Not a positive review of “The Cabin in the Woods”

Director: Drew Goddard

Cast: Kristen Connolly, Chris Hemsworth, Jesse Williams, Richard Jenkins, Bradley Whitford, Fran Kranz

Year: 2012

Having seen the blog world respond in such an overwhelmingly positive way to The Cabin in the Woods, I simply could not stay away from the discussion any longer.
As it is clear by the title of my post, I did not love the film, far from it actually. I cannot say I disliked it either, but in the midst of its atypical delivery and structure, I could not help but feel like something did not work for me.

To begin with, I believe much of the critical acclaim the film has received does not even stem from the film itself. I believe some credit must be given to a very smart promotional campaign, which emphasized the film’s unusual horror qualities, thus suggesting we would find originality and unpredictability in it. To me, the question we should ask is not whether the film is atypical or original if we compare it to most horror features (which it is) but whether it is a well-crafted piece that should not be analyzed or defined through the always limiting genre filter.

The Cabin in the Woods tries too hard to be off-the-norm, feeling a bit too self-conscious and coming off as an exercise at being different rather than one in making a good film.

I want movies to take my imagination to new and unexpected places, but I want film-makers to seduce me into it with a peek or with a mild suggestion. Instead, director Drew Goddard constructed an entire movie that feels like a commentary on horror films rather than a well-crafted piece that stands on its own merits and not on the failures of the many mindless horror flicks that Hollywood constantly releases.

Paraphrasing the eloquent words of A.O. Scott of the New York Times, the film is too ambitious, joined together on a web of loose ends, none of which is particularly surprising, funny or horrifying. Not once does the intent of the director and writer to be out of the ordinary dissappears, thus not allowing audience members such as myself to truly be inmersed into the story.

I have often found that the films I enjoy the most ride on one of the following:
1. Directors whose style and intent almost entirely blends and dissappears into the storyline
2. Or on directors whose hand and intent is so clear and ever-present that the story becomes just a vehicle through which to distill a particular vision.

Though The Cabin in the Woods falls close to the second category of films, not once is the intent other than toying with the rules of horror films, which in my modest opinion, is not enough to make a film great.

The Cabin in the Woods was hard to hate nevertheless. The satire of horror does have its pleasures, especially considering how much more mature and refined it is when compared to films like Scary Movie. While the horror, which was not entirely horror, did not really work for me, the chaos and sensory overload we are subjected to on the last act is incredibly entertaining to watch.

The Cabin in the Woods is a lot of different things but never truly something.

Rating: 3/5 (above average)


9 thoughts on “Not a positive review of “The Cabin in the Woods”

  1. I haven’t seen it yet but you made a very good argument for your rating, which I still think is positive.

    “…The Cabin in the Woods tries too hard to be off-the-norm, feeling a bit too self-conscious and coming off as an exercise at being different rather than one in making a good film.” That’s an interesting observation, perhaps under a more capable hand this could be more seamless as the concept itself is pretty good. I’m not a horror fan but the trailer actually looks intriguing.

  2. I can see your point Niels and a lot of people are saying this across the web. But I am still TEAM CABIN, I just love a bit of mindless fun. So what if it thinks it is clever, so what if it tries too hard…I find that even more endearing. Bless it.


    1. I couldn’t help but thinking about kids that do certain things just to stand out while I was watching the film. This doesn’t mean the kids are bad or rebels, but they just want to be noticed and talked about. I believe this is exactly what happened with the creators of The Cabin.

  3. I can see where you’re coming from. It does have this air of trying too hard but I honestly can’t help but love it. It’s about time a horror film tries too hard.

    1. I just don’t enjoy films where you always notice the hand of the creator, like the piece can’t speak for itself and the purpose becomes being different rather than being great.
      Different is not always a good thing.
      Having said that, I did give it an above average mark because I appreciate the fact that it tries to be something and that the creators thought about what they were making. This is not a mindless horror film, or comedy, or satire, however you may classify it under.

      Thanks for stopping by

  4. Your title had my attention and I JUST had to read your review.

    I see your point and in the end, perhaps the film is a comedy more than a horror.

    I was, however, surprised by your score after reading your title.

  5. I appreciated the fact that it tried to do something pretty ambitious. It had the potential to become outstanding and it did fall short for me, but it at least tried to reach a certain level. The fact that it tried and it wasn’t all thrown together to get a few scared jumps out of the audience is good enough for me to give it a 3/5.
    Plus there was certainly a cool factor to the whole thing that most films of the sort don’t have.
    Thanks for your comment

  6. Nice honest review Niels, your review was pretty close to ours as far as this film goes. It was good but certainly not the earth shattering film some of the hype would have you believe.
    reminded me of a live action adult rated Scooby Doo cartoon. Not that, thats a bad thing. 🙂

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