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The Cabin in the Woods (2012)
June 18, 2014 10:47 AM -

Five friends go for a break at a remote cabin in the woods, where they get more than they bargained for. Together, they must discover the truth behind the cabin in the woods.
posted by mathowie (198 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
 
On the remote chance that anyone is clicking on this because they are thinking about watching the movie, two things:

1. Watch the movie. It's well worth your time and attention.

2. Avoid at all costs all spoilers about the movie. This, like a few other films (Audition, Triangle) works best if you don't know anything about it. This includes the trailer, which completely &?%$ ruined one of the best things about the movie for me.

Stop reading this thread! Go watch the movie! Avoid all discussion and spoilers and trailers for the movie!
posted by Shepherd at 10:51 AM on June 18 [22 favorites]


Yeah. Spoilers abound. If you haven't seen it, stop reading here.

No, really. Stop.

For Dana, the end of the movie is basically a dramatization of that thought experiment about whether to throw the switch to kill one person so as to save a group of people. And I'm really not sure where I stand on that; sometimes I think (with a cool head, perhaps?) that it's best to throw the switch and at other times I shudder at the thought--which I recognize is an emotional response rather than a logical one.

In watching the movie, though, I tend to feel a resentful defiance even though I recognize that the options for Dana and Marty were 1) die (with or without killing someone first) and 2) die (and kill [possibly] everyone on the planet).

I don't believe, though, that defiance necessarily dooms everyone on the planet (even though Drew Goddard apparently disagrees with me). The very conceit of the movie implies to me that it's possible to appease the Ancient Ones again--how else did they figure out that ritual to keep them appeased? (Does anything ever work the first time you try it?)... I just can't imagine that the Ancient Ones explained the ritual to whoever started it; to borrow a metaphor from some other movie, that reminds me too much of someone leaning over an anthill explaining, very slowly and in small words, exactly what to do to avoid the boot.
posted by johnofjack at 10:56 AM on June 18 [2 favorites]


In preparation for this thread, I put in the Blu-ray last night and had a marvelous time. I then went to Facebook and said this, and only this:
Cabin in the Woods is such a great movie. I notice something new every time I watch it.
Pretty innocuous, right? But this morning, I woke up to find this confrontation between two friends of mine, both of whom I like and respect. I have no idea what trigger I pressed, or what happened, but here's what I saw. Anonymized for protection:
A: Why does everybody like this movie?

B: Because it's a great movie?

A: Is it a great movie?

B: Yes, dont you think so?

A: Should I? Wouldn't that require getting over the hackneyed storytelling, self-important parody, one-dimensional characters, and the narrative allowing a couple of childless hipster douchebags the privilege of deciding that humankind isn't worth saving?

B: Boy, you were just waiting for the opportunity to drop your self-righteous opinion, weren't you? You just described the point of the movie, one that you obviously missed, is that the hackneyed storytelling, one-dimensional characters, and narrative that allows childless hipster douchebags to BE hipster douchebags IS A FRIKKING PARODY. Looking PAST that is the POINT. Since you can't look past it, then, no, this movie isn't for you. But you clearly already made that decision for yourself three questions ago. Forgive me for thinking you were asking honestly and not trying to dupe me into your web of internet trolling. I'll be over here with the majority of folk who, yes, think it's a great movie...mainly because we can appreciate storytelling for what it is, and not for what I want it to be.

Geezus.

A: We are not in any way, shape, or form going to get into a flamewar on [Faint of Butt]'s Facebook. That's just not cool. It's a movie. You like it, I don't. Nothing personal, no major failings in intelligence or personality reflected in what we hold as opinions. Of course it's a parody, but that doesn't mean that I (or anyone else in the minority) has to confer on it some manner of status that renders it immune to criticism. My opinion isn't any more self-righteous than anyone else's, it's just an opinion. So yeah, let's just end this discussion here before it gets any more ridiculous. I wouldn't want you to trip over my web of internet trolling.
Seriously, what the hell? Who knew this was so polarizing? I considered deleting the whole comment thread, but instead I decided to write this. Let this mini-essay stand as my formal opinion and interpretation of The Cabin in the Woods.
The message of Cabin is a nihilist one, yes, but it has nothing to do with the world in which we live, because it doesn't take place here. It takes place in the world of horror cinema. You may have noticed that here, in the real world, there are no such things as Zombie Redneck Torture Families, or Dismemberment Goblins, or Angry Molesting Trees. The horrors we face are much more subtle, and much harder to vanquish.

The world of horror cinema is a world of limitless imagination and potential, as demonstrated by the thousands of fantastic creatures we see in the Facility's "zoo," and a mere fraction of which we witness in action during the purge. And yet, what do we do with these infinite possibilities, these opportunities to plumb the deepest recesses of our beliefs and fears? We squander them and reduce them to reliable formulas, following the same script over and over again to appease a simple-minded audience. The Buckners are boring; that's why they're the favorite pick of Maintenance, and yet this family of generic undead cultists has a 100% success rate. The monsters become almost as predictable and interchangeable as their victims. Why do we waste our time treading the same ground when there's so much more to explore? That's the question Cabin seeks to answer, and the only solution it can find is to tear the world of horror cinema (more specifically, American horror cinema) down to its very foundations and let a new paradigm arise on the ruins of the old.

Cabin is both a love letter and a call to action born out of frustration. Goddard and Whedon adore the familiar tropes (the Harbinger! the Virgin/Final Girl! the gratuitous exhibitionism of the Whore!) but at the same time they recognize that we can do better, and we must. The Cabin in the Woods is the Last Horror Movie, bidding a fond farewell to the clichés by naming them one by one and allowing them each a moment in the spotlight before ushering them off. In the end, they step aside and leave us with a tabula rasa on which we are free to build literally anything.

Dana and Marty make the right decision. Their world deserves to end, because its potential has been wasted, and shame on us for allowing it to fall into such disrepair. Their world is not our world.

Let's get this party started.
posted by Faint of Butt at 11:00 AM on June 18 [38 favorites]


Man, there's so much in this movie, I don't really know where to start.

A couple of questions that griphus and I were chewing on back when we did our podcast episode about it that are still interesting to me:

- Do horror films exist in this universe? What's the nature of the pop culture understanding of horror media in a context where actual looming ancient forces routinely threaten existence? How well-kept, exactly, is the secret of the ancient ones?

- Is this actually a normal, functioning society and world economy with this dark secret in the shadows, or have things actually gotten really, really bad in the world but everybody's trying to keep a stiff upper lip while continuing to appease the gods?
posted by cortex at 11:03 AM on June 18 [5 favorites]


Am I the only one who was a little let down by the whole "no spoiler" attitude to the film? Cause I went in expecting twists and turns and what I got was a relatively straightforward film. The conceit, while clever and interesting, is basically laid out fairly early on in the film, even if the exact specifics aren't given.

That said, I think this is great. Obviously its a huge metaphor, but a very funny one at that. The last third of this film is very joyful, even if its completely nonsensical. I'm also a big fan of that ending. Sure, one life is worth the whole world, especially when its your friend.
posted by Cannon Fodder at 11:14 AM on June 18 [3 favorites]


Read all the spoilers, watched the movie. Spoilers had no effect on my enjoyment.
posted by blue_beetle at 11:33 AM on June 18 [4 favorites]


I went in expecting twists and turns and what I got was a relatively straightforward film. The conceit, while clever and interesting, is basically laid out fairly early on in the film, even if the exact specifics aren't given.

That there's much more going on than "kids go to a cabin to party and something scary happens" is clear from the beginning, but the purpose of it all is parsed out little by little, and getting to that point without knowing is part of the fun. I think the strict "no spoiler" thing was started by the ad campaign, that let you know that this there would be a cabin in the woods, something scary was involved, but not all was what it seemed, and that's it.

When I went in the first time, the only real spoiler i had was knowing that Richard Jenkins and Bradley Whitford played some kind of office drones...Which, a) their stature as actors told me that these weren't just some one-scene nobody characters, which b) didn't seem like an element that would fit in a typical cliche "cabin in the woods" horror scenario. That's what makes the opening scene so great, it's all about an inane conversation between two schmos who seem to work at some NORAD-type facility, then BANG -- LOUD horror-movie music sting -- freezeframe: "THE CABIN THE WOODS"...That's a killer hook if you don't really know the premise yet. And I had no clue that there was Cthulhu/Old Gods stuff behind it all, which was very satisfying to have revealed through the course of the movie.

Having said all that, it was almost as fun to watch the second time, so I agree that spoilers shouldn't be detrimental to anyone's enjoyment of it. I think someone mentioned this in MeTa when this post was being planned, but spoiling it for someone who isn't a horror movie fan might actually help you convince them to give it a chance.
posted by doctornecessiter at 11:40 AM on June 18 [4 favorites]


Am I the only one who was a little let down by the whole "no spoiler" attitude to the film? Cause I went in expecting twists and turns and what I got was a relatively straightforward film. The conceit, while clever and interesting, is basically laid out fairly early on in the film, even if the exact specifics aren't given.

There aren't massive twists or anything, but there's a singular joy in watching the movie and experiencing the whole thing for the first time. It's an experience of discovery.

It's less an attitude of "no spoilers" and more that the movie is better if you know as little as possible going into it, so you can have that experience of getting everything the movie has to offer in the way it wants to offer it.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 11:41 AM on June 18 [5 favorites]


I'm looking forward to rewatching it tonight, especially so I can double-check the theory I had (that nobody else I talked to seemed to agree with) that Marty is the virgin and Dana is the fool. Dana has obviously had sex, and she makes a throwaway comment near the end about "What were we thinking, I knew that Curt didn't have a cousin who owned a cabin" or something like that.
posted by jbickers at 11:54 AM on June 18 [14 favorites]


That theory doesn't really fly for me, jbickers. The Director knows that Dana isn't literally a virgin, and she just shrugs it off. It's more important that the victims play the roles than that they embody them. Also note that Curt's alpha-male posturing, Holden's nerdery and Jules' (for want of a better word) sluttiness are explicitly called out as being out of character. The Facility goes to sacrifice with the victims they have, not the victims they might want or wish to have at a later time.
posted by Faint of Butt at 12:02 PM on June 18 [6 favorites]


jbickers, Faint of Butt: that is an interesting theory. When one of the levers for the blood is pulled, the Ancient Ones get riled up--wasn't it the Fool's blood, and the Fool's section that cracks? If that's so, the theory would open up the possibility that Dana and Marty didn't cause the end of the world, but the cavalier attitude of the people conducting the ritual.
posted by johnofjack at 12:04 PM on June 18 [3 favorites]


I'm rewatching now and just came to my least favorite part -- the tunnel / motorcycle jump.

