The Cabin in the Woods – sophisticated stupidity

The genre of horror films is the most self-referential one of all film genres. Ever since the nineties every horror film reflects its own genre with its characteristic twists and rules. Wes Craven`s Scream Series is paradigmatic for that and the fourth part tries to get rid of the metareflection to get back to the origin – wherever and whatever it may be. For Craven it is the real tragedy in its antique magnitude. Craven knows the nineties are gone, but whether the director of „The Cabin in the Woods“ Drew Goddard knows it too, I`m not so sure about that. The film starts with four young attractive people and one hashing nerd wanting to spend a weekend in a dark wood in an eerie cabin. Perhaps a commentary on exodus from the cities. But they are not alone, they hear voices and noises. In the cellar they find useful instruments for someone wanting to learn what fear is: instruments of torture, dolls, occult diaries, magic amulets and spooky garments. It shan`t be long and zombies are awaking and start to attack the five young holidaymakers.

But there is also a meta level. Besides the scenes in the wood we see a huge control center. It keeps the cabin and the wood are under video surveillance. In this center the staff produces a kind of reality soap with a deadly ending. The staff manipulates the cabin itself, the zombies and even the dwellers. As marionettes in a big play they are almost completely determinated. The director presents us a mixture of the Saw Series and „The Truman Show“ – well, nothing new. The control center and the workers in it signify the film industry showcasing horrible stories for our enjoyment. That is the self-referential criticism we all love today. But then „The Cabin in the Woods“ goes a step further. Attention, now spoilers will follow!

The film opens a meta meta level, when two survivors of the five reach a lift that take them into the earth, where they can see shadowboxes, each of them containing a different monster. The two realize the system behind the horror and then – I know it sounds crazy – they meet Sigourney Weaver, who is the director of the control center. She explains that the old Gods want it in this way. They want the humans to follow the conditions. The Gods are the guards of the genre rules: A virgin is allowed to survive, the floosies have to die and so on. The Gods want the male survivor to die and the young girl may live. If this does not happen, doomsday will come. Even so in the finale the boy and the girl violate the rules. They overwhelm Sigourney Weaver and so the Gods rise again out of the Earth`s interior. It is not only the end of mankind, it is also the end of the film. The assumption of „The Cabin in the Woods“ is, that in a quasi religios way the filmmakers believe in the commandments of the horror genre. That is the reason, why we currently see the same stories all over again and why with his film Drew Goddard tries to make a difference.

As a film critic I am allowed to open a third meta level: For me the story, the style, the thespian abilities and the two meta levels are merely dumb, that every interpretation would be too much of an honour. One could say to see the film on the third meta level, it is for freaky web bloggers not knowing what to do with their time. They can write treatises about such a stupid film and wonder about its allegedly thoughtfulness. The film begs for it and I am sure the bloggers will answer the prayer. Not me. I answer with Herman Melville`s Bartleby: I would prefer not to.

Leave A Comment