Man, what an awfully generic title for an otherwise fantastic horror film. It is so generic that it almost explains the entire plot. Some hedonistic kids decide to go to hang out in a cabin that is, coincidentally, in the woods and it is haunted… for the most part. The trick with the title is that it provides a false expectation for a film that is a dangerous and funny satire about the horror genre. The writers Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard (who was also the director) are men on a mission to eviscerate the horror genre and The Cabin in the Woods is the glorious result.
Honestly the biggest downside of The Cabin in the Woods is that it is heavily reliant on twists, meaning it is difficult to write about it without “spoiling” details of the plot. So for that of keeping the vagaries intact lets spoil Scream instead. Both films are famous for their use of meta-fiction; in the case of Scream, the main characters are horror fans that talked about the rules of surviving in a slasher film. The rules include not having sex, never say, “I’ll be right back” and et cetera. Scream was a fairly solid film but it never exceeded beyond meta-commentary for the sake of humor. The film likes to talk about the rules but it hardly bends the rules, let alone break them. In contrast, Cabin in the Woods spend most of its time detailing the rules, victim archetypes, the monster, the creative process, and even it audience and uses the final act to absolutely destroy it all. Such devotion to detail and willingness to actually break the rule makes for a more enriching and purposeful film.
The conclusion of The Cabin in the Woods is when it truly reveals its brilliance because it calls out the interchangeable nature of horror films and utterly defies it. At that point The Cabin in the Woods changes from an ironic horror film, like Scream, into a post-modern statement about the stagnation of a once creatively prosperous genre. To describe it fully would spoil the fun beyond being an absolutely badass moment of imagination just pouring out like a bloody floodgate. It is a horrifying, ludicrous and funny moment that will make one wonder why nobody has ever tried it before, and importantly, how can anyone top it.
The Cabin in the Woods is a satire that deconstructs the horror genre so radically that it nearly renders the genre moot. This is a film that was lovingly written by two powerhouses that clearly wanted to bring imagination back to the horror genre. But most of all it is just a fun and wonderful movie to watch. Beyond being a grand statement the film is an insane and clever ride that will leave anyone giddy. Forget Scream, this film is the best meta-horror comedy of the modern era.