First off, the tunnel could easily have killed them, and there wasn't even a handwave to "Don't blow the near half! We need them to survive a little longer, remember!"

But most of all, the invisible wall, in narrative terms -- and that's what's supposed to be important here -- is bullshit. It's one thing to present the sacrifices with an impossible jump that hubris and desperation force them to try, but the invisible wall is the equivalent of shooting him down with a missile. At that point, you might as well just send in a damn SWAT team to butcher the two remaining sacrifices.
(Also, I feel like physics wouldn't keep him pinwheeling into the wall over and over again, but I will happily defer to people with a greater knowledge of such things.)
posted by Etrigan at 12:06 PM on June 18 [2 favorites]


This is a fun movie and all, but it's not a horror film and I generally found its ostensible critique of horror films too smug and way out of date. It actually has very little in common with the movie its set-up most closely resembles, The Evil Dead, and even if it has something to say about garden-variety slasher movies, I'm not sure why it gets so much credit for deconstructing genre tropes that haven't been much in evidence since the 1980s. Hasn't it been decades since horror movies routinely and unironically indulged in tropes like "the Harbinger, the Virgin/Final Girl, and the gratuitous exhibitionism of the Whore?" And was it necessary for someone to make a contemporary takedown of those tropes? What am I missing?
posted by Mothlight at 12:11 PM on June 18 [3 favorites]


But most of all, the invisible wall, in narrative terms -- and that's what's supposed to be important here -- is bullshit.

Of course. It's more a GRRM narrative at that point.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 12:14 PM on June 18


I love that Marty is the fool in a very Shakespearean sense - his ramblings in the beginning of the film give away the entire plot - but it's really only clear in retrospect.
posted by flaterik at 12:22 PM on June 18 [19 favorites]


I watched the movie for the first time on Monday, thinking I already knew the big twist because I had been spoiled on the fact that there was some sort of Central Command coordinating the horror scenario -- and was instantly surprised when that was literally the first thing we see in the movie. It was a lot of fun watching them explore that premise, especially when I'd been expecting it to be held out as a third-act swerve. (Needless to say, the actual third-act swerve caught me pretty much off guard, although in retrospect how else could it have gone?)

What follows is a disconnected series of reflections on a first viewing, from somebody who doesn't watch many horror movies:

So they meant to put an additive in Marty's pot that would make him a stereotypical stoner idiot, but used the wrong stuff? Or he just had the inverse reaction to it? Either way, it seemed to make him pathologically resistant to suggestion, which plays nicely into him going full speed into the “burn it all down” choice in the third act.

(If it's the former, that means Chems screwed this one up too. Nicely foreshadowed, guys! Sucks to be Amy Acker. If the latter, that reminds me of Serenity...)

I'm not a huge fan of the ending because it seems like it defeats the metaphor a bit to say that yes, these ancient gods are definitely real and the ritual definitely was stopping them from erupting through the crust of the Earth and laying waste to all who live on its surface. I realize that thematic subtlety is not a thing this movie was aiming for, but it kind of breaks the metaphor down.

Speaking of which, thematic subtlety. In general, this movie does not have it. As I watched I continually waffled back and forth between wishing it hadn't hit you quite so hard over the head with “THIS IS A MOVIE ABOUT THE SLASHER MOVIE GENRE” and accepting that “subtle” is not a quality often associated with that genre, so there might not be any other way to do what they were trying to.

In any case, the blatancy did let them do some hilarious things with genre conventions. I spent so long laughing at the “Let's Split Up” gas that I almost had to pause the movie.

Finally, if I were Drew Goddard (and/or Joss Whedon) and had an infinite budget for this movie, I would absolutely have done it Clue-style. Every time you see it they pick a different monster, and the kill/chase scenes are all different as a result. The fact that the script would be completely identical in any scene where the monsters aren't physically on screen is a feature, not a bug.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 12:22 PM on June 18 [8 favorites]


Ah, wait, never mind: the Ancient Ones probably got riled up because the fool (regardless of whether it's Dana or Marty) wasn't dead.

I'm going to stop posting for awhile now; three comments in a thread this short feels a bit like threadsitting.
posted by johnofjack at 12:25 PM on June 18 [2 favorites]


Hasn't it been decades since horror movies routinely and unironically indulged in tropes like "the Harbinger, the Virgin/Final Girl, and the gratuitous exhibitionism of the Whore?"

Nah, that shit's alive and well, it's just on direct-to-DVD these days.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 12:41 PM on June 18 [2 favorites]


There's a fair amount of it on SyFy, too.
posted by Etrigan at 12:46 PM on June 18 [1 favorite]


Did anyone else see the 2013 Evil Dead remake? After watching Cabin, I had absolutely no trouble identifying the Virgin, Whore, Athlete, Scholar and Fool. They were all right there, plain as day; the script couldn't have been more formulaic if it had tried.
posted by Faint of Butt at 12:55 PM on June 18 [3 favorites]


So they meant to put an additive in Marty's pot that would make him a stereotypical stoner idiot, but used the wrong stuff?

And by the way, this was addressed in the supplemental materials. Apparently Chem did screw up; they laced his stash and his secret stash, but missed his secret secret stash, which not even his secret stash knows about.
posted by Faint of Butt at 12:57 PM on June 18 [9 favorites]


And was it necessary for someone to make a contemporary takedown of those tropes? What am I missing?

My feeling is, the film is not a takedown, it's a love letter. I mean, Goddard and Whedon are very clearly criticizing a lot of the goofy/lazy writing that defines a lot of slasher horror, but I think overall the film is much more about recognizing and celebrating the cultural legacy of (particularly 80s) horror cinema than it is about some notional Speaking Truth To Power attack on that.

I really like the film not because it's telling me something shocking and new as a horror fan, but because it is showing so much affection and attention to the genre's substrata, affection and attention I share.

It's not a necessary film. It's a fun, funny, feels-like-coming-home film.
posted by cortex at 1:30 PM on June 18 [19 favorites]


I'm just going to talk about what gives me pleasure in the film, and not discuss its themes:

1. The fact that they put the Harbinger on speakerphone, and are tickled that it irks him
2. Chris Hemsworth screaming "Don't hurt the gorgeous man!" or whatever when he jumps in the lake
3. Marty calling the wolf a moose
4. The American primitivism of that creepy painting in the cabin. It's museum-worthy.
5. Obviously, the Japanese version that we see on the monitor, which I sort of wish had been this movie
6. The fact that the film is an indictment of the audience, essentially making the case that the characters die because we want them to die, and the filmmakers need them to die. We're the motherfucking elder gods, demanding sacrifice, and the facility employees are the filmmakers, creating narratives to fulfill our capricious yet weirdly culturally specific demands. And unless we are satisfied, the world of the film cannot continue, because we will not support it. THE HAND AT THE END OF THE FILM IS US. WE ARE THE HAND THAT MUST BE SATISFIED.

Whoops. A theme might have slipped in at the end there.
posted by maxsparber at 1:32 PM on June 18 [39 favorites]


5. Obviously, the Japanese version that we see on the monitor, which I sort of wish had been this movie

Okay, they also talked about Sweden and showed a volcano, and they also showed Rangoon, Berlin, Madrid, and Buenos Aires. Is there a rundown anywhere of what the tropes might be in those areas?
posted by Etrigan at 1:40 PM on June 18


Did anyone else see the 2013 Evil Dead remake?...the script couldn't have been more formulaic if it had tried.

Yes, and even as a fan of the original series I loved it for what it was. Yeah, you could identify those tropes and cliches but it is a remake of a fairly classic 80s horror movie that was itself pretty formulaic so I'm not sure that wasn't intentional. I was just impressed Alvarez managed to make it scary. I'd be less interested in a remake of Evil Dead 2 or 3, but the original tried earnestly to be scary and I think failed for the most part. It's famous because it was a valiant effort on a tiny budget. This just showed to me that with the resources, it could have been proper scary despite the cliches and pretty ridiculous premise.

My feeling is, the film is not a takedown, it's a love letter

Very much so. I am really hoping we can play "spot the reference" in this thread at the end, because there was so much in the cellar and later in the facility that brought a smile to my face.


Now my tiny gripe with this movie: I hated, hated, hated the electro-forcefield thingy that encased the whole location. That felt like a bit too much even in the context of this movie. It felt lazy, and I think that a guy like Whedon could come up with something more creative and clever than "giant magic forcefield"
posted by Hoopo at 1:57 PM on June 18


I'm just going to talk about what gives me pleasure in the film

"Ok, I'm drawing a line in the fucking sand here. Do not read the Latin!"
posted by Ian A.T. at 2:02 PM on June 18 [18 favorites]


Now my tiny gripe with this movie: I hated, hated, hated the electro-forcefield thingy that encased the whole location. That felt like a bit too much even in the context of this movie. It felt lazy, and I think that a guy like Whedon could come up with something more creative and clever than "giant magic forcefield"

That was one of the cases where the metaphor rose up and caught the plot in a bear trap. If I can switching to gaming terms, yes, it's the physical manifestation of a "railroad plot," and that's a good thing to have in your critique of cliched storytelling, but you'd think it would only crop up when the group tries to do something legitimately sequence-breaking, like if they built a rudimentary hang-glider. "Corporate" put the slope there, they knew Curt brought a bike - that jump shouldn't have been outside the bounds of the narrative.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 2:08 PM on June 18


5. Obviously, the Japanese version that we see on the monitor, which I sort of wish had been this movie

Dude shhhhhhh you're going to get us another shitty western version of a Japanese horror movie
posted by Hoopo at 2:08 PM on June 18


In my dream "Clue version" of Cabin one audience in 500 gets 90 minutes of Japanese Schoolgirls vs. Cut-Rate Sadako. No subtitles.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 2:10 PM on June 18 [3 favorites]


In my dream "Clue version" of Cabin one audience in 500 gets 90 minutes of Japanese Schoolgirls vs. Cut-Rate Sadako. No subtitles.

And then, without warning or explanation, an Elder God erupts from beneath Mount Fuji and slaughters everyone.
posted by Faint of Butt at 2:15 PM on June 18 [4 favorites]


I watched it, completely spoiled though.

It would have been way more fun had the five been an athlete, a basket case, a princess, a brain, and a criminal.
posted by mochapickle at 2:24 PM on June 18 [16 favorites]


Before I saw it, back when I had only seen the trailers, I was so positive it would be something approximating The Cube.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 2:30 PM on June 18


How amazingly refreshing, for once, to finish a horror film knowing without a doubt that there will never be a sequel!
posted by DirtyOldTown at 2:35 PM on June 18 [1 favorite]


Also: FUCK YEAH, MEFI HORROR CLUB! FUCK YEAH!
posted by DirtyOldTown at 2:38 PM on June 18 [1 favorite]


Random thoughts:

- Man, every time I watch Jules make out with that wolf head it gets grosser. Come on Jules, don't lick dead things please, kthx. If I were Curt, I'd be like, look, I seriously hope you packed some Listerine if you plan on kissing me again this weekend.

