Review: ‘Cabin in the Woods’ misses the mark

Cabin in the Woods

By Rachel Ambelang

For the past week, the only movie title I’ve heard anyone talking about is “Cabin in the Woods.”

No one would tell me anything about it, only that I had to see it immediately. It’s been quite a while since I’ve seen so many people excited about a film that isn’t based on a novel or comic book series, so I dashed to the theatre to see what all the hype was about.

Now, I must apologize to all my fellow film-goers for the following statement: I didn’t like it.

I know, I know. With the ridiculous amount of both critical acclaim and audience approval this movie is getting, I’m the odd man out. The even more ridiculous part is, I don’t think it was a bad movie. I know that seems contradictory, so let me explain my dilemma.

“Cabin in the Woods” did a great job of creating a hook in their trailer without giving much away. The story follows a group of five college kids out to a secluded area of the woods where they plan to spend a weekend getaway.

Great setting for a typical horror movie. Only the trailer goes on to flash images of a control room, and gives glimpses of the ways in which the five kids are manipulated throughout the film.

So the immediate question is, who is behind the controls, and why would they want to force a game of horrors on these students?

Obviously, I can’t give that away. I will, however, say that I was genuinely impressed with the answer because it was definitely not what I was expecting.

I couldn’t wait to see where the movie would go with the idea and that is why I came out of the theatre disappointed.

I went in excited to see a fully fledged horror picture and ended up watching a semi-comedy, semi-science-fiction movie with a few scares embedded in it. It was like seeing a horror spoof that was marketed as a real horror movie, but I couldn’t decide which one it actually was.

That being said I did laugh at the jokes, I did jump at the scares, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with mixing science-fiction and horror, because that’s been happening for decades. It just wasn’t the film I was expecting or, more importantly, particularly wanted to see.

The basis for the film was perfectly molded for the horror genre. If they kept the focus on the terror aspect of the story, I might have watched one of the most unique horror movies created in a long time.

Instead, I got way too much focus on a pothead. Marty (played by Francis Kranz) is one of the five students, and is introduced with a three foot long bong hanging by his mouth.

As a character, Marty is necessary to the story. In fact, leaving him as a perpetually stoned conspiracy theorist would have been perfectly acceptable, especially since Kranz played the character so well. But the amount of humor he brings totally changes the atmosphere of the film.

While he was funny, Marty not only minimized from the effect of more than one suspenseful moment, he diluted the overall impact of the story.

There’s a line that exists between small moments that relieve an audience of the intensity of the film and actually creating a comedic tone.

It seems as though “Cabin in the Woods” was an elaborate attempt to balance the two emotions well, but I simply don’t think the filmmakers pulled it off.

I am all for comic relief. I’m also all for people trying new ideas and/or genre hybrids, but unless the horror movie is a parody, I just don’t think horror and comedy can be mixed well.

Either comedy or horror has to win out and, for me at least, the laughs were definitely what I walked out of the theater remembering, not the scares.

So, I don’t agree with all of these critics claiming that this movie will redefine the genre.

In the end I think this movie will be remembered as a humorous film with a clever idea, not as a horror film. This sentiment, for someone who was ready to see a unique and fantastic horror movie, was disappointing.