“Five friends go to a remote cabin in the woods. Bad things happen.”
Joss Whedon’s The Cabin in the Woods might hold the title for the most subversive movie tagline ever. As of today, it has held that title for 10 years. This means the film’s exaggerated carnage has marinated for a full decade in pop culture. After those ten years, it’s time to go back to the cabin.
The Cabin In The Woods was released on this day in 2012, grossing $66.6 million dollars in some sort of sick coincidence. The film revolves around a Chris Hemsworth-led quintet of intentionally generic high school stereotypes. Hemsworth’s Curt and Jesse Williams’ Holden are the group’s resident jocks.
Anna Hutchison plays off Hemsworth as Jules, Curt’s trophy girlfriend. Fran Kranz’s zany, offbeat energy as Marty is so extreme that viewers question how he got invited in the first place. Finally, Kristen Connolly’s Dana channels Laurie Strode, Ellen Ripley, and the legendary final girls of old.
The group arrives at the cabin and decides to investigate the basement where they inevitably find a collection of old, creepy artifacts. These artifacts turn out to be connected to a massive corporation’s bevy of science-fiction monsters kept in clear cubes underneath the cabin. The corporation controls everything that goes on inside the cabin, including which horrors will be unleashed upon its unsuspecting guests.
Why? The cabin serves as the vehicle for their annual human blood sacrifice to the omnipotent “Ancient Ones”’ who once ruled the Earth. Oh yeah, and to make things fun the corporation runs an office betting pool to see which monster will be inflicting the carnage this quarter.
One last thing, Sigourney Weaver cameos as the Director of the Organization who explains that the human sacrifice is to prevent the resurrection of the Ancient Ones who would take over the world as we know it. Yes, that all really happens in this movie. Also, Dana makes out with a taxidermied wolf head which is somehow the most frightening scene in an already scary movie.
The film is probably the most “going for it” movie I’ve ever seen. It feels like Whedon and Co. never said no to an idea and the product is infinitely better because of it. The juggling act between a grindhouse blood sacrifice, meta satire, and generic slasher should land somewhere in a cinematic circus.
Let’s put some of my takes into hidden underground cubes of their own. I’d like to think I was picked from the MMH version of the cubes to write this article, with the others housing the likes of Nate Mondschein, Nico Carter, and Zoe Novendstern. Happy to be here.
Is the whiteboard scene one of the 5 most-analyzed movie screenshots ever?
Let’s go through the list:
- Han shooting Greedo in Star Wars: A New Hope
- Brad Pitt in one frame of Deadpool 2
- Brad Pitt in many frames of Fight Club
- Rose laying on the door in Titanic
I like putting in the infamous whiteboard scene at #5. There’s just so much going on in too short of a moment. We see every monster up for grabs and which department bet on it.
- There are classic movie monsters; vampires, demons, werewolves.
- There are variants; zombies AND zombie redneck torture families plus witches AND sexy witches.
- There’s also a plethora of scarily vague unknowns; the scarecrow folk, hell lord, and… Kevin
The detail put in for this tiny scene is unbelievable and almost makes the whole movie.
Would FanDuel allow public betting on the cabin?
“Use code ‘CABIN’ for your first $100 monster bet risk-free!” What would the odds be? I have to imagine “zombie redneck torture family” had to be a +1000 underdog at least. They even note the distinctive rarity of the monster when someone thinks they won the pool by betting on generic zombies. “You had ‘Zombies’. But this is ‘Zombie Redneck Torture Family’. Entirely separate things.”
If I was a betting man, I would’ve foolishly thrown my money behind “mutants” solely because an argument could be made for every monster being some type of mutant. Werewolf? That’s man+wolf. Mutant. A giant is a large mutated human. Mutant. Unicorns are a combination of many animals, that’s a mutant. I’d be simultaneously setting myself up for failure and a ridiculous argument to have with my co-workers, but I’m ok with it. We can’t all be as lucky as Ronald The Intern.
Is this the best Chris Hemsworth movie/role?
We’re always going to associate Hemsworth with the Marvel Cinematic Universe and subsequent Thor franchise. But I think this movie takes the cake for his best—and it’s not really close.
Upon an IMDB dive, I was surprised to see how few movies Hemsworth has been in. His filmography is pretty limited to the yearly summer blockbuster as a basic Australian hunk, (Thor, Snow White, and the Huntsman, Blackhat). We’ve yet to see a stripped-down dramatic turn from Hemsworth, and maybe we’re better for it. Either way, The Cabin In The Woods is the best movie he’s starred in and clearly his best role.
Curt always holding or fidgeting with a football in most of the movie is one of the funniest subtle jokes I’ve seen and the fact that it’s never mentioned is even better. Nobody pulls off the golden retriever jock with a thousand-yard stare better than Hemsworth, and maybe Patrick Warburton.
Is this the best meta-movie ever?
The candidates: Being John Malkovich, Adaptation, Scream, Top Secret, Funny Games, etc.
As good as the movie is, it doesn’t come close to the heights of John Malkovich himself entering a portal where you enter John Malkovich’s consciousness. It’s not even the best meta-horror satire, with Scream holding that belt for 25+ years. I could get on board with it being the best meta-movie of the last decade.
I feel like a long written out analysis of The Cabin In The Woods almost undercuts what the movie is. It’s supposed to be campy with a heavy suspension of disbelief required to enjoy it. There’s still a place for fun-loving movies like this, but their turf is shrinking. Lately, it seems like films have an unwanted obligation to include some sort of emotional humanity or “purpose” in their plot.
Take 2018’s Tag for example. If it was made in the ‘80s next to cinematic romps like Caddyshack or The Three Amigos, it would’ve been a 90-minute ridiculous chase scene with a heavy dose of dry humor on top of it. Not to say that Tag doesn’t have some of these elements, but it chose to shoehorn in a tug at the heartstrings with Ed Helms’ character being diagnosed with cancer and using the game to prolong his friendships before he worsens.
The Cabin In The Woods never feels the need to do anything like that. It’s fun and complicatedly simple. It’s a movie made for fun, that seemed to have fun while being made.
Since 2012, none of the core five stars have done anything noteworthy with their film careers besides Hemsworth. The only other exception is Jesse Williams’ 12-year Grey’s Anatomy run until he was written off the show last May.
That said, the four might be destined for a lifetime of “that guy/girl from Cabin In The Woods.” That’s not a bad thing, but it might be one of the worst timelines that could’ve played out for the actors in the decade since the movie came out.
If you haven’t seen The Cabin In The Woods, watch it. Tonight. Making it to the end of this article about a movie you’ve never seen is impressive in its own right. But who’s keeping score? If you have seen it, pop it in again. Rewatch value is what’s kept this movie alive for the ten years since it’s been released. Every time I queue it up, I feel lured into the cabin once again, just like our main characters.
All that to say, we’re 10 years removed and yet we still can’t escape the cabin.