- Is that a bear trap on a chain? How does that even work?

- There should be an Oscar for "Most Nihilistic Use of an REO Speedwagon Song".

- Great to see Grady's daughters getting some work, they kind of dropped off the radar after The Shining.

- Not sure if there are any gamers among us, but I thought I caught references to Resident Evil 4, F.E.A.R., and maybe one or two others...?

>I was so positive it would be something approximating The Cube.

The actual mechanics of the place reminded me a lot of Cube. I'm thinking of the scene at 1:12 specifically, the pan out after Dana's "they made us choose how we die" fit.

>(Also, I feel like physics wouldn't keep him pinwheeling into the wall over and over again, but I will happily defer to people with a greater knowledge of such things.)

Yeah, I kind of winced at that. I'm choosing to believe it's a narrow crevasse and Curt is bouncing back and forth between the force field and the cliff wall.
posted by Two unicycles and some duct tape at 2:44 PM on June 18 [3 favorites]


The only way the bouncing works is if they're actually inside a giant force sphere, which, hell, why not. If suspension of disbelief is an issue for you at that point I'm not sure what to say.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 2:46 PM on June 18


- Is that a bear trap on a chain? How does that even work?

It works fucking awesomely is how it works.

Oh, and hey, speaking of Cube -- does anyone have an opinion on Cube Zero? I've literally had it on my shelves for a decade through at least four moves but have never summoned up the courage to watch it for fear of it sucking even harder than Hypercube did.
posted by Etrigan at 2:47 PM on June 18 [1 favorite]


Cube Zero is better than Hypercube. It could still reasonably be dismissed as more of the same/a remake of the first film. But it's got its moments. And it has one particular plot wrinkle that is kind of a fantastic payoff. It definitely still has the B-movie vibe of the second Cube film rather than the twisted indie vibe of the original, though.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 2:48 PM on June 18 [2 favorites]


The force shield, due to a quirk of engineering, emits a moderate gravitational pull. Nearby objects in freefall will be drawn towards the shield, and if they're not instantly vaporized (as happens to anything approximately bird-sized or smaller) will bounce off, only to be drawn back towards the shield as they continue to fall.

I just made that up.
posted by Faint of Butt at 2:51 PM on June 18 [7 favorites]


Faint of Butt gets the first MeFiHorror No Prize.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 2:53 PM on June 18 [5 favorites]


Let's say you were putting together a DVD shelf of films that skewer/dismantle/dissect horro genre cliches. What goes on that shelf?

-The Cabin in the Woods
-Scream
-Tucker & Dale Vs. Evil
-Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon

What else? This is practically its own subgenre at this point. there must be others.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 2:54 PM on June 18 [6 favorites]


>moderate gravitational pull

Sure, that works for me. I'm still trying to figure out how we saw a merman spray blood through what looks like a blowhole, which was visually interesting but kind of problematic from a functional respiratory perspective.

Also: I love how every time I watch this film I notice some other little quirk. Just pulled it up again to check something and I noticed Ronald the intern holding up a "I'm Ronald the intern" sign on one of the security monitors. (His next sign was something like "Sub level six, please send help".)
posted by Two unicycles and some duct tape at 2:58 PM on June 18 [2 favorites]


The only way the bouncing works is if they're actually inside a giant force sphere, which, hell, why not. If suspension of disbelief is an issue for you at that point I'm not sure what to say.

I think the shape of the "cells" or whatever implied it was round, so a sphere is likely. The bouncing wasn't the issue for me, it was just the sphere itself I guess. I mean, suspension of disbelief is one thing, but this was a horror world and force fields are scif-fi. Like, that's so totally fake!
posted by Hoopo at 2:58 PM on June 18 [1 favorite]


Dittoes on the speaker phone and REO Speedwagon love.

The only problem I had with the movie was I couldn't shake that everything was for the Senior Partners and these were employees of Wolfram and Hart. It was a little too on the nose to not just go for it. I was practically begging the movie to make that the last final twist.
posted by double bubble at 3:00 PM on June 18 [2 favorites]


Maybe that wasn't a blowhole, but how he expels, uh, "waste."
posted by Hoopo at 3:02 PM on June 18 [1 favorite]


I do wish--this being a convention-skewering movie and all--that maybe the black guy could have lived a bit longer, or at the very least the notion that the black guy always dies early could have been mentioned and mocked.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 3:03 PM on June 18 [6 favorites]


What else? This is practically its own subgenre at this point. there must be others.

Wes Craven's New Nightmare (which IIRC paved the way for Scream)
posted by jbickers at 3:05 PM on June 18 [5 favorites]


I keep coming back to cortex's question about whether horror movies exist in this universe.

My gut feeling would be yes, if for no other reason than Marty's skepticism about splitting up, reading the Latin, etc., which were not specified as being informed by having seen a bunch of horror movies, but may as well have been.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 3:07 PM on June 18 [2 favorites]


jbickers, DirtyOldTown: would something like American Psycho fit into that category, do you think?

Seconding that Marty's behavior in particular makes more sense in a universe where horror movies exist. Where that puts this society, or what it says about the rest of cortex's questions, I'm not sure.
posted by Two unicycles and some duct tape at 3:17 PM on June 18


would something like American Psycho fit into that category, do you think?

People have Opinions on this one, but I thought American Psycho didn't so much take apart horror genre cliches as it did Wall Street finance.
posted by Hoopo at 3:28 PM on June 18 [3 favorites]


What else? This is practically its own subgenre at this point. there must be others

Targets.
posted by maxsparber at 3:48 PM on June 18 [2 favorites]


I don't know...I just think it would have been cooler with a Merman. :-(
posted by ssmith at 3:49 PM on June 18 [4 favorites]


I am a fan of horror movies, and of slasher pics. This movie was like an ice cream sunday covered in halloween candy served on top of a severed head with exposed grey matter and still-moving eyes, all in a pool of corn syrup dyed red. Blood red.

I was obsessed with identifying all of the horror homages after I watched the movie.

I can't wait until Whedon's Avengers 3 does the exact same thing to superhero tropes (so he can pay due homage to Alan Moore, Moore, Moore.)
posted by 90s_username04 at 3:51 PM on June 18


I love that Sigourney Weaver has developed a niche lately of "hardassed boss woman who shows up in the final reel and dies."

Relatedly, this movie has better elevator humor than "Aliens", which was the previous best monster-related elevator humor.
posted by rmd1023 at 4:32 PM on June 18 [2 favorites]


I think the fabulousness and delicious hilarious irony of American Psycho the movie was all due to Mary Carron, who adapted and directed the film.
posted by rmd1023 at 4:38 PM on June 18 [1 favorite]


Oh, and as for Wes Craven's New Nightmare, I loved it but was disappointed because I figured at the end it would turn out they were reading the script for the movie they'd been in.

But god, so deliciously meta. The meta-ness had meta going on.
posted by rmd1023 at 4:39 PM on June 18


Re: Sigourney Weaver, it's always great to see her on screen, and I know Goddard and Whedon really wanted her for the role (and she was enthusiastic about it, too, which is always nice), but I don't really associate her with horror. Alien is horror/science fiction, but the sequels abandon a lot of the horror in favor of action. Ghostbusters is comedy before horror. I would have preferred a cameo from someone with closer ties to the genre, and maybe even to slasher films in particular.

Jamie Lee Curtis, anyone?
posted by Faint of Butt at 4:51 PM on June 18 [3 favorites]


I enjoy the meta-fictional aspects of this film. The invisible force-field always struck me as being similar to a large movie screen. Considering that, I've always watched the scene play out as if the character literally, but unknowingly, tries to break through the fourth wall.
posted by P.o.B. at 5:02 PM on June 18 [33 favorites]


Wow great take pob
posted by Hoopo at 5:14 PM on June 18


If I'd written New Nightmare, I'd have had Robert Englund save the day. Having him be diffident/hard-to-read was not that interesting a use for him.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 5:41 PM on June 18 [3 favorites]


Jamie Lee Curtis, anyone?

Lady Haden-Guest is on-and-off retired from acting these days. It's possible she was "off" when they inquired.
posted by Etrigan at 5:49 PM on June 18


She still has time for commercials for yogurt that helps you poop. Seems like she could have done a few days work on this if she wanted.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 6:27 PM on June 18 [3 favorites]


There is a Cabin in the Woods wiki that has all kinds of details, like all the monsters show during the system purge, and more.

They list a few details about the scenarios shown in other countries:
* "The clip of the Stockholm branch is in fact the ending clip from the 1997 movie, Dante's Peak."
* "The clip of the Rangoon branch is footage from Roland Emmerich's Godzilla."

I saw a forum thread some time ago with a lot of great guesses about the other countries scenarios, but I can't find it again. Someone said the Argentina scenario looked similar to Monsters, which I haven't seen yet.
posted by isthmus at 6:29 PM on June 18 [4 favorites]


Nevermind that last part, Argentina had The Giant Ape.
posted by isthmus at 6:32 PM on June 18


What else? This is practically its own subgenre at this point. there must be others.

An early and fairly obscure one: 1991's There's Nothing Out There. It's kind of amateur-hour technically, but hits the satire notes pretty well. Definitely worth a look.
posted by doctornecessiter at 6:40 PM on June 18


Fun, brief bonus feature from Lionsgate, "Populating with Monsters."
posted by DirtyOldTown at 6:43 PM on June 18


Love love love this movie. Just wanted to say they wrote the script in three days!
posted by SarahElizaP at 7:37 PM on June 18 [1 favorite]


Forgive me if I missed this elsewhere, but where did all the monsters come from? Every facility has a different collection of them. Were they created by the facilities? Captured from the time of the old gods? Something else?
posted by mochapickle at 7:49 PM on June 18



Now my tiny gripe with this movie: I hated, hated, hated the electro-forcefield thingy that encased the whole location. That felt like a bit too much even in the context of this movie. It felt lazy, and I think that a guy like Whedon could come up with something more creative and clever than "giant magic forcefield"


I think that was also the one thing in the film that looked REALLY bad. Like really terribly cheesy awful, so much so that it stuck out in a film that is dripping with (delicious!) cheese.


I recall when we went to see this, I knew literally absolutely not a single goddamn thing about it beyond the title, but it was playing at The Riverview so eh why not. And it was such great fun to see it that way, especially since I was so pleasantly surprised by its quality. It's satirical, but as has been noted above, in a light and loving way - it's a romp at heart.

