Heard the hype, avoided spoilers, and saw the film with friends who are not horror novices. These are savvy people who know what ELVES is and who have Dawn of the Dead timeline photos. And our reaction was, "Well, that was a good flick." BUT then I get home and see fulsome praise spurting from every blog in my blogroll (the much-missed Emma Blackwood proves the rule exceptionally). THE CABIN IN THE WOODS, like Obama and Google Wave, is going! to! change! everything!!!!
Let me be clear. I liked CABIN IN THE WOODS and I think that you should see it if you like horror movies. It's imaginative and well-executed with lots of fun twisty-turns to keep the crowd-minds busy. And it's peppered with nods to horror, but not in an obnoxious SCREAM way. But the reaction is a little baffling. People are lining up to anoint this movie with oils and lay frankincense and myrrh at its feet. It always seems weird when similarly novel horror movies like ABSENTIA and LEFT BANK get practically ignored so everyone can take the hot-girl-movie to horror prom. That is a perfectly good analogy.
Like, is the genre so destitute and bankrupt of fun that we have to always be on the lookout for game changers and redefining works? Even given that CABIN is well-constructed, is the concept good enough to sustain a million billion derivative works? That certainly wasn't the case with SCREAM, which essentially declared horror dead, then birthed a glut of shitty greed-driven babies before BLAIR WITCH came along and tore up horror's death certificate. Trust me, nobody is tireder than me of seeing zombie movies that are basically and boringly the same zombie movies I've seen a hundred times already. But lots of people seem so eager to get over traditional horror and move on to some post-horror, urbane-sophisticate thing. I don't really get why. I don't especially think originality should be the primary concern of creative people (I like most of the Lookout bands, even though they are just doing the first Ramones album over and over). What's striking is that if CABIN does set off a wave of highly-meta, "post" horror movies, it will basically be part of the same cycle of imitation that happened with BLAIR WITCH (found footage), SAW/HOSTEL (torture pawrn), and SCREAM. A trendy trend.
CABIN IN THE WOODS deserves to be watched and applauded for its merits. But it's hard to evaluate something objectively when it's raised up a multinational cheerleading section who think it's the greatest thing ever because it's frightfully new. I think that some time will have to pass before we can really say how important the film is, whether it's as special as a unicorn or as commonplace as popcorn.