If you go into the woods today, you’re sure of a big surprise
Joss Whedon and debut director Drew Goddard have embarked on creating a unique horror experience that, much like Scream (1996), pays homage to the traditional form of the genre, whilst critiquing the tired conventions of its contemporary equivalent.The Cabin in the Woods reflects the originality Whedon fulfilled with Buffy the Vampire Slayer and it is so typical of him to bring a refreshing approach to a genre that has been done to a repeated, rather grizzly death.
From the beginning of the film Goddard and Whedon toy with their audience, establishing a formulaic narrative; a group of stereotypical American teens (jock, slut, nerd, stoner, virgin) go on a stereotypical off-the-map vacation and meet a stereotypical creepy redneck in the middle of nowhere who puts the frighteners on them. These genre clichés hint at another the run of the mill horror, but in fact, it is far from that. The contemporary horror mould is exposed and every single audience expectation is called in to question.
While some will be disparaged by the learning curve of the film’s more astute references to classic horrors such as The Evil Dead (1981) and Hellraiser (1987) alongside more contemporary offerings such as Cabin Fever (2002) and Wrong Turn(2003), those with a deeper knowledge of the horror genre will find a great level of appreciation. Viewers who enjoy second guessing the narrative before it unfolds, will have a field day, as the story is magnificent in terms of unpredictability. Whedon and Goddard set out to re-establish what audiences should expect from the horror genre and the message of their film is “don’t go into the cinema with expectations, you are merely puppets and we are going to rip your expectations apart to provide you with an unmatchable cinema experience.”