And the sideways elevators and System Purge, despite the gore, had this spirit of relentless joy, just like "OK now EVERY MONSTER!" I am pretty sure I was laughing and clapping and jumping up and down.
posted by louche mustachio at 7:57 PM on June 18 [5 favorites]


What makes me love this movie is not the overall plot/satire so much as brilliant throwaway details like the whiteboard and one-liners like “Bathe them in the crimson of... am I on speaker phone?” So many great little touches.

“How hard is it to kill nine-year-olds?”
posted by mbrubeck at 8:11 PM on June 18 [8 favorites]


Forgive me if I missed this elsewhere, but where did all the monsters come from? Every facility has a different collection of them. Were they created by the facilities? Captured from the time of the old gods? Something else?

I imagine that they're all sort of "wild magic," and the Organization snaps them up for use in the ritual and to keep them out of the wider world.
posted by Etrigan at 8:12 PM on June 18


I'm willing to accept the forcefield, but if that's there, I don't understand why they were so worried about the fact that the tunnel hadn't collapsed. If they could have legitimately made it out of the tunnel, then Athlete should have been able to jump the canyon under the same rules. And if they knew the forcefield would stop them, then the tunnel collapsing or not shouldn't have mattered.

Also, every time I watch this, I pause to read all the things off the whiteboard. I really love the detailed weirdness of it (witches vs. sexy witches, for instance).
posted by Margalo Epps at 8:23 PM on June 18


I'm willing to accept the forcefield, but if that's there, I don't understand why they were so worried about the fact that the tunnel hadn't collapsed. If they could have legitimately made it out of the tunnel, then Athlete should have been able to jump the canyon under the same rules. And if they knew the forcefield would stop them, then the tunnel collapsing or not shouldn't have mattered.

They weren't supposed to be able to make it out of the tunnel. It should have been collapsed long before they got into the RV, but the Fool was already screwing with the system.
posted by Etrigan at 8:33 PM on June 18 [1 favorite]


As a person who was so obsessed with monsters as a kid that I took all the monster pics I had drawn and compiled them into a large collection which I titled Book of Monsters, I was also delighted by all the monsters at the end.
posted by triggerfinger at 8:39 PM on June 18 [2 favorites]


Not sure if there are any gamers among us, but I thought I caught references to Resident Evil 4, F.E.A.R., and maybe one or two others...?

Yea, there are several Left 4 Dead references too. The Boomer is most prominent, but several others (witch, tank, charger) are there too. Apparently there was supposed to be a Cabin in the Woods DLC for L4D, but that didn't ultimately happen. (Too bad, that could have been awesome!)
posted by gemmy at 9:14 PM on June 18 [2 favorites]


where did all the monsters come from?

mochapickle, there's a scene about 33m in that answers this, albeit vaguely.
security guy, looking at redneck zombies on a monitor: "They're like something from a nightmare."

Doc Saunders: "No, they're something nightmares are *from*. Everything in our stable is a remnant of the Old World, courtesy of... [points downward] you know who."
posted by Two unicycles and some duct tape at 9:15 PM on June 18 [5 favorites]


They weren't supposed to be able to make it out of the tunnel.

That's my point -- either there was a dome forcefield all around which prevents any passage through (in which case who cares whether the tunnel is collapsed) or there isn't -- in which case jumping the canyon should at least be possible.
posted by Margalo Epps at 9:15 PM on June 18


I kind of saw it like the dome from The Hunger Games. It kept the scenario and dangers within contained from the world at large. It even looked the same.

The invisible forcefield in the tunnel would be problematic if the RV crashed into it and killed people in the wrong order.
posted by mochapickle at 9:23 PM on June 18 [1 favorite]


(This is turning into one of those movies that feels even smarter the more I try to poke holes in it.)
posted by mochapickle at 9:24 PM on June 18 [1 favorite]


I am terrified of horror movies so never watch them, but decided to give this the old MeFi try in order to join the movie club. Oddly, I felt like it wasn't scary at all. There were only maybe 2-3 moments that held any sort of suspense in the entire film, and most of them were clearly going to end up being a cat or something so did little to get my heart rate up. Because of that, the Cabin in the Woods only ranks a 3.3 out of 10 on Metafilter User Literaryhero's Proprietary Scale of the Exact Amount of Pants-shitting Horror (MULPSEAPH for short), which ranks it between a bad haircut and a visit from inlaws you mildly dislike in terms of things people fear.

That being said, it was a great movie, and I am a huge proponent of bear traps of every kind, especially when they are on chains. Telescoping bongs in travel mugs are also something I wish we would see more of.

I feel like when watching the movie that I wasn't sure if the elder god actually existed, so it was hard to decide who the good guys and who the bad guys were. Because of that, I kind of had a hard time empathizing with any of the characters which also made it seem less scary.
posted by Literaryhero at 9:49 PM on June 18 [3 favorites]


Has anyone else seen the behind the scenes doc, We Are Not Who We Are: Making The Cabin in the Woods? It's full of gems from Joss Whedon like this one:
I think of it as being connected to Buffy because they're both examinations of the same question: why do these bad things keep happening to blond girls?
posted by DirtyOldTown at 9:56 PM on June 18 [4 favorites]


Glad you tried it and had fun with it, Literaryhero.

That's one of the things I like about this movie -- even with all the homages and in-jokes aimed at fans of horror movies, it's surprisingly approachable for people who don't usually watch this kind of thing. I took a group of friends to see this in San Francisco, most of whom were geeks but none of whom were really into horror movies, and I'm pretty sure everybody had a great time. I'm guessing a lot of this has to do with Whedon's quirky sense of humor; you're never sure whether to take the movie entirely seriously because it doesn't seem to take itself entirely seriously.
posted by Two unicycles and some duct tape at 10:02 PM on June 18 [1 favorite]


I'll say something in defense of the forcefield: it was a perfect bit of obvious-but-probably-forgotten repeated-gag foreshadowing on first watch.

We get that great tracking shot of the RV headed along the canyon road and the bird flying through the air, and it's all seeming like some sort of just generically menacing tracking shot with a flourish, a little riff on the opening of The Shining maybe, yes yes we've seen this sort of thing bef—OH SHIT THE BIRD EXPLODED. Forcefield established as a thing.

And then a bunch of nutty shit happens that has nothing to do with the forcefield. Enough that it's easy for the viewer to forget all about the forcefield, and so even as Thor's getting ready to Bart Simpson the canyon it's probably still not what you have in mind. More likely you're thinking about the obvious heroic swell, maybe getting a little caught up in it, maybe actively trying to figure out what game the movie is playing here since obviously he can't get away with it, right? Or can he? But that'd be so obvious, something must be wrong, but oh jeez I wonder what's gonna happ—OH SHIT THE THOR EXPLODED.

I'm sure there are folks who put two and two together before the impact, but I'm guessing most viewers were too caught up in the preceding frenetic spectacle and the suspicious goofy heroic swell to get all structural on shit there. And then felt silly for forgetting as soon as it did happen, because it's a nice, precise, We Warned You callback.

or there isn't -- in which case jumping the canyon should at least be possible.

I think there's a fair argument to be made that the tunnel is the intended single door; jumping the canyon isn't possible because the tunnel is the only hole they've got. (Or at least the only hole plausible accessible to the sacrifices.)
posted by cortex at 10:13 PM on June 18 [10 favorites]


"spoiling it for someone who isn't a horror movie fan might actually help you convince them to give it a chance."

I normally do not like horror movies*. I normally love me some Whedon. I was totally conflicted about it back in the movie theater days and finally went and read all of the spoilers to see whether or not I could stand to watch it. The spoilers convinced me to see it and I do not consider that a ruining experience--if I'd "gone in blind" I probably wouldn't have gone in at all. I did helpfully squint so as to not see certain parts in great gory detail/avoid the potential hurling I nearly did during Scary Movie 2, and that worked.

* which I define as "movies in which a bunch of assholes get killed in gruesome ways and I try not to hurl onto the floor of the theater."


On a related note, a few weeks ago the StoryWonk podcast covered this movie. Which was controversial because Lani REALLY hates horror movies and loves Whedon. Her verdict was that it was a great movie but she still hates horror, but there was more to it than that.
posted by jenfullmoon at 10:30 PM on June 18 [1 favorite]


The forcefield scene also allows us to check the "let's split up, I'll go for help (and die stupidly)" trope off of our bingo cards.
posted by P.o.B. at 12:38 AM on June 19 [2 favorites]


What goes on that shelf?

Resolution is kind of a low budget indie version of Cabin in the Woods.
posted by Justinian at 1:41 AM on June 19 [2 favorites]


Also, I might be a sociopath because I would have pulled the trigger.
posted by Justinian at 1:43 AM on June 19 [2 favorites]


I agree with Cortex about the forcefield. I had actually completely forgotten about it and then it was like Gotcha! Also, the multiple bounces off the field was, I think, a hat tip to Mola Ram's death in Temple of Doom. He bounces off the cliff multiple times before being eaten by crocodiles.
posted by Literaryhero at 4:48 AM on June 19 [1 favorite]


I didn't mind the forcefield. I remember it, which let me have a sick chuckle at the movie style build up to something doomed to fail. It is a weirdly sci-fi element, but thats almost the point, as as mystical as the critters look, they are held in place by "science".

One thing I had forgotten about my first watch of this was that I remember being fairly tense until we get to the beginning of the third act. I don't have a high violence threshold, so was expecting lots of gruesome things which mostly didn't happen (I think the most gruesome is during the sex scene). In particular, I was super expecting that wolf's head to come to life and bite off her tongue during the make out scene...
posted by Cannon Fodder at 5:07 AM on June 19


I had forgotten the force field for a while, but when Curt started setting up for the jump that was enough of a reminder.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 5:35 AM on June 19


Fun fact: this is the most commented on movie thread FanFare has ever had.

So should I just pull a second movie out of a hat from the list we made for next week or do we want to do a whole nomination and sicussion thing again?
posted by DirtyOldTown at 6:43 AM on June 19


I do wish--this being a convention-skewering movie and all--that maybe the black guy could have lived a bit longer, or at the very least the notion that the black guy always dies early could have been mentioned and mocked.

WHOA, let's not get crazy here!

Loved this movie, though I had trouble with ending i.e. fuck it, let just get everyone killed. Kid's these days.

To the person who said there could be no sequel to this, don't bet it on it:
You have been notorious for saying that you wanted Cabin in the Woods to be self-contained; that you didn’t want to do a sequel. Do you still have the studio coming to you and asking you to make a sequel?

It’s not something we are totally against; we just don’t want to do a sequel for the sake of doing a sequel. If there was a story to be told, I think we’d get on board. We don’t want to do it just to make money. So I don’t know. I don’t know what the answer is. We’ll see what happens.


