31 Days of Hell: The Cabin in the Woods

Patrick reviews one of the best horror entries of the past decade, The Cabin in the Woods.

"Mirror mirror on the wall....
Holy crap! When did I turn
into a woman!???"
To provide insights on what makes The Cabin in the Woods such a great movie is a self-defeating endeavor.  The Cabin in the Woods is great because of its mystery.  To spoil its incredible, unexpected narrative would be an immense disservice to one of the most enjoyable horror films in recent years, and as such, this review may seem vague and without focus - but the bottom line remains - if you haven’t seen this movie, and it hasn’t yet been spoiled for you, make it the next horror movie in your queue.

The Cabin in the Woods is masterful in its juxtaposition.  On one hand, it is a classic American slasher film, complete with frantic pacing, jump scares, and an adherence to formula that will make any horror fan nostalgic.  On the other hand, this film is something else entirely.  What the something else is, must be kept secret.  This isn’t a “twist for the sake of twist” that plagues so many modern horror movies, but instead is a separate theme that slowly converges with the primary narrative.  Despite being so drastically contrasting to the main plot, the tone manages to remain equally tense, even with a few comic moments, the viewer is never taken off-edge. 

The pacing is perfect – from the first few scenes it is clear to the audience that something is not as it seems, and the puzzle is slowly pieced together for the viewer.  The reveals manage to be clear and easy to notice, without being ham-handed and forced.  Clever dialogue and some brilliant camera work give the audience only the information necessary, which ultimately results in an unforgettable “A-Ha!” moment that may never be duplicated in this medium.

"Um. What just happened?"
Even the classic horror elements of The Cabin in the Woods are done remarkably well.  Jump scares are prevalent, without being predictable or forced, and the blood and gore for which the genre is famous is present in force.  The finale in particular is pure fan service to horror aficionados, resulting in some of the most fun terror yet to be done in the genre.  The film’s greatest shortcoming is simply in that it ends and can never be repeated, despite the fact that it simply begs to be redone in different styles with a few choice edits to the narrative.  Now, with your curiosity piqued and with an eye for the details, go watch this unique piece of modern American horror.

-Patrick B. McDonald