Posted on Saturday, April 14th, 2012 by Russ Fischer
When Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho opened in 1960 it was carried into theaters on a wave of advertising that commanded audiences to keep mum about the story’s surprising elements. Thanks in part to that ad campaign, Psycho became a hit that changed horror films even as it legitimized them. The mainstream horror genre quickly developed around a codified set of tropes, character archetypes and specific rules that, fifty years later, are tiresome in their predictability.
Marketing for The Cabin in the Woods, from director Drew Goddard and his co-writer Joss Whedon, exploits some of that same “don’t tell friends how it ends!” PR mode. But that’s just a smokescreen. Goddard and Whedon aim to demolish the archetypes born in the wake of that early popularization of horror, and in doing so bring a sense of spontaneous fun back to the genre.
The pair succeeds spectacularly. The Cabin in the Woods is a blast. It’s a film for anyone who feels the spark has gone out of horror. This movie is clever and quite self-aware, and it has very specific ideas about what caused horror to fall into rote patterns. As they get around to explaining just how horror turned into what it is today, Goddard and Whedon give the audience a chum bucket full of the thrills it wants, but also argues that playing by the rules is the wrong way to go. Read More »