Cabin in the Woods II: Revenge of the Elder Gods. Mark Whalberg stars in the battle to save the world from an Ancient Evil!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:47 AM on June 19 [1 favorite]


So should I just pull a second movie out of a hat... Both of the original MeTa threads are still open (original and CitW selection). Maybe discuss the selection in one of those?
posted by Etrigan at 6:49 AM on June 19


If we are going to do this weekly, I think we should choose several weeks in advance for people who might be busy. But that is something that should be discussed elsewhere methinks.
posted by Literaryhero at 6:57 AM on June 19 [1 favorite]


Cabin in the Woods II: Revenge of the Elder Gods. Mark Whalberg stars in the battle to save the world from an Ancient Evil!

Cabin in the Woods 0: The Monster Mash. A take on the (now-)goofy-looking rubber-monster-suit horror movies of previous generations and how they fit into the rituals (possibly the earlier form of the Japanese rituals), with the twist that it didn't work that time either, setting up:

Cabin in the Woods ∞: The Final Slaughter. The super-ultra-megamix, where we really see the generations of how this proceeded, from the first rituals conducted more or less straightforwardly ("We must throw this virgin into the volcano to slake the thirst of the Elder Gods!") through their evolution into storytelling (The Grimm Brothers, Passion plays) into the modern movie forms (teen slasher flicks, J-horror), and the revelation that it's all a story within the story -- we trapped the Elder Gods not physically with cabins and blood, but inside our collective imagination, and the occasional "failure" is just as much part of the story as the Harbinger and the Choice and suchlike. But now, even that isn't enough. It all ends with the film breaking in the projector and two full minutes of burn-in before the credits roll.
posted by Etrigan at 7:00 AM on June 19 [6 favorites]


Cabin in the Woods .9: Rise of the Merman.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:03 AM on June 19 [2 favorites]


I do wish--this being a convention-skewering movie and all--that maybe the black guy could have lived a bit longer, or at the very least the notion that the black guy always dies early could have been mentioned and mocked.

I presume you're talking about Truman, who was one of the first major characters in the Facility to get killed (although I think he was blown up after Lin got grabbed by the Kraken), but Holden also read as a POC to me, and he outlived both Jules and Curt. I don't know; I think lampshading that particular "rule" would have introduced some racial baggage into the premise that was just as well avoided.

And forget sequels; what we need are Cabin recuts of other horror movies, showing Hadley and Sitterson manipulating events behind the scenes.
posted by Faint of Butt at 7:08 AM on June 19 [12 favorites]


what we need are Cabin recuts of other horror movies, showing Hadley and Sitterson manipulating events behind the scenes.

My money, let me give you it.
posted by Etrigan at 7:10 AM on June 19 [14 favorites]


Cabin in the Woods 6: Elder Gods Take Manhattan

Cabin in the Woods- In Space

Don't even get me started on the direct to video Leprechaun/CitW crossover.
posted by Literaryhero at 7:13 AM on June 19 [1 favorite]


> @cortex was spot on - it's not a takedown, it's a love letter... about recognizing and celebrating the cultural legacy of (particularly 80s) horror cinema. Absolutely - and I'd extend that even a bit beyond the per se horror genre, it was also a loving homage to 80s popular American cinema generally.

The way the writers named the characters was a wonderful, subtle nod to 80s cinema that worked on my imagination beautifully. In the 5 protagonists, we've got: Dana, Curt, Jules, Marty, and Holden.

Dana was the name of Sigourney Weaver's character in Ghostbusters, as well as the name of the older sister played by (IRL murder victim) Dominique Dunne in Poltergeist.

Jules was the name of Demi Moore's character in St. Elmo's Fire.

Marty conjures up Michael J. Fox's Marty McFly from the Back to the Future series.

Curt is totally what a jock born in the "surfer 60s" might have been named. Holden is of course the name of the bookish guy.

What I'm saying is these are mainly 1980s college kid names - not the typical names of college kids circa 2012 who we're to believe were born in the early 1990s. In that case we'd expect them to be named something closer to what the actors who play them are actually named (Kristen, Chris, Anna, Jesse, plus the one classic, uncommon name in the group: Francis), or maybe like 90210 characters Brandon or Dylan, or something like Jessica, Sarah, Michael, or Josh.

Hooray for some 80s cinema love!
posted by hush at 7:13 AM on June 19 [4 favorites]


I don't know; I think lampshading that particular "rule" would have introduced some racial baggage into the premise that was just as well avoided.

Meh, Deep Blue Sea did a marvelous job of poking at this in an amusing way, no reason CitW couldn't have. Not a big deal either way, but considering that the film is skewering the audience for wanting films of sex and death, a tweak about racism wouldn't be overkill.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:15 AM on June 19 [3 favorites]


Cabin in the Woods 3: Season of the Witch

No cabin, no woods, just Tom Atkins solving a mystery.
posted by doctornecessiter at 7:16 AM on June 19 [3 favorites]


Let's meet over in the last MeFi Horror MeTa and talk about the next selection.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 8:10 AM on June 19


It’s not something we are totally against; we just don’t want to do a sequel for the sake of doing a sequel. If there was a story to be told, I think we’d get on board.

Oh god, please don't pull a Scream. Some movies are better done in one. Scream's sequels were such a lame and unnecessary nod to horror franchises and IMO spoiled their legacy. We really, really don't need a movie about the elder gods.
posted by Hoopo at 8:49 AM on June 19


As far as horror-deconstruction movies go, I like the whole "snuff film" subgenre, which tends to be full of indictments on the viewer for wanting to see violence on screen in the first place. The movies themselves tend to be violent and dark as well. There are tons of terrible movies in the genre, like the Nicholas Cage vehicle 8mm, and a handful of good ones, like Alejandro Amenábar's Tesis.

I have to admit that I liked Cabin in the Woods a lot better the first time I saw it (though I still think it's a fun movie). There are a lot of bits in there that just rely on surprising you, like the Harbinger / speakerphone thing or the part right at the beginning where the jock gives her advice on her post-Soviet economics textbook.

Actually, getting back to the deconstruction bit, I agree with the notion that we are the hand at the end - or at least, that the general horror-movie audience is. I'm not quite sure what the end of the Cabin in the Woods says about its own attitude towards that audience.
posted by whir at 8:54 AM on June 19


what we need are Cabin recuts of other horror movies, showing Hadley and Sitterson manipulating events behind the scenes.

This should be the Cabin In The Woods video game. It's an action puzzle game where you play as Hadley and Sitterson in a frantic single-player-coop trying to use too few resources to manage realtime crises in the facility while the various classic horror movie scenes play out in caricatured fashion on the facility monitors. Sort of an FTL-meets-Dragon's-Lair deal.
posted by cortex at 9:04 AM on June 19 [10 favorites]


Night Trap in reverse?
posted by kmz at 9:10 AM on June 19


As far as horror-deconstruction movies go, I like the whole "snuff film" subgenre, which tends to be full of indictments on the viewer for wanting to see violence on screen in the first place.

When brainstorming about other deconstructionist horror movies, as I reached back earlier than the 90s I kept bumping into "acknowledges horror movies and their affects on audiences but doesn't necessarily directly comment on tropes" movies: Anguish, Demons 1 and 2, Popcorn, Fade to Black...others?
posted by doctornecessiter at 9:39 AM on June 19


My feeling is, the film is not a takedown, it's a love letter

Very much so. I am really hoping we can play "spot the reference" in this thread at the end, because there was so much in the cellar and later in the facility that brought a smile to my face.


I feel like the general conceit of the film and the scenes at the facility were fun, such as the big party scene while the standard final girl vs. monster confrontation is happening, but what really made the movie great for me were the scenes during the purge. The quick throwaway shots of various villains causing havoc are great, especially if you have seen Hellraiser and The Evil Dead and the various other films they are referencing.

Actually, getting back to the deconstruction bit, I agree with the notion that we are the hand at the end - or at least, that the general horror-movie audience is. I'm not quite sure what the end of the Cabin in the Woods says about its own attitude towards that audience.

I would say that the film isn't really making a comment about the audience, it's making a comment about Hollywood and their view of moviegoers as some sort of monolithic force that will reject their movie if they don't follow all of the genre and screenwriting conventions. The events of the film are analogous to an opening weekend, and the end of the world for them is if the movie (or the whole genre, I guess) flops. The conventions aren't dictated to the facility/Hollywood, it's just a set a things that have been found to work over the years, and the main mistake that they make is in becoming overly confident that they have everything down to a science and can be successful by just doing what they always do. The main message of letting the world be destroyed by defying conventions is less a comment about the actual world not being worth saving and more a comment about not always pandering to the lowest common denominator by recycling the same old formula and instead doing something that hasn't been done before and challenging conventions.
posted by burnmp3s at 9:54 AM on June 19 [36 favorites]


Oh fuck we can all go home now. burnmp3s nailed it to the fucking wall.
posted by Etrigan at 10:12 AM on June 19 [1 favorite]


So... we are the Old Gods.

Neat.
posted by mochapickle at 10:24 AM on June 19


That's the reason I'm not big on the very end where the hand actually rips through the earth and (we assume) the world is doomed shortly thereafter – if the Director is right and there really is a lurking monster ready to destroy the world of horror movies if they dare to violate the formula in any way, it's an affirmation that yes, in the 93-minute analogy that is this movie, audiences really will punish you for not having a Final Girl or letting a college student take her shirt off without being bloodily murdered five seconds later – or, ancient gods forbid, not take her shirt off at all. It points the giant magma-finger right at the audience (an audience that's watching a subversive, convention-breaking-ish film, no less) when up until then that part of the message was nicely ambiguous.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 10:25 AM on June 19


So... we are the Old Gods.

And the hand bursting through the ground at the end represents very literally our angry vengeance in the form of looking at the new releases schedule and saying "fuck it, let's just stay home and watch Night of the Living Dead again".
posted by cortex at 10:56 AM on June 19 [9 favorites]


it's an affirmation that yes, in the 93-minute analogy that is this movie, audiences really will punish you for not having a Final Girl or letting a college student take her shirt off without being bloodily murdered five seconds later – or, ancient gods forbid, not take her shirt off at all

Ask James Gunn, director of Slither, about that.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:31 AM on June 19 [2 favorites]


ROU, don't keep me in suspense... Why is that?
posted by mochapickle at 11:36 AM on June 19 [1 favorite]


When the giant hand appeared, I immediately thought, 'So what?" The last time these fools were scaring humanity, we were running around with spears and still engrossed about this new technology, FIRE. Let the Elder Gods come forth and meet a humanity that's tired of their demands and sending them notice via a wing of F-22s and depleted uranium bullets. Besides, we have the Jaeger program up and ready to kick 'em back down their holes.
posted by Atreides at 11:39 AM on June 19


MeTa for Horror Club Pick #2: Noroi (The Curse)
posted by DirtyOldTown at 1:10 PM on June 19 [1 favorite]


Cabin director Drew Goddard's (b. 1975) take (thanks @johnofjack upthread) :

"So much of this movie ends up being about mythology in general, and our pagan nature... When you're dealing with archetypes you're dealing with things that have been around forever, and that is very much at the heart of Cabin in the Woods, that this isn't just about horror movies, this is about mythology, and who we are as a people, and what we keep doing to youth, and how that we have this need, as people, to idealize youth, and then marginalize youth, and then destroy youth. That is a pattern our society falls into, and has fallen into, since we first came out of the caves."

