Austin Connection Movie Review – The Cabin in the Woods


I must admit that spoilers really bother me. If I’m interested in seeing a movie, I will do whatever it takes to avoid all trailers and reviews. I want a movie to surprise me. These days, if you watch a trailer for a movie, you can expect to see all the good parts from every portion of the movie, including the ending. For some movies, the trailer is a death sentence. Sure, you want to know a little about the movie, but sometimes even knowing the premise of a movie can ruin the experience. I would imagine that, for those who care, trailers are a difficult balancing act in that they try to get people interested, but they don’t want to ruin the experience. Then again, you also don’t want to mislead the audience. One woman sued the distributor of Drive because she was expecting a movie along the lines of The Fast and the Furious from watching the trailer.

Teenagers in a cabin in the woods, it sure sounds familiar...but there's the trick.

Just to prove to myself that trailers spoil movies, I watched the trailer for The Cabin in the Woods the day after seeing the movie, and I was right: The premise of the movie is given away, and quick cuts throughout the trailer give away many surprises. But not all is lost – if you have seen the trailer, you still have many surprises ahead. If you haven’t seen the trailer, avoid it like the plague. Now that my talk of spoilers is out of the way, I will say that in this review, I will not give away anything about The Cabin in the Woods. Instead, I will talk about what kind of movie it is and why you should watch it.

Mondo – the Alamo Drafthouse’s movie poster boutique – threw a pre-release screening for The Cabin in the Woods at the new Alamo Drafthouse location in Austin off Slaughter Lane. While the location sounds ominous, it’s the opposite of that in reality: it’s outfitted with some pretty swanky amenities like a separate side bar, leather seats, large tables, and a crazy lighting system. Of course, the event did more than just have a showing of the movie – included in the price of the ticket was a poster by Phantom City Creative that you could pick up after viewing the movie.

When searching for good horror, a dark basement is a fine place to start.

On to the movie: I’m one of those guys who loves horror movies. One of my favorite horror movies of all time is Evil Dead 2. This movie is one of those self-aware and somewhat campy B-grade horror flicks that loves to make fun of the genre. On the flip side of the coin, I cannot finish straight-up B-grade horror movies such as Quarantine 2. Movies like Evil Dead 2 are smart, know what they are doing, and can throw you for a loop because they know that you are expecting some kind of horror cliché that has been established by other horror movies in the past. Movies like Quarantine 2 are going through all the motions and don’t realize that you already know what’s going to happen and are bored to tears. Put it this way – watching a good horror movie is like seeing a great original band; watching a bad horror movie is like watching a really bad ’80s cover band.

A friend of mine went to see the original Halloween movie at the Drafthouse a few months ago, and he was telling me how bad the movie was. People are bored with seeing horror movie classics like Halloween because they know what to expect. It’s been done a million times before. The thing is, movies like the original Halloween set the standard for horror movies afterward. When it first came out, it blew people away because they were not expecting that kind of movie at all. As such, you have to keep setting the bar higher for horror movies and not do what was liked or popular before; otherwise, your audience is not going to like the movie at all. To be good, horror movies have to unsettle you and go beyond your expectations and do what has not been done before.

The trailer would have gone here but it’s filled with spoilers.

This movie was supposed to be released back in February of 2010, but due to studio financial problems, it was delayed until 2012. 2010, wow – this film feels brand new! The Cabin in the Woods was written by Joss Whedon (the guy behind such shows like Firefly and Buffy the Vampire Slayer) and Drew Goddard (the guy behind the love-it-or-hate-it Cloverfield). Drew also directed this movie. These two guys were tired of watching the same ol’ “torture porn” form of horror movies, so they decided to make something quite a bit different and fun for once. If only this movie came out back in 2010, we would have seen more horror films follow suit toward the type of film that would evolve the genre. Hollywood needed some kind of film to get the horror genre out of the rut it’s been in. Then again, someone will have to be very creative to set the bar even higher over what The Cabin in the Woods has done – to not do so would be to bore the audience once again. The Cabin in the Woods is one of those movies that thankfully sets its own standards while riding on your expectations of what a horror movie is. It is a self-aware B horror movie with lots of humor, and I think it is awesome. Oh, and the poster that came along with the event was cool, too, and is thankfully spoiler free. Check it out below; it’s Phantom City Creative’s best movie poster yet.

I give the event and movie 5 out of 5 Nerdskulls.

The poster created by Phantom City Creative for the Alamo Drafthouse/Mondo showing of The Cabin in the Woods:

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