Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Movie Review #25: Cabin in the Woods

I had heard good things about Cabin in the Woods and wanted to watch it for a long time, but I've always had problems with horror movies. Even horror movies that aren't terribly horrifying, I'm still probably just not going to like it. Silence of the Lambs was an exception.

My one requirement was to have someone to watch it with me, so I got Laura to watch "just the first few minutes" with me, which naturally turned into watching the whole thing. Short review: this movie is bonkers; strange in many ways, but mostly in good, unexpected ways. If you've never seen it, watch "the first few minutes" and see if you can stop. More than likely, you'll get dragged in by the premise.


There is very little I can synopsis about this movie without spoiling it, and leaving out the spoilers makes it seem like exactly as generic as the trailers made it seem.

A group of college kids plan to spend a weekend at a cabin in the mountains near a lake. What they don't realize is that the whole thing is set up to kill them by a mysterious government agency, but for what purpose?


This movie is about sacrifice, in every sense of the word.

The movie paints a horrifying picture, and not in the way that you would expect based on most cabin-in-the-woods scenarios. The scary thing about the woods is usually the idea that we don't have control out there: something beyond our comprehension or ability to fight. Often it's a story about how humanity vs. nature devolves into humanity vs. itself as the victims fail to work together, even fight each other.

On its surface, Cabin in the Woods is a bit comforting: all that nature, all of the unknowns about living in the woods, are actually completely under the control of what appear to be completely sane, even likeable humans.

However, that creates a whole new type of horror: the realization that humanity is doing this to itself, and the reason why isn't revealed until the end.

Regardless of the reason for this sacrificial exercise, though, it's just as horrifying to think about as the ancient human sacrifices depicted in the opening credits: people are killing each other out of their own self-interests, whether it's for a good harvest or another year without awakening eldritch horrors. That humanity exists on the backs of the sacrificed makes you wonder if humanity deserves to exist at all.

The funny thing is, though, that in many ways we do exist on the backs of the sacrificed. How much do we, as a civilization, rely on the back-breaking labor of people less developed than ourselves? It's sickening to think about, but much of our food, technology, and clothes are coming to us from people who can barely maintain themselves, if at all. And that's not to mention the non-human sacrifices we make: how many cows and chickens die every day just to feed America? They're bred, fed, and dead, their whole existence designed to fuel this machine of humanity.

The most frightening thing isn't that there's an edritch horror that will awaken without sacrifice; it's that our civilization runs on sacrifice all on its own.

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