Movies that Rule: The Cabin in The Woods – By Gavin Muirhead

Gavin takes a look at the Hor-O-medy “The Cabin in The Woods. Or as he affectionately referred to it as, ” Evil Cabin In The Dead Woods of Asgard.” Spoilers by the way.

If you are anything like me, and I’m sure your not, but if you are – you didn’t see Cabin In The Woods when it came out in the theaters, nor did you know that Joss Whedon wrote this movie (Alien Resurection, Avengers, Buffy, Roseanne…)

 That’s ok, In fact, good job.

 Just the other day this movie came out on the various home release formats, and last night I decided to spend $5.99 to watch it with my lady, whom I’ll admit was not too into the idea at first.

 So lets push play on this magic sleigh ride..

 The first 10 minutes or so are the usual “plot development” character introduction shots with the usual line up: Curt – The Jock Played by Chris Hemsworth,  Holden – The Smarty played by Jesse Williams, Jules –  The Slut brought to you by Anna Hutchison, Dana – The Innocent , played by Kristen Connolly and The Stoner Guy. Immediately, we fell in love with “Marty” the stoner guy, played by Fran Kranz. He has a heart of gold, and a coffee mug that telescopes into a collapsible bong/blunt force trauma inducer that Kevin Smith wishes he thought of first.

 The story seems simple enough, 5 friends need to blow off some steam after a long year of college and decide to take a trip to Curt’s cousins cabin, in the woods. Awesome, who needs depth in a story line anyway, certainly not myself. I know what to expect from this movie, and character depth was not it.

 After seeing the movie, I realize this was purposely done. You see, these poor kids have no idea what they are getting in too, and it seems they have no real reason for going camping in the first place, and the group they assemble to go on the trip – is a total hodgepodge. More on this later.

 The movie centers itself around “Dana” a shy, low self esteemed bookworm type, who gets tooted and booted by her professor in the first 5 minutes of the movie, making her frigid and untrusting of having a boyfriend or letting her freak flag fly. Being a good friend “Jules” brings Dana on a camping trip to get her out of her funk. To ensure Dana defrosts a little bit, they bring along “Holden” as man bait, while Marty is just the 5th wheel in this situation, and has been securely stuck in the “friend zone” for quite some time it seems.

 Now, this is about the time when you are introduced to the architects of this entire situation, Richard Sitterson (Richard Jenkins) and Steve Hadley (played by the weasel guy from Billy Madison). These gentlemen work for some nameless government organization and are in charge of the entire situation unfolding around this group of youngsters. Richard and Steve are easily some of the best parts of the movie, and function like the audience in a lot of ways and say the stuff you say to your friends while watching movies of this nature. They make bets on who is going to get killed by what, and like to keep things interesting. Which in their line of work should be pretty simple.

Just another day at the office.

So, here they are – 5 friends off on a whirlwind adventure of drinking, smoking, and having premarital sex in Thor’s cousin’s cabin. On the way to said cabin, they stop at a gas station that looks to be plucked directly from the Hills Have Eyes franchise, and the attendant “Mordecai” (Tim DeZarn) fit’s the part of ominously positioned crazed redneck guy perfectly. He doesn’t take kindly to outsiders and has an extreme distaste for whores, as he so eloquently states while spitting his Lip Dip all over the place. He almost gets himself hammer-smashed by Thor err… “Curt” for his comments towards the women of low moral regard riding in Curt’s RV. Instead of a thunderous beatdown, he throws $20 in Mordecai’s face for the gas and they head up to the cabin.

Mordecai… Without Rigby.

At this point we are maybe 15-20 minutes into the movie so far, my girlfriend is obviously hating me for putting this on and is only keeping quiet on the subject because I promised it would be entertaining. Just as I notice her distaste for the movie thus far, they arrive at the cabin, which is in the woods if you haven’t been following along. At first glance of the cabin, I hear “F**k That, I would sleep in the RV” from my girlfriend across the couch – Hearing that, I knew this was worth $6.

The cabin itself looks to be the same one they used for Evil Dead and Cabin Fever, which is great. If they had used something original, I would have been upset because the movie is such a glaring homage to those aforementioned titles that the cabin itself is a character, and the familiar storylines give you the sense of… “ok, where the hell is Bruce Campbell, and why did no one bring a Boom Stick?”

Que up the creepy cabin and 5 hormone filled whipper snappers and let the games begin!

Things kick off in the usual manner for the group of friends, Music, beers, flirting and a game of truth or dare. As everyone is having such a grand time, breaking horror movie rules #1-6, Richard and Steve are nestled in their government lock down facility that has an Umbrella Corp feel to it, and a Cube 2: Hypercube storage system, gearing up for the entire movie themselves, like the Truman show meets Halloween Resurrection. These guys are busy, running around collecting all the bets from the various departments in the building, Maintenance, Chemical lab, Operations, Zoological Dept, all the usual departments you would think a horror-movie-making government agency would have within it’s ranks – as the bet’s come in, Richard is asked why Steve and himself can make so much fun out of their jobs, and he says “we just make the best out of a bad situation, and it’s for the greater good”

The options for things that they have on their betting wall are very impressive. Just the amount of ideas used to make the board would have taken the HefferBrew crew at least an hour to come up with, pretty impressed to say the least. Betters can wager on things like: Zombies, Tigers, Mermen, Torturous Redneck Zombies (not the same as zombies, as the loser of the bet finds out), Asian ghost girls, werewolves, sexy witches, giant snakes, and “Kevin”. Not sure what “Kevin” is, but he’s probably the choice I wouldn’t want to fight against.

