Spoilers think we should’ve stayed at the hotel.

I don’t know how I’ve never reviewed this movie before. I’ve triple-checked but it’s not there. I don’t like to trend my reviews since the idea is you can just pick one to read without any sort of continuity. For the daily readers of this blog (the few, the proud…) you might have noticed that I’ve been striving to pick some new features from the horror genre and striking out. Worst timing ever, at the start of the year, where most stinkers come out. So I’m going back to titles from past years and found this film which sounds like a lock for this blog, but somehow I’ve never written about it.

(Credit: Lionsgate)

The Cabin in the Woods (2011) is directed by Drew Goddard, who wrote it with Joss Whedon. Innocent Dana (Kristen Connolly), athletic Curt (Chris Hemsworth), raunchy Jules (Anna Hutchison), class clown Marty (Fran Kranz) and nerdy Holden (Jesse Williams) are all college students and friends are spending the weekend at a very isolated cabin in the middle of nowhere. What they don’t know and we’re going to learn fast enough is that the fact that each of them is meant to fit a stereotype in a horror scenario is anything but accidental. Nor it is the fact that they’re going to stumble into a book that will include an incantation to summon something demonic.

Cut to two lab technicians (Richard Jenkins and Bradley Whitford) overseeing everything to a monitor and you realize that we’re not in your average horror story. We’re in a controlled experiment and all our characters are actually lab rats. Actually the experiment itself is supposed to be a ritual to appease… Well, you’ll find out. This story is a thick layer of meta-inception where each of our fun-seeking friends get drugged into acting as their archetypes to then getting slashed one by one. Our survivors will end up having to infiltrate the facility to discover who’s moving the strings.

It works. The behind-the-curtain look at the most over-the-top meta explanation for all horror tropes will subvert and disarm the standard horror atmosphere. The corporate environment is really another layer of horror, one of cold and desensitized look into someone else’s suffering. It might be slightly more niche, and it does require an audience that has been exposed to corporate shenanigans, so for young audiences it might go over their heads. Then again, the idea that there’s an institution that believes that it can search, protect and contain (hint, hint) forces of chaos is shown as delusional here soon enough.

Highly recommended. If you are a fan of the sub-genre horror underneath the very thin layer of mainstream horror, this will be for you. Casual audiences will probably be lost, but I hope they can catch up after the first act. Then again, some viewers might need to go through orientation first. Definitely worth a watch.

That will do for now.