"I wanted to feel sort of the vibrancy of youth... It was very important that we felt like, you know, these kids feel alive. And the woods and their clothing is colorful. Whereas [with the adults] it's much more 'This is what happens as you get older - life gets more drab, you know, you become... you start to look like everyone else.' The diversity goes down, they're all sort of wearing the same thing. And so I really wanted to feel the difference between adulthood and youth, and that sort of motivated every decision we made, on the production design and costume design."

[on whether or not The Cabin in the Woods is an "end-all-be-all essay" on the horror genre] - "I certainly hope and I do not believe the genre will ever die. That was not our intent. It was more of celebrating the genre and why we need it. It was never 'let's make fun of the genre.' It was more interesting to comment on why we create these mythologies - not just in horror - and stories. Why do we need to feel the need to scare ourselves? It seems counterintuitive. That's what got at the soul of this movie and we never wanted to say something definitive."
posted by hush at 1:34 PM on June 19 [5 favorites]


What else? This is practically its own subgenre at this point. there must be others.

Shaun of the Dead, dude.
posted by EmGeeJay at 1:45 PM on June 19 [3 favorites]


especially if you have seen Hellraiser and The Evil Dead

Also I know a few people have talked about the wolf head already, but yeah i was expecting an Evil-Dead-2-taxidermied-head-freak-out for a sec. I feel like even though it didn't happen, it was a reference to that scene just based on all of the other cues throughout the movie. Pretty sure there was even a similar pendant in the cellar to the one from Evil Dead, not to mention the descent into the previously unnoticed cellar itself evoking that scene with our ol' friend Henrietta.
posted by Hoopo at 2:14 PM on June 19 [1 favorite]


Oh, and yeah, the whole "cabin in the woods" thing is pretty similar too I guess but not exclusive to Evil Dead.
posted by Hoopo at 2:18 PM on June 19


Joss Whedon's Funny Games
posted by Sticherbeast at 2:28 PM on June 19 [2 favorites]


The whiteboard also lists "Angry Molesting Tree" (which we see lunge out of an elevator and grab a security guard) and "Deadites" as possible monsters.
posted by Faint of Butt at 2:28 PM on June 19 [3 favorites]


My favorite response upon leaving the theater: a friend saying, "I'm pretty sure that that movie just defeated horror movies. I don't know how you could make another one after that."
posted by Sticherbeast at 2:35 PM on June 19 [3 favorites]


The whiteboard also lists "Angry Molesting Tree" (which we see lunge out of an elevator and grab a security guard) and "Deadites" as possible monsters.

The scariest whiteboard listing of them all was Kevin. Even without knowing anything else... Kevin. *shudder*
posted by Etrigan at 2:50 PM on June 19 [11 favorites]


As in Lionel Schriver's We Need to Talk About Kevin Kevin? Because yeah, creepy as fug.
posted by hush at 3:56 PM on June 19 [1 favorite]


I was visiting my parents when this came out on DVD (after having already seen it myself in the theater once or twice), so I ran out and bought it, and tried to get my mother to watch it with me.

"Oh, I think I've seen it. I didn't like it."
"I am fairly certain you haven't seen it; it just came out on DVD."
"Is it about some kids who go to a cabin in the woods and get killed by hillbillies?"
"Well, yeah, but I still don't think it's the movie you saw. And I'm not going to tell you anything else about it."

I finally got her to watch it, and she liked it (some parts are really a laugh riot), and of course it was not the movie she thought it was. I tried to figure out what movie she had been talking about:
"Was it The Evil Dead? Was it Cabin Fever? Was it The Texas Chainsaw Massacre?" ad ridiculum. Turns out it was Wrong Turn (starring Eliza Dushku).

"Why in the world would you have rented that?" Mom's not exactly a gore-horror fan. Someone at her work had come in after seeing Wrong Turn and raved to her about it, telling her she would love it. Is that a thing, wherein people say "you'll love it" about things that they like, without actually having any reason whatsoever to believe that it's true for the person to whom they're recommending it?
posted by obloquy at 4:03 PM on June 19 [2 favorites]


5. Obviously, the Japanese version that we see on the monitor, which I sort of wish had been this movie

True, although then we wouldn't have my favorite scene of the whole film, with Bradley Whitford screaming "FUCK YOU! FUCK YOU!"at the happily oblivious Japanese schoolgirls.
posted by running order squabble fest at 4:05 PM on June 19 [11 favorites]


After my 3rd viewing, THIS is now my favorite bit:

[as Marty and Dana get into the elevator the dismembered arm of the zombie that was in the grave falls into the elevator]

Marty: Fucking zombie arm!
...
[as the elevator stops, Dana and Marty are met by a security guard who has his gun pointed at them and starts shouting]
Elevator Guard: Step out of the elevator! Step out of the elevator!
Dana: Why are you trying to kill us?
Elevator Guard: Step out! Just the girl!
Marty: What? What?
Elevator Guard: Do it!
[suddenly the dismembered zombie arm that was on the elevator floor grabs hold of the guards foot giving Marty and Dana a chance to hit the guard and kill him]
Marty: Good work, zombie arm.
posted by hush at 5:41 PM on June 19 [4 favorites]


Which, that goddam zombie elevator thing right at the end of Re-Animator? I won't go so far as to call it a direct allusion, but it's what I think of for sure.
posted by cortex at 5:45 PM on June 19 [1 favorite]


Well, despite being super-psyched about Mefi Morror Club, this is my first chance to read the thread properly (it dropped on my birthday and I've been mostly offline eating key lime pie, going to the cinema and opening presents). So I'm halfway through rewatching Cabin right now and of course all of my halfway-interesting observations have been already said upthread by folks more articulate than me.

But okay, here's a really dumb question: when the cogs turn and the sacrificial blood runs into the carved glyph, that's not meant to be the actual blood of the victim who was just killed, right? It's just some random pre-prepared blood in a vial? Because surely each victim dies in an unforseen place, and not directly above their designated blood tube.
posted by EXISTENZ IS PAUSED at 5:57 PM on June 19


I think the blood was pre-drawn from each victim.
posted by Faint of Butt at 6:06 PM on June 19


Erm yeah, sorry. That was a dumb question. I just watched another ten minutes and the film answered my question: we see The Fool's blood run into the glyph even though he's not dead. I'd forgotten that. Please ignore.
posted by EXISTENZ IS PAUSED at 6:07 PM on June 19


> I think the blood was pre-drawn from each victim.

Oh! really?
posted by EXISTENZ IS PAUSED at 6:07 PM on June 19


That's my guess, at any rate. It wouldn't make sense if the blood belonged to just anybody. I figured the Facility acquired and stored the blood well in advance of the ritual.
posted by Faint of Butt at 6:10 PM on June 19


Yeah, there's nothing to specifically indicate they did, but it would fit. There was a lot of preparation involved in this ritual.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 6:11 PM on June 19


I don't think it's a dumb question! As much as anything because I wondered about the same thing myself when I was podcasting about it with griphus, hence it must be an incisive, erudite line of thought. In the flow of the film, there's a tension between the notional organizational pre-determination of events and the actual precocious chaos that makes it easy to interpret things as a little more goofy on the logistical side than maybe they should be.

But I do like the "it was pre-drawn" answer as consistent with the notion that this really is an organized effort by an organization that's done a lot of prep work over however many iterations of this. Clearly they had done a lot of prep work on these various youths; jimmying up a non-bullshitty reason for a blood draw would have been reasonably trivial. (If nothing else, a discrete targeted dose of suggestibility gas during the prep period to get a straggler onboard with a local charity blood drive despite moderate needle/blood phobia.)
posted by cortex at 6:14 PM on June 19 [2 favorites]


Really I'd love to see a world bible (if maybe not an actual prequel) that focused entirely on the month(s) preceding the ritual. There's a whole narrative of all the sly fuckery in there that would be interesting to hear more about. And would be perfect for something for Aaron Sorkin to direct Bradley Whitford in, to boot. Think of the monstery walk-and-talks!
posted by cortex at 6:16 PM on June 19 [2 favorites]


Yeah, if we can't see Hadley and Sitterson spliced into other movies, I'd at least like them to give me a guided tour around the place.
posted by Faint of Butt at 6:19 PM on June 19


Something else occurred to me: it was a really stupid mistake to just assume Marty was dead without seeing it on camera. We're talking total amateur hour here. The God knew he wasn't dead; that's why it caused an earthquake, but Hadley assumed it was just excitement. I guess that just goes to show how complacent the Facility has grown over the years.
posted by Faint of Butt at 6:27 PM on June 19 [2 favorites]


I had considered the possibility the blood was pre-drawn, but couldn't recall any in-movie indication that was the case. I guess there's no rock solid answer? On one hand, using blood that belongs to just whomever seems inconsistent with the level of attention to detail the ritual otherwise requires. But on the other, I imagine most religious ceremonies suffer from myriad weird inconsistencies that have, over time, become as rigid as if they actually, you know, made sense.
posted by EXISTENZ IS PAUSED at 6:28 PM on June 19


Headcannon accepted.
posted by Strass at 6:49 PM on June 19


Ah, yay. I've just reached the point in the film where everything changes: when Marty and Dana climb into the grave. When I saw the film for the first time in the cinema I remember thinking that up to that point the film had been mildly enjoyable with a few high points. But as soon as they climb into the inner workings of the complex—descending into the mechanics of their own story and becoming self-aware—a whole new meta-textual layer is created. I remember sitting up a whole lot straighter when that happened.
posted by EXISTENZ IS PAUSED at 6:59 PM on June 19 [1 favorite]


Is it just me, or is Fornicus kind of hot, in a brooding/repressed/female gazey/Mr Rochester kind of way? I reckon you could sub him in any Colin Firth role pretty successfully, though the story endings might require some adjustment.
posted by EXISTENZ IS PAUSED at 7:09 PM on June 19 [2 favorites]


The conventions aren't dictated to the facility/Hollywood, it's just a set a things that have been found to work over the years, and the main mistake that they make is in becoming overly confident that they have everything down to a science and can be successful by just doing what they always do.

