The ______ Birthday Present Ever!

Back in April, I celebrated surviving 21 short years on this earth with a full day of classes and my first beer ever.  Despite the fact that it had to be on a Monday, it was a really good birthday (if you are ever in Azusa, CA make sure you hit up Congregation downtown).  My parents sent me a really nice letter. My girlfriend Emily gave me some coffee.  And Ryan gave me…..well, he gave me a heart attack:

First and foremost, know this:  I don’t do horror films, games, etc.  I have never particularly liked the “Jump out and Scare you” kind of genre because it really does get to me.  I got freaked out watching Resident Evil for heaven’s sake!  The only “horror” films I have ever enjoyed are Jaws and The Shining, neither of which are that kind of movie.  So when Ryan and our friend Kyle highly recommended that I see Cabin in the Woods, I wasn’t really convinced.  As I told them, it is not the kind of film I would pay to see in a theater.  So Ryan decided that he would make my birthday present a free ticket to go see it with him.  …Thanks.

All joking aside, I can honestly say I enjoyed the film.  There were certainly a lot of moments when I wondered “why I am watching this?” but overall it was a really fun and I can at least tentatively recommend it.

So the obvious question that every person seeing the film asks is this:  What the hell is this film about? Going in, I had heard that it is a horror film and that it messes with the genre conventions.
That’s it.

Think “Scooby Doo”.  Now stopping thinking “Scooby Doo” because this is nothing like that at all. Well, it is about a group of teens who go to a Cabin in the Woods (yup) and then junk happens.  I can’t remember who I heard say this but honestly the best way to see this film is without any preconceptions about it.  Basically, this review ultimately can be summed up by saying “Go see it. Trust me.”  It is an Incredible rollercoaster of a film, toying with you the entire time and being a thrill-fest of fun.

Three thoughts about it before I wrap up.
First, I find it hilarious that just when I started thinking Joss Whedon might be somebody I could wholly and unrestrainedly devote my fanboy attention to (just like we all did for Nolan after Dark Knight), this happens. 🙂  Unbeknownst to most until his name flashes twice in the opening credits, Joss Whedon co-wrote and produced Cabin in the Woods and his influence, I am sure, helped make this something special.  Two Whedon films in a week – looks like the beginning of a great summer.

Number Two **INVOLVES SPOILERS** so you are warned.
While I enjoyed the film, I have to say that much of the reason I had difficulty with it is that it sets itself up at the beginning as a “Sin–>Consequence” Horror film.  Think something like Cry Wolf or Friday the 13th where some injustice is done by a few foolish children and thusly they reap their own destruction, while the good and moral one/two somehow survive.  This is how Cabin in the Woods starts off, with the people behind the scenes saying that their job is to “get them in the basement” and then it is their decision.  This sets up the aforementioned narrative structure and led me to believe that the kids were going to do something at least somewhat wrong to deserve their punishment. However, the “sin” they commit is reading from a diary…and if that is wrong I think most Junior Higher’s would be viscously dismembered right now.  It is only much later in the film (say…Act III) where it is explained that this was a Zero-Sum game – the kids all had to die to placate some ancient evil being and thus there was NO choice involved.  I am still not crazy about this and the ending is certainly interesting (in a somewhat Defeatist way), but I would say that this is the one major flaw in the film that made it very hard for me to enjoy the first go ’round.  Perhaps a second viewing would help but I am really not feeling like putting myself through more trauma today. 🙂
**END SPOILERS**

Finally, I wanted to give a brief warning about Cabin in the Woods.  While it is a fascinating, fun, and hilariously gut-wrenching film, I can only tentatively recommend it because I don’t think everyone should see it.  I have already expressed my own fears about horror films and if you don’t like Hacker/Slasher films, this one is DEFINITELY not for you.  Also (and please realize that there are mountains of debate over censorship subtexted here) there are a lot of sensual situations in the film including female full frontal so please think very hard about what company you wish to see this film. There were two kids in the theater that couldn’t have been older than 16 and I certainly thought that this was not something they should have been seeing.  In fact, when we went to the theater, I was actually carded.  I had no idea why other than a vague notion that it could be thought that Ryan was buying tickets for a minor (me or otherwise) but when we sat down to watch it I understood why. Again, please consider carefully if you think you are up for this kind of thing.

Overall I can say that I had fun – that I laughed and nearly pissed myself several times.  If you don’t mind the extremes to which the filmmakers take it, I think Cabin in the Woods could be your kind of film.  I still think it isn’t my particular cup of chamomile (and it didn’t help that I am playing Bioshock right now either) but I definitely enjoyed it in the end and would recommend it to select audiences….of crazy people. 🙂

Rating:  8//10

Oh and if you do go, be sure to pay close attention to the board (you will know what I am talking about).  My favorite is “Kevin”.

Scariest. Effing. Moment. Of. The. Movie.

Thanks for sticking around!  I would love to hear your thoughts on this depraved film. 🙂  Maybe you can deal with this stuff better than I can (and Lord bless you for it).  Leave me a comment below with your own review of Cabin in the Woods.

I am quickly becoming a fan of the short blurb teaser for the next review.  Might become a new thing. At least I going to try it again here and see how that goes.  So until next time, thanks for tuning in and I will see you again for:  “The Saddest WASP Ever”.

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Author: Tyler D. Welch

Filmmaker, Storyteller, Scholar

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