Pose yourself this question before entering the world of Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard via The Cabin in the Woods; how many horror films can you remember beginning with two desk jockeys getting a cup of joe discussing the mundane?
Confused yet? Or are you just beginning to question the natural pattern of most horror films, in relation to the material within this film?
The movie isn’t psychologically disturbing, but it causes a few questionable insights as we watch. Our five key players are assembled and head out to the killing fields. The Virgin, The Fool, The Athlete, The Scholar and The Whore. The audience has an audience in this type of narrative- what meta fiction is all about since Shakespeare’s Hamlet put on a play for the King and Queen… The Cabin in the Woods is a deliberate meta narrative of human sacrifice.
Orchestrated by an evil global corporate conglomerate (yes this has been done before in Whedon’s/Goddard’s work, Wolf, Ram & Hart ring a bell) our five human sacrifices enter, pour themselves a drink and play truth or dare. They are given a choice in a dark dank cellar as to how they die. Bets are taken by the office staff as to which evil/magical thing enters the scenario- unicorns and mermen amoung the options. The latin inscription read aloud from a turn of the century diary wins out, selected by The Viirgin. The evil zombies arise out of the earth to do what they do- dismember and destroy.
The highlights include, but are not limited to: A vending machine wide shot of every kind of creepy homicidal evil monster thing imaginable, all those creepy things being systematically ejected via elevators to massacre the evil organisation and an evil rant being projected on speaker phone for kicks. Sigourney Weaver appears to pursuade the Fool and the Virgin to self sacrifice to save the world. This culminates in the Fool lighting a medicinal cigarette and passing it over to the Virgin, watching the end of the world come about. Our Fool gets the best line ‘I had to dismember that zombie with a trowel- what have you been up to?” Did I mention the Unicorn?
For those expecting a traditional horror movie, don’t. Instead go in with a sense of humour and the expectation of extreme gore and 18A material. For those who get the joke- you’ll enjoy what you’ll find in The Cabin in the Woods- a smart tongue in cheek critique of the genre and social system that perpetuates the need for figurative human sacrifice.