One of the rare, positive things about a film genre being so steeped in cliché and the usual plots and character types is that it makes a huge impact when you change it, even slightly. The changes make a huge amount of difference and if they are good, can make a decent film into an incredible one. The horror genre is full of the usual clichés and lazy films that aren’t doing anything differently. That’s part of the reason that Cabin in the Woods is so brilliant, because it does something subtly different at first, leading to an incredible film later.
The only issue with a review of Cabin in the Woods is giving too much away. I always try to avoid spoilers anyway but I’m even less inclined to speak about the key elements of the film because watching this movie completely fresh is the way to approach it.
Not that it’s not obvious from the beginning that this isn’t a standard, kids getting tormented and killed in the woods horror movie. It opens with a mundane, slightly cryptic conversation between two scientist in a futuristic looking laboratory. This gives you just a small idea that this film is not going to be the standard horror fare and what it actually is, though quite conventional at the beginning, becomes something much better, and cooler later.
That’s the key to the movie. It’s not just different, playing on the clichés and usual tricks of a horror film. Its different in a clever way. The overall idea, hidden beneath the surface of the movie, is brilliant. The climax to the whole movie could be a film in itself. I would watch the final act, with its creative, original ideas, stretched over a whole ninety minute movie. I was interested to begin with and engrossed towards the end.
It’s a film that I want to see again, being able to pause and focus on scenes I didn’t realise were important. A scene involving a lift (that is all I’m going to say) should be watched on slow-motion, taking in all the different aspects to that scene alone. It’s a film with loads of brilliant ideas that aren’t even developed and left with pure potential.
At first, the fact that they didn’t develop some of the cooler elements that are revealed later annoyed me. There were things I would want to see more of and have developed further. Thinking back though, the decisions that are made actually help trick the audience. The initial threat is quite standard and mundane because that is what you are expecting. The characters are all stereotypes because the film is playing on the horror genre and its usual clichés. The film makes much more of an impact because the first half is less than original with a few, teasing reveals.
I knew there was something about Cabin in the Woods that made it slightly different. I watched with an open mind and expected a “twist.” Although it’s not a “twist” as such, you will be surprised if you watch the movie with fresh eyes and its that unique ending to the whole film which makes it so brilliant.
Overall, Cabin in the Woods does a great job of highlighting the usual horror movie stereotypes and clichés and altering them. It puts the same character types, threat and setting under the spotlight and then dramatically changes everything, creating a different film but a much better one in the process. Watch it with no spoilers and no expectations and I guarantee you will be pleasantly surprised.
Rating – 5!
(1 – Awful, 2 – Average, 3 – Good, 4 – Great, 5! – Must See)