Here is a picture of Richard and “The Board” to see all of the interesting choices:

Angry Molesting Tree anyone?

Anyway, after the bets are in and the kids are sufficiently intoxicated – the architects throw the campers a baited hook – The floor of the cabin randomly springs open to reveal a dingy basement, and the traditional comments of “oh no stupid! Don’t go in there!?” start flowing out of the mouths of us watching. Marty, the only one with any real sense tries to get them to ignore the invitation to certain doom, and not go in the basement, while Holden – who is supposed to be smart – says maybe the wind opened the door, which Marty sarcastically states “ya, because that makes sense.” Naturally, this happens during their game of Truth or Dare, and poor Dana is dared to trek into the basement and find out what is going on. Soon enough she gets spooked and the rest of the group joins her in the basement filled with all kinds of stuff that should never be touched. Old dresses that look to belong to someone from the 1800’s, strange puzzle balls, music boxes, old film on reels – all of these items, unknown to the kids are key’s that decide which monsters they are about to release, thusly winning the betting pot for the guys watching.

I dare you

In keeping with the Evil Dead theme, Dana picks up an old diary and start to read it. As she does, Marty again tries to be the voice of reason and says “put that down, we should not be here. Lets go back and forget about this room” Ignoring his statements, Dana reads the diary and then finds a passage written in Latin. Marty pleads with her, “OK, ENOUGH! DO NOT READ THE LATIN, SERIOUSLY NOTHING GOOD EVER COMES FROM THAT”

She doesn’t listen.

Reads the Latin, and nothing happens. So, back upstairs to resume partying.

As things progress Thor and Athena, I mean Curt and Jules go for a frolic in the woods to find a nice place to break rule #3, all the while The Buckners (family of Torturous Zombie Rednecks) are coming back from the dead to torture and kill them all as a blood sacrifice to appease the gods of old.  Yup, Hades in the bitch. And he’s thirsty, for blood.

You can imagine where this goes from here, Jules gets some wood in the woods and is brutally beheaded with a 2 man lumber saw while Curt tries to zip his pants up. The Whore always goes first, and when Curt tries to save her from doom – he gets a trowel in the back and his girlfriends blood sprayed all over him.

Back at the Cabin, Marty has the whole thing figured out and springs.. well… floats into action and tries to warn everyone, which does nothing, and the cabin is soon under attack. Marty run out the door and is attacked by a zombie with the same trowel used to stab Curt, and he vanishes.

Now your left with Dana, Holden, and Curt who try to make the escape from this cabin, piling into the RV they fail to notice the obvious signs of zombie-in-the-backseat and take off up the road. More things go wrong and they are trapped in this valley of death with no way out, unless you are Thor on a dirtbike. With only a 15 foot gap to jump, it should be no problem for him to jump the road and go get help for the others, right?

Wrong.

Here comes Thor, hauling ass on his dirt bike, looking determined and triumphant, takes the leap of faith off the canyon wall and looks like he has plenty of speed to make the jump and then SPLAT! Invisible force field takes him out like a bug lantern in a Chinese food restaurant, as his carcass spins down the canyon, buncing off the force field on the way down, the remaining pair go back to the RV desperate to find a way out of this hell, and while holden is driving the RV back down the road, you hear it. The magical phrase of every horror movie, “don’t worry, it’s going to be OK” Just ask Holden tells Dana it’s Ok, a giant meat hook rips through his neck and dominates his blood stream, and landing Dana, the TZR, and the RV in a lake.

Oh.. I can totally make it

As Dana swims to safety and pulls herself from the water onto the dock, and rolls over with relief she is still alive, a giant Redneck zombie starts throwing bear traps on chains at her. And just when she is about to wear a beartrap facemask – Marty saves the day with his Bong Saber.  Bludgeoning the massive inbred beartrap ninja to re-death until they escape.

Couldn’t handle his hit…

As they run away, Marty drags Dana into the grave of one of the Zombies chasing them. Once inside they find its actually a utility room and with what’s left of the zombie that you thought killed Marty earlier, after he casually chops it up with a gardening trowel. He explains to her that this is all a sick game, and that they are in an Elevator, and the only way out of the woods, is to go down in the elevator into the unknown below them.

Marty does some magical mary-jane hot wiring and get the elevator to go down, and sideways, and around. It’s like Cube 2, things shift around and organize within itself until a specific beast/killer/thing is selected to be released and you get a glimpse of all the awesome things that were on the betting wall earlier in the movie.

This is where things go seriously wrong for everyone. Richard and Steve are having a party, thinking they did a job well done and saved the world again, when they realize that Marty and Dana are still alive and inside the complex it screws up the feeding schedule to Hades and they go into damage control mode. Which is countered by Dana hitting the “purge” button and releasing all the crazy stuff from the betting board into the government base, and creating an insane murderfest with giant snakes eating people, ghosts taking souls, a Pinhead ripoff guy, twins from “the Shining”, and what’s a murderfest without a werewolf?

Sure, I’ve left some things out. But by the end of this movie I was laughing my ass off. Simply put.

The entire thing is one big homage to every horror monster ever, with snappy lines and wonderful comedic timing. Full of blood, really good visual effects (with the exception of the Merman costume) and a surprisingly good storyline, I am happy to say this movie is being added to my personal collection.

Damn, cleanup on these things must be a nightmare.

In closing, and if you haven’t already clicked away to do so – See this move. Or buy it. Or find a friend to seed it from, but view it however you can. If you’re a fan of the horror genre and can appreciate a good classic Hor-O-medy, then this is easily the best thing to come out since Sean Of The Dead.

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