Friday, August 19, 2016

It’s A Small World (of Horror!), or Thoughts on The Cabin in The Woods

Produced and Written by a post-Buffy, pre-Avengers Joss Whedon, The Cabin in The Woods (2012), starts out as self-referential horror movie, adds some sci-fi elements, and suddenly morphs into a Westworld (1973)-style funhouse of Lovecraftian proportions.  TV Director Drew Goddard from Buffy, Angel, Alias, and Lost, (basically every TV show you loved in the 90’s, and Lost), presents two stories; a pair of middle manager/engineer types in a secret underground government bunker and an RV full of college kids on their way to a weekend cabin in the woods.  The cabin (of course) is straight out of The Evil Dead, and the two stories intersect in a clever nexus; it seems the underground bunker fellas are controlling events and the surroundings like No. 6 in The Prisoner.
The Cabin in The Woods presents the standard horror movie archetypes: the virgin, the whore, the athlete, the scholar, and the fool, but those archetypes extend across the entire film.  From Gary and Steve, the senior and middle bro managers with their office betting pool, the backwoods redneck gas station attendant to the very monsters; zombies, vampires, scary ghost children, giant snakes and an updated merman from Creature From the Black Lagoon (1954).  There’s even a basement full of talismans, old movies, journals, haunted music boxes, a conch shell (it summons the merman) and (a nice touch) a Hellraiser-esque puzzle sphere.  The film becomes more ambitious as it unfolds, and does its best to present the ultimate horror movie starring literally every monster.
Richard Jenkins from Six Feet Under and over a 100 credits on IMDb and Bradley Whitford, who will always be Josh from The West Wing, play Gary and Steve, the two bureaucratic puppet-masters, along with a pre-Thor Chris Hemsworth as Curt, the Athlete (duh) and Dollhouse veteran Fran Kranz, who would go onto star in the indie vampire film Bloodsucking Bastards (2014) but made his big screen debut in 2001 in both Donnie Darko and Training Day, as Marty, the stoner best friend and Fool archetype. 
Jesse Williams as the Scholar, Kristen Connelly as Dana the Virgin and Anna Hutchinson as Jules the Whore complete the unlucky coeds in the cabin, along with a Sigourney Weaver cameo down below.  Also watch out for Buffy alum Tom Lenk and Amy Acker, who you may remember as Fred from Angel as two of the underground bunker office staff.
There’s something oddly reassuring about having one’s life and destiny controlled by a hidden and omniscient underground facility, it removes responsibility from your choices and allows a certain freedom or release.  But in that sense, The Cabin in The Woods is a metaphor for essentially every summer blockbuster and theme park; you have these huge, shiny franchises owned and operated by anonymous corporations, all for the purpose of entertaining you while making a profit.  The only difference is we don't end up sacrificed to the Old Ones, as far as we know.



my first novel?  thanks for asking:)  it’s a the first book in a 4-volume supernatural martial arts series chock full of killer kung-fu witches, haunted carnivals, punk rock assassins, and a 24-hour diner with the best pie in town…
read for free on kindle unlimited or buy the paperback, available at fine bookstores everywhere (amazon).