marty’s choice to keep silent about the werewolf really springs from that. I think there’s definitely a bit more fuck you for trying to kill me mixed in there. You know, there’s a sense of betrayal, if only in that moment.

Then, as they sit on the staircase, they also have that moment which I really like, that whole ‘sorry I tried to kill you/let you be attacked by a werewolf thing’ that’s so oddly sweet and endearing. I really have this thing for stories where characters ignore what the right thing to do is by a utilitarian perspective and focus more on doing right by their loved ones or, for that matter, doing right by themselves.

But now, if we’re looking at this movie in a meta-perspective, what are we talking about here? What is The Cabin in the Woods saying about the horror genre? Well, there are certainly enough interviews and articles talking about how the Ancient Ones are really just like the audience, who need to see punishment and suffering and death. It’s not enough to just watch people get killed on screen. No one wants to just see someone “throw a girl in a volcano.” That’s not horror. We want to watch people do stupid shit and then suffer consequences for it. These characters have to be agonized; they have to be emotionally and/or physically tortured before being gruesomely murdered; otherwise, we are not satisfied. Sitterson and Hadley have been likened to the writers of the genre, crafting the story and making sure to include elements to keep the customer happy.

And all of this is very interesting—like any good horror fan, I sometimes have to look at why I like the genre so much because it’s a very hard thing to articulate to people who, possibly understandably, don’t enjoy watching people being hacked apart by redneck torture zombies—but I gotta be honest here: this isn’t why I’m in kind of in love with the movie. I mean, it’s good stuff, and I prefer to think of the meta as a way of looking at the genre in general, not as a method to criticize torture porn—as some interviews I’ve seen have unfortunately suggested—but honestly, the stuff that really gets me on an intellectual level is a lot of the character and philosophy stuff. I’m kind of interested in discussing why people crave gratuitous sex and violence, but I’m really interested in seeing how three-dimensional people are shaped and molded into generic archetypes. I’m interested in the difference between sacrificial victims and martyrs and people who refuse to be either. I’m interested in questions like is killing your friend in order to save the world actually the right thing to do? That’s where I really connect to The Cabin in the Woods, not for all the meta, necessarily, but for the various philosophies lying behind it.

Also, it’s a singularly unique film that makes me sympathize with both the heroes and the villains, and then kills off each and every one of them . . . and I still like it.

CONCLUSIONS:

One of the smartest horror-comedies I’ve ever seen. Few small problems, but nothing too, too serious. May need to watch it a few more times to really soak it in and pick up on the things I missed on a first go.

MVP:

Richard Jenkins and Bradley Whitford. There is no winner between these two.

LVP:

Brian White

TENTATIVE GRADE:

A-

MORAL:

Hmmm. Maybe we don’t really deserve this world after all?

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4 Responses to “I’m Drawing a Line in the Fucking Sand Here. Do NOT Read The Latin.”

  1. Susan says:

    Truman was there to show one side of the audience’s conscious…the part of us that thinks it’s terrible to cheer on teenagers being killed in movies and placing bets. He was also there to throw us off because in a typical movie he would’ve done something to help save the kids, but this was not a typical movie and he ended up being useless.

    • The problem, I think, is that the role of Conscience is a fairly dull one if you don’t bother to also give the guy a bit of personality. Jiminy Cricket is a hard sell outside of Pinocchio, you know? I like the idea of using Truman to throw off the audience, but it would have worked a lot better if he had any semblance of actual character. (Or, at the very least, some spark of charisma.)

  2. boradis says:

    I give the film the same grade, and I agree the trailer gave away too much by showing those later scenes with Marty.

    There are only two tiny plot nits I have to pick with the film.

    1) What was the point of the painting and one-way mirror? In that scene they establish the cabin is creepy while Holden isn’t — but it’s never addressed again. Why was it there? What was its purpose? It obviously wasn’t used by the Agency for observation since they’ve got cameras everywhere. It also didn’t seem to be part of the ritual. I understand the painting/mirror/observation room triad served as a visual metaphor for the whole film, but within the story itself it seemed incongruous.

    2) What was to stop the sacrifices from triggering the rest of the bestiary after Dana read the Latin? Do the monsters have a gentleman’s agreement? Or do the Old Ones’ rules stipulate only one horror can be triggered per ritual? I think it could have used a line of exposition.

    But as I said, these are tiny question marks on an overall great film.

  3. Kirsten says:

    This is the first movie that made me burst into laughter at the arrival of the TITLE ON THE SCREEN. Seriously. So glad we finally watched it!

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