This is perfect. This is why we have Transformers 5, even though no one likes the Transformers movies. Good god.
posted by psoas at 7:10 PM on June 19


> My feeling is, the film is not a takedown, it's a love letter

I seem to remember Joss Whedon calling it 'a very loving hate letter' to horror cinema.
posted by EXISTENZ IS PAUSED at 7:59 PM on June 19 [1 favorite]


ROU, don't keep me in suspense... Why is that?

Sorry for the delay.

Gunn did a lot of those things... no final girl but a final team of three, no gratuitous t and a that I recall, etc. And it bombed HARD.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:42 PM on June 19 [2 favorites]


The quick throwaway shots of various villains causing havoc are great, especially if you have seen Hellraiser and The Evil Dead and the various other films they are referencing.

I was really hoping for the Hellraiser version when they got to this point.
posted by homunculus at 9:48 PM on June 19


I adore this movie, though I am not usually a horror fan. One of my favorite lines that I quote regularly is, "While those morons are singing "what a friend we have in Shinto" we are bringing the pain."

One of the features that took me awhile to notice is how different the characters are in that first scene than they are at the end. Curt, who becomes the brain-dead athlete, begins the movie by telling Dana how to succeed in a comparative politics class, while the audience is introduced to Holden, who becomes the scholar, when he makes an impossible football catch in the street. Dana, who becomes the virgin, is introduced in her underwear and we hear all about her failed affair with a professor, while Jules starts the movie in a committed relationship and wearing a sweetheart dress and a modest jacket before she becomes the whore later on. The only one who doesn't change is Marty because "he sees farther than they." I swing back and forth from enjoying this set-up to thinking it's heavy-handed because it's just so obvious once you look for it in those first scenes with the gang, but it's so easy to miss the first or second time through.

I also think Marty should've been the virgin at the end and Dana the fool. If I remember right from the Drew Goddard AMA on reddit awhile ago someone mentioned that to him and he gave a pretty sly "well wouldn't that have been a good idea" answer; I refuse to believe anyone involved with the Whedon empire wouldn't at least consider flipping those sexual politics in the drafting process.
posted by lilac girl at 10:08 PM on June 19 [12 favorites]


I know I'm extremely late to this thread, but going back to the big spoiler in the trailer: is it really such a big deal?

The big "spoiler" that I took from the trailer is that the Cabin is actually being run by some big, sciencey organisation who for some reason are monitoring and orchestrating the whole thing. This felt like a big spoiler at the time, because I assumed that they'd given away the film's SHOCKING TWIST. But it's not the twist, it's the premise, made explicit within the first few minutes of the film. The meat of the film is in exploring how and why they're doing this, and how it goes wrong, none of which is even hinted at by the trailer.

I'm normally very spoiler-averse (I almost didn't bother watching, because I thought the trailer's spoiler was so heinous), so I'm not saying "pfft, spoilers don't matter". I genuinely don't think that establishing the universe that this film happens in counts as a spoiler. I'd almost argue that the trailer is an extension of the film in the sense that it's a parody of horror film trailers: it appears to give away the entire plot in the service of showing off its cool monsters, while actually holding most of the story out of sight.
posted by metaBugs at 5:30 AM on June 20


It's possible that I have a weird take on the above, given that I'm all in favour of evil sciency stuff, and not actually that much of a horror fan.
posted by metaBugs at 5:32 AM on June 20


I spotted another minor flaw in the movie, and this one is all on the filmmakers. After Jules' death, Ma Buckner just sort of disappears. Unlike the rest of the Buckners, she gets no denouement. I wonder if this was something that got lost in script revision.
posted by Faint of Butt at 5:32 AM on June 20


I assumed that Marty had taken care of her off-camera with his lightsaber-bong.
posted by metaBugs at 5:35 AM on June 20


Maybe, but none of the others are dealt with off-camera, so it feels out of place. And I guess the existence of the Facility isn't a spoiler per se, but it was a surprise to me upon my first viewing, and I really enjoyed that. Some movies just benefit from coming in blind. It's like another guilty pleasure of mine, Full Moon Pictures' The Creeps. The most awesome, hilarious part of the movie's premise is given away on the cover, but it plays so much better when it comes as a surprise.
posted by Faint of Butt at 5:36 AM on June 20


This is why we have Transformers 5, even though no one likes the Transformers movies.

(I just want to point out that it's not too late for us to prevent Transformers 5. I've been looking forward to not buying a ticket for Transformers 4 this summer ever since they announced that it was being made. Everyone needs to do their part. Together we can beat them.)
posted by doctornecessiter at 5:59 AM on June 20


*singing* Just don't look! Just don't look!
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:18 AM on June 20


It's got Joss Whedon's guarantee!*

*guarantee void in worlds inhabited by slumbering horror-addicted elder gods
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 6:26 AM on June 20 [3 favorites]


I also think Marty should've been the virgin at the end and Dana the fool.

They were only filling the roles symbolically anyway though. The orchestrators knew in advance that Marty wasn't foolish and Dana wasn't a virgin, but they were still planning on shoehorning them into these roles anyway. I don't think it would have mattered much if Marty turned out to be a virgin or Dana turned out to be a fool.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 8:20 AM on June 20


Yeah, the fact that pretty much none of the kids are representative of their "archetype," and are in fact manipulated with IQ-reducing hair dye and pheromone mists, is interesting. Hadley and Stitterson are so secure in their abilities to get the job done, and so far beyond feeling any sort of sympathy for the kids, that they've become complacently overconfident as well as lacking in any critical examination of their own methods or of the parts they play in the grand scheme.

Goddard mentions in the special feature We Are Not Who We Are that a lot of inspiration for the Facility was taken directly from his experience of growing up in Los Alamos, seeing perfectly normal people go to their perfectly normal jobs, where they worked at making horribly destructive things. You could say that their cause was noble, that they were all just trying to save the world, but in the film, the attitudes contradict that. When Lin tells Truman during the betting frenzy, "They're just blowing off steam," she knows that's not really true, and that she's just trying to justify to the new guy everyone's apparent delight in playing gambling games about murder. Same with Stitterson shaming Truman for finding their "show us the tits" glee distasteful by saying, "We're not the only ones watching." The saving-the-world-from-the-Ancient-ones thing is a rationalization. At this point, their motivation really is just seeing some boobs and collecting a paycheck for it.
posted by obloquy at 9:24 AM on June 20 [2 favorites]


Hadley and Stitterson are so secure in their abilities to get the job done, and so far beyond feeling any sort of sympathy for the kids, that they've become complacently overconfident as well as lacking in any critical examination of their own methods or of the parts they play in the grand scheme.

I'm not sure that's true, though, at least as far as lacking sympathy. There's a moment after Dana has gone in the lake and Hadley and Sitterson are watching her swim toward shore on the monitor. They break out a cooler of beers and the new guy asks why they're celebrating when Dana is still alive. Hadley tells him that, "the virgin's death is optional so long as it's last. The main thing is that she, you know, suffers." The catch in his voice is telling, I think.

Hadley stares at the screen and talks about her suffering, how he was almost rooting for her, how much heart she has, and the look on his face is anything but unsympathetic. Then he segues into "tequila is my lady, my lady!" because the rest of the staff shows up. That scene does a lot of work to illustrate/explain the confident, jocular facade over the deeper, mixed feelings this character has.
posted by malthusan at 1:06 PM on June 20 [7 favorites]


Yeah, also the grim, joyless way Hadley says 'Score' when tits finally appear.
posted by EXISTENZ IS PAUSED at 2:41 PM on June 20 [1 favorite]


Why did they take an RV to stay in a cabin?
posted by stet at 10:24 PM on June 20 [4 favorites]


RV = "arr vee" = Harvey = invisible man-sized rabbit = metaphor for the synthesis of delusion and anthropomorphized theism at the heart of the ritual
posted by cortex at 11:13 PM on June 20 [5 favorites]


Maybe it was that or cram everybody and their bags into Marty's car.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 4:22 AM on June 21


Why did they take an RV to stay in a cabin?

Goddammit, stet, you just broke the movie.
posted by Etrigan at 5:13 AM on June 21 [3 favorites]


Teen road trip!

Also, because they do in The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, right?
posted by running order squabble fest at 5:56 AM on June 21


In this thread at last! I hadn't heard about this movie before the MeTa about it because I'm not a horror movie person at all. But that MeTa, especially jbickers' comment about his wife going back to see it a second time got me thinking about renting it, and the first one and a half comments in this thread gave me the nudge I needed to just go ahead with it.

So, husband (who is into J-horror) and I saw it today and we both really enjoyed it! I'm glad I got to see it without knowing anything about it, so thanks, MetaFilter!
posted by misozaki at 7:45 AM on June 21


> Also, because they do in The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, right?

I was just about to say this! Plus, you know, Scooby-Doo.
posted by EXISTENZ IS PAUSED at 8:42 AM on June 21 [1 favorite]


IT'S A VAN IN SCOOBY DOO

THE MYSTERY MACHINE IS A GODDAM VAN
posted by cortex at 12:03 PM on June 21 [3 favorites]


*decides world doesn't deserve saving*
posted by cortex at 12:03 PM on June 21 [7 favorites]


"So much of this movie ends up being about mythology in general, and our pagan nature

Yeah, I got this from the movie much more than a comment on Hollywood. It's about ritual, and I loved how the movie posited that slasher flicks aren't "formulaic", they're "ritualized". The idea of strict genre conventions fulfilling the purposes of ritual repetition is one I find pretty interesting.

One of the features that took me awhile to notice is how different the characters are in that first scene than they are at the end.

Yeah, for me the saddest moment in the film is where one of the teens realizes they're all behaving uncharacteristically, and yelps "My friends are not like this!" (or something similar). It's this sad acknowledgement of all that gets lost when people are forced into archetypes.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 2:50 PM on June 21 [3 favorites]


> THE MYSTERY MACHINE IS A GODDAM VAN

Yeah, obviously? But I can't be the only one who was reminded of Shaggy as that scruffy stoner climbed into an oblong vehicle and asked his redheaded friend for food.

It is true I am insufficiently passionate about both Scooby-Doo and the many different subcategories of oblong vehicles and for that I am sorry.
posted by EXISTENZ IS PAUSED at 5:53 PM on June 21


It's also a van in TCM.
posted by EXISTENZ IS PAUSED at 5:53 PM on June 21 [1 favorite]


RV in Diary of the Dead! But that seems unlikely to be the reference.

(Probably as likely is the RV Buffy tries to flee Sunnydale in in Season 5 of Buffy...)
posted by running order squabble fest at 7:28 PM on June 21


One of the features that took me awhile to notice is how different the characters are in that first scene than they are at the end.

