HUGHESY’S VERDICT ON WHY THE CABIN IN THE WOODS IS NOT THAT GREAT!
After my savage alternative review of The Woman In Black, I was hoping that one of my fellow Critics would take up the mantle of pouring scorn on a horror film that is doing really well at the box office but left them feeling rather cold. With The Cabin In The Woods doing great guns and with critical acclaim becoming more and more widespread, I thought that maybe Matt and Doc who were going to watch this film, may have come back with a different opinion. The Doc was less thrilled than Matt who praised the film and gave it a high score, but both appreciated the effort on show. Having read their both splendid reviews which you can read by clicking on the links below, I sighed and realised that it was again up to me to become the miserable bastard in the office and write a review that simply says The Cabin In The Woods is just not that good!
Its strange really because the film itself is designed for me personally to like more than the rest of the guys here at HCF. Long time readers will remember my review of Scre4m from last year that stunned many because I gave it four stars and it seemed I had to defend the film for many months with the many saying it was not that good! The reason I am bringing up the figure of Ghostface is that Cabin is desperate to do what Scream done too the slasher genre, a fun mix of all things Evil Dead that would hopefully blow the horror genre apart!
The critical acclaim is staggering for this film. Just looking at the trailer you will see the high praise quotes and five star ratings and I feel like I am spoiling the party because I really wanted to love this film. Films that bend the genre are way up on my list, I am one of the few who believe Wes Craven’s New Nightmare is a much better Freddy film than the original Nightmare on Elm St and the fact that the name Joss Wheldon was behind this movie made it even more of a delight because I am one of the biggest fans of the Buffy and Angel universe he created many moons ago! Even seeing the faces of Angel’s Amy Acker in the film brought a smile to my face because I loved her has Fred and if you look closely you will spot a well known Buffy face who played a pivotal part in bringing the evil Willow to the show. So yes all the ingredients were there, so why did the film fall flat on its face!
Well for a start I was dismayed at the trailer which suggested that the Cabin is not “a normal cabin!”. It was such an eye opener that it left me angry for months until I could finally watch this film but when I did, I soon realised that it was pointless getting so heated over a potential spoiler. You see, from the off we get the jist of the plot and I was quite stunned that the writers decided to show their hand this early. It’s only five minutes in that we know what that this cabin, is not a normal cabin and so it ruined all the surprise and tension straight away. What I personally would have preferred is if we got the normal cliche of hot teens jumping in their camper van and heading off to spooky cabin in the woods. Yes we all would have shouted “Evil Dead rip off!” but then when the film turns on its head, I and many others would have screamed “WTF!” and there the film would have gripped up and the intrigue would have set it.
Just look at the beginning of Scream to see how this should be done! The Drew Barrymore set-piece is still to this day one of the greatest set-pieces of Slash that is scary and original but plays by the rules of the genre. Wes Craven and Kevin Williamson were clever enough to know that what they were giving the audience because it enticed both camps. Here we had the scary horror for the more mature crowd and then move on to the fun element for the teen’s to lap up. Cabin fails this straight away because they set out for the fun brigade and ignore fans who want to hold on to their armchair in terror.
So what we have got here is a film sold as a horror film but its nothing of the kind. Of course this will do lovely for the date crowd and I can see why this appeals to many out there but for me it made me despair at the way mainstream horror is heading. Its hard for the die hard horror fans to find films out there to fill their need. I am sick of seeing the genre dumbed down so it will take loads of money at the box office and despite what you say, Cabin is dumb horror. Many say this is original but I am sorry Scream and the much superior Behind The Mask have played on this formula to better effect. Behind The Mask is one of those I can mention to prove my point. That film twisted the horror genre to full circle and is one of the underrated horror films of the last twenty years but got lost because it did have the financial clout of the much bigger fishes. It seems these days you need a big name attached to the film to get major selling points and it helps Cabin that they have the name Joss on the poster because it already sells to the his TV Fans.
To prove my point that Cabin is not as clever as it thinks it is, you need to look at the finale. No spoilers here, but I was told that I would be “Stunned” to see the surprise cameo at the end. Now being a horror fan and seeing the words….”cabin” and “woods” in the title then I would have put all my money on it being Bruce Campbell because lets face it, that would have been one of the coolest things the film could have done. The fact we had someone else, someone who is infamous in the horror field for a total different franchise that has nothing to do with Zombies and woods made me cry in despair. It made me ask the question “did the writers actually know their audience!”, because like the rest of the film, it lacked the film knowledge that a movie like Cabin needs to succeed.
Even their best intentions of playing homage to figures like Pennywise and Pinhead fell flat on its face because by then I did not really care what was happening among the chaos unfolding.
At the end of the day, I may be at the stage where I need horror to scare me. Fun horror is ok, but I would rather promote films like Alyce which deserves more acclaim and love because its devilishly dark and twisted and offers more to the genre than this film ever could. Besides if I need to see the ultimate fun comedy horror of people being attacked by zombies while staying in a cabin in the middle of the woods, then I will reach over for my copy of Evil Dead 2, which still is the daddy of them all……..
Check out the guys much better appreciation reviews here….