Says Whedon, “There’s some part of us, some deep, dark, primitive part of us that wants to sacrifice these people onscreen. I wanted to make a movie that explained why. And so it’s been a strange experience because on the one hand, we do straight up horror. We definitely love the genre and the tropes of the genre but at the same time we have a lot of questions about why and where it’s going.”

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Photo by Diyah Pera - Courtesy Lionsgate

Goddard adds, “The horror movie is merely the jumping-off point for the inherent questions about humanity that the genre suggests. Why, as a people, do we feel the need to marginalize, objectify, and destroy youth? And this is not specific to the genre, or movies in general, or our present-day culture. We’ve been doing this to youth since we first began as a people and this question—the question of why—is very much at the heart of Cabin.”

This is meaty stuff, meatier than most horror films would even attempt to confront, yet I don’t think Cabin in the Woods achieves its stated goal. The ritualistic aspect of the film is fun but overly familiar, the filmmakers’ attitude is a little too snarky, and the climax is so off-the-wall that it seemingly contradicts the thoughtful questions raised by its creators. Only the last few moments hint at the true darkness of their concept.

Is The Cabin in the Woods the greatest thing to happen to the horror genre, as some enthusiasts have claimed? I don’t think so. It’s a clever attempt to emulate, parody, and subvert the genre all at once—but it’s only partially successful.

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