Originally Appearing In: The Woodsworth Howl
Imagine walking into your kitchen, pulling out a high powered blender, throwing in the plots from The Evil Dead, Scream, Scary Movie, Jeepers Creepers, Cabin Fever, Cube, and topping this off with some pages of an H.P. Lovecraft story. Smash the blend button and I guess the results could begin to explain what Cloverfield writer Drew Godard’s directorial debut The Cabin in the Woodsaccomplishes. Cabin follows a group of young adults who take a weekend retreat to a, well, Cabin in the woods. Penned by Godard and Buffy the Vampire Slayer T.V. show creator Joss Whedon, this duo wastes little time showing off their precise knowledge of the workings of the camp and Meta horror conventions which have dominated the box offices for the last fifteen.
The Cabin cast is composed of the sexy but overly sophisticated Dana (Kristen Connolly), her valley girl roommate Jules (Anna Hutchison) and Anne’s all American football bro boyfriend Curt (Chris Hemsworth). Throw in Holden (Jesse Willaims), a highly intelligent but still very token black guy, Holden (Jesse Williams) and the constantly stoned to the bone Marty (Fran Kranz) and voila: Cabinskilfully sets the foundation for its playful bizzaro-horror aesthetic in its cast alone. While many films have made multi part franchises (see Scary Movie 1-3) about the wackiness of the overuse of staple characters (the smart girl, the cheerleader, the joc, etc), Godard and Whedon show instead that it takes only a well written 10 minute conversation amongst all the film’s characters to establish stereotypes. While the regurgitated cast pile into an old school camper for their weekendgetaway, we find out they are completely unaware that their every move is being monitored by a top secret American Military division dedicated to covertly causing supernatural havoc and unleashing monsters all around the world as a ritualistic offering to blood thirsty, Lovecraftian gods.
One of the best things about Cabin is that the clever portrayals of horror clichés (at one point the men in the bunker unleash pheromones that make Anne and Curt become inexplicably horny), makes the film that much more intelligent. The characters are attacked by the undead cadavers of a creepy quaker family buried beneath the Cabin, whose marred corpses relentlessly hunt them in a The Hill’s Have Eyes fashion. Once they find out that the Cabin, the zombies, and generally all the other monstrosities they come across are part of a bigger event orchestrated by this behind the scene Military force, Cabin warps the genre one more time by turning Cabin into a sinister fantasy imagining the diabolical powers that are actually responsible for our government’s actions.
Cabin’s inventive reworking gives attention to the very particular niche that Godard occupies in a cinema already highly saturated with camp and satire films. By continually mutating the genre and stereotypes in the film, Cabin’s greatest comment is its display of just how ridiculous the standards of modern American horror films have become. Unlike any other the other parody horror films of late, the character’s in Cabin follow their source of terror all the way to its Cthulhu-esque origins and functions as both the writer’s way of taking a stand (no longer will the characters of a horror film be ambiguously haunted but instead they fight to find out whya deranged Zombie family has decided to attack them. All this makes Cabin recognizable as one of the most original camp genre parody pieces I’ve ever seen.