I laughed out loud on my most recent rewatch when I realized star-receiver Holden - introduced catching a football thrown unexpectedly in his general direction from a random second-story window - has somehow acquired nerd glasses by the time he and Dana are on the couch reading Latin. I picture a deleted scene where whispery voices argue that of course those are your glasses, that you wear, always have, blind without 'em... and now that I'm picturing it, it's actually less funny and more creepifying. Yeesh.

It's mentioned upthread that the canyon-jump seems like a slip on Goddard and Whedon's part. I feel like you can make it work as an in-universe failure of the Bureau of Killing Teenagers. Hadley and Sidderson have just barely fended off disaster, everyone's still off balance, and then one of the Sacrifices does something slightly creative and dies a bullshit ex-machina death that shows victims and watching gods alike that something artificial is going on. On one level it's a bit of black-comedy bathos, sure, but it's also a sign of how tenuous Hadley and Sidderson's omniscient preparations are in the face of messy, real-human chaos. Heck, for all we know, Sidderson had "Scenario 127: Motorcycle Escape" right there in his DM notes, but that doesn't help if he's busy wheezing his way back up from Demolitions and wondering if he has time to stop for a Snickers.
posted by ormondsacker at 9:27 PM on June 21 [3 favorites]


How do you suppose they got Curt to believe the place really was, in his words, "my cousin's country home"? Dana is the first one to say out loud that she's figured out the truth. If this is an intentional quasi-plot hole (or not?), what film(s) were they paying homage to, if any?
posted by hush at 10:10 PM on June 21


I feel like if you're not only being asked to accept that x-type of monster is an actuality but all the monsters are in fact completely real but then decide a force field is apparently over the line then I'm going to have a hard time following that nitpick.
I mean there wasn't one point where I saw one of the campers killed and thought "totally had it coming!" We are consistently led into questioning how basically everything is contrived in the scenario: the setting, the characters, their behavior, and even the point of view of both the camera and the audience.
posted by P.o.B. at 1:12 AM on June 22 [3 favorites]


Amy Acker and Fran Kranz are basically playing their roles from Dollhouse, down to the character's outfits, to the point that I was surprised in just about every scene that Amy Acker didn't have facial scarring.

Seriously, you guys. Joss Whedon apparently really liked those characters. As did I.
posted by RainyJay at 8:25 PM on June 23


all the monsters are in fact completely real but then decide a force field is apparently over the line then I'm going to have a hard time following that nitpick.

I don't see why. The monsters are ostensibly a secret part of a world not unlike ours that relies on appeasing powerful ancient gods that no one knows about. They are kept in a high security compound that looks pretty much like things that might exist, in our own world. The force field? It did not look like part of the ancient gods blood sacrifice world. It was human tech-y. It introduces some kind of future human technology way beyond anything that exists in the world for little or no real reason in terms of the narrative and that isn't terribly consistent with the rest of the movie. It just doesn't seem to fit (outside of your own pretty great take on it that makes me like it better)

Anyway, in general I don't think you can really say "well if you can suspend disbelief in one crazy thing, you should be able to suspend disbelief in any crazy thing." Some things just sort of come out of left field and don't really belong. For me that was one. I mean, if in Lord Of The Rings suddenly space marines show up and blast everyone with lasers, or if in Ghostbusters all of a sudden robots.
posted by Hoopo at 8:58 PM on June 23


Oh interesting...and Amy Acker's Dollhouse look was really born originally in Fred at Wolfram and Hart (pre-blue girl god).
posted by double bubble at 9:08 PM on June 23 [1 favorite]


The monsters are ostensibly a secret part of a world not unlike ours that relies on appeasing powerful ancient gods that no one knows about. They are kept in a high security compound that looks pretty much like things that might exist, in our own world. The force field? It did not look like part of the ancient gods blood sacrifice world. It was human tech-y.

There was at least one human tech-y sort of monster as well -- I think of it as Murderbot.
posted by Etrigan at 9:12 PM on June 23


I can see how the force field does stand out as a piece of tech, but I think for me I assumed it may have been part of the deal with the devil. Like it was part of the prison to keep the physical manifestations of the essence of evil in check rather than keeping some campers from escaping.
Although I thought the most significant bit of plot kludging was the big red button that happens to dump nightmare fuel into the office lobby.
posted by P.o.B. at 6:34 AM on June 24


I think Whedon had the last word on that one in the commentary, something to the effect of "Of course there's a system purge button! What if they have to purge the system?"
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 8:12 AM on June 24 [10 favorites]


That is the only explanation ever needed.
posted by P.o.B. at 10:02 AM on June 24 [3 favorites]


I figured that there is another secret lab, which is coordinating the secret lab in Cabin in the Woods to make sure it follows the generic elements of "mad science gone wrong" movies. So, of course there's a system purge button - an agent of the metalab snuck into the contracting team and added it to the wiring diagram...
posted by running order squabble fest at 11:31 AM on June 24 [1 favorite]


The force field? It did not look like part of the ancient gods blood sacrifice world. It was human tech-y. It introduces some kind of future human technology way beyond anything that exists in the world for little or no real reason in terms of the narrative and that isn't terribly consistent with the rest of the movie

Oh, I disagree. The changing of temperature and lighting when Jules and Kurt are out in the woods? The introduction of pheromones in the atmosphere? Those are also high-tech things we couldn't really do, but that exist in their world.

Which makes sense, if you consider the a Old Gods are the driving forces. Just think how much scientific advancement is possible, and easier to accomplish, in a world where JudeoChristian morality never came into play.
posted by misha at 10:28 AM on June 26 [1 favorite]


I enjoyed this and wouldn't have watched if not for Mefi Horror Club.

I have to admit, as chaos was reigning in the facility, I expected the last scene to be Nate Fisher or the Director closing a vault door and saying "Most successful sacrifice ever!".

A question: Dana and Marty found the Buckner torture chamber. Would that not have been 'unlocked' if they had selected another monster earlier in the basement? Would they have interpreted that room differently?
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 5:43 AM on June 27


If you can accept a world where Elder Gods provide humans with a proverbial zoo of nightmare monsters, you have to accept that they are also providing the technological know-how to create force fields. In terms of narrative, it works better if the office drones are pushing buttons to deploy tech rather than reciting incantations to do it.
posted by mkultra at 10:24 AM on June 28


But as soon as they climb into the inner workings of the complex—descending into the mechanics of their own story and becoming self-aware—a whole new meta-textual layer is created.

That scene reminded me very strongly of the similar transition halfway through (the game) Portal.

Also, the glass-walled travels-in-all-directions elevator: very Charlie and the Choclate Factory. (More accurately, Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator. Which I really would like someone to film one day, because the Vermicious Knids scared the absolute willies out of me as a kid.)
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 12:36 PM on June 29 [1 favorite]


 I mean, if in Lord Of The Rings suddenly space marines show up and blast everyone with lasers

This is like nerd viagra to me. I cannot think of anything that could possibly be better than a LotR/Warhammer 40k crossover.
posted by Literaryhero at 5:36 PM on June 29


Question: did Dana and Marty fail to appease the old gods, or did they finally successfully utter a prayer of praise and welcome to the old gods? I mean, we see it as not keeping the giant monstrous unutterable things placid but from the perspective of the unutterable isn't rising and holding active dominion over the world something they'd sort of be into, probably, insofar as we're going to venture any sort of theory-of-mind about unutterable ancient dwelling things?

Hell, maybe the old gods have spent this whole time sort of confused and emotionally injured by the fact that they gave humanity all these awesome toys to play with, all these neat Terror Of The Old Gods sampler packs to prove what good times we could all have at a large scale if only humanity would say yes, please, thank you for these gifts, may we have more—and then humanity keeps hitting the snooze button instead. The old gods feel, not pacified, but rejected; not slumbering, but sulking, wondering why we won't invite them, after so many hints, to the prom.

Dana and Marty finally asked them to the prom. That hand that comes out of the ground at the end was getting ready to high five.
posted by cortex at 6:19 AM on June 30 [6 favorites]


A force sphere should be easier to create than a force field wall per se. In a 3D universe and with projection of forces concentrated in a central area (stars, solar systems, galaxies) at the newtonian scale, the effect is always spherical unless additional forces or huge amount of matter are put in place to distort the shape as with a shaped charge
posted by aydeejones at 5:32 PM on July 2 [1 favorite]


aydeejones, beans, plate, grumble grumble... ;)
posted by Literaryhero at 7:31 PM on July 2


So, I finally watched this, having zero idea what it was about going into it, other than that it was probably going to be set in a cabin...in the woods.

I was very pleasantly surprised. I don't "do" horror movies, not because I'm particularly grossed out or scared by them, but simply because I think they're stupid as all get-out, so this movie was basically wish fulfillment for me.

I think my mom would like it, and being a dutiful daughter I texted her to tell her to watch it. The way my mom texts is by group texing my brother and me, so my brother is part of this conversation, too. Which I will share with you now.
Me: Mom, have you seen Cabin in the Woods? If you haven't, do not read anything about it, do not watch the trailer, just go find it and watch it. I think you'll love it.

Brother: I've seen it.

Me: Did you like it? I just watched it.
[Brother private-texts me at this point and says "Is that the one where they find the underground place with all of the stupid monster things that attack everybody?" I reply yes.]
Brother: Honestly...I thought it was queer.

Mom: If it has anything demonic or supernatural about it, I can't watch it.

Mom: Is it about some demented gene deficient family attacking a family in a cabin?

Me: You will just have to trust me.

Me: You liked Shawn of the Dead. You will like this, I think.

Brother: Nope. I didn't.

Me: Mom did.

Mom: Mom did what?

Brother: Ya. What did mom do?

Me: Mom liked Shawn of the Dead.

Mom: Mom did what? Liked Shawn of the Dead?
Anyway, it sounds like she may actually watch it.

Success!
posted by phunniemee at 7:06 PM on July 3 [1 favorite]


Why did they take an RV to stay in a cabin?

There were five people going to the cabin, plus their luggage and they also took a motorcycle with them. It would have been very difficult and uncomfortable to transport all that in a car. Seems like a reasonable choice to me.
posted by orange swan at 7:30 AM on July 8 [1 favorite]


One of my favorite bits is the casting. I've always thought Tom Lenk reminded me of Bradley Whitford: similar voices, similar mannerisms and definitely similar appearances. It's nice to see that the one other person who agrees with me is Joss Whedon.
posted by nikitabot at 7:57 PM on July 10 [2 favorites]


I finally saw this last night - it's the Ones who walk away from Omelas, isn't it? With the girl in the basement as the protagonist(s).
posted by Sebmojo at 7:27 PM on July 20


I thought the filmed version of "The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas" was Doctor Who's "The Beast Below" (except if the story were clumsy, had the edges sanded off, and was just generally a mess).
posted by johnofjack at 7:57 AM on July 21


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