The Cabin in the Woods

By Mark Ramsey | 2012/04/21

As I write this, The Cabin in the Woods has a 92% “Fresh” rating over at RottenTomatoes which suggests to me most critics are smoking their fresh tomatoes rather than squeezing them.

Seriously, are you kidding?

“It’s meta!” they say.

More like meh-ta.

Does it upend every horror convention?  Yes, but in doing so it fails to appeal to anyone who wouldn’t be caught dead at a horror convention.

The Cabin in the Woods is overwhelmed by its far-fetched desire to be clever (not that I would know anything about that), and it includes the kinds of absurd twists that bend sense into nonsense and nonsense into meta-nonsense.  At the heart of this movie is the idea of human sacrifice, and no human will sacrifice more than the one who plunks down ten bucks for this flick.

Could it be that this movie is from fanboy wunderkind Joss Whedon, he of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and a variety of other shows that don’t last nearly as long and are chocked full of pretty young people delivering quirky, witty dialogue past each other because it looks great on paper or in a bikini?

Or even in a bikini on paper?

Why yes, yes it could!

Whedon routinely populates his projects with great actors alongside the truly wretched.  Amber Benson, anyone?  Eliza Dushku?  The great Richard Jenkins opposite the guy who plays Thor?  I’ve seen better acting in the audience for Judge Judy.

Normally I save my Bradley Whitford and Richard Jenkins movies for the Lifetime channel where they belong.  But Whedon has infused this multidimensional mess with Whitford, Jenkins, and enough unemployed characters from his failed series Dollhouse to staff every Abercrombie & Fitch in Beverly Hills.

Cabin has been on the shelf for three years maturing like a cask of balsamic vinegar, and with the same bitter aftertaste.  Maybe the thinking was this movie would play better in cobwebs.  Well, I’m here to tell you:  More cobwebs!

Cabin in the Woods has enough six-packs and hooters to earn an up-thumb from Roger Corman.

Into the cellar go the characters where they play with deadly antiques and discover an evil Latin spell, an REO Speedwagon song, and a character with a face made of teeth.  “Maybe we should have saved the teeth for the script,” said a pensive Whedon to no one in particular, which is exactly who will be in the audience for this movie.

Watch for stoner Fran Kranz who plays high like he’s Mr. Potter closing down the Bailey Building and Loan.

But high.

And Sigourney Weaver makes a cameo here proving that the desire to put food on the table can make almost any project look worthy.

This is the point where we learn this movie is all about “the ancient ones.”

“What, Sarah Michelle Gellar and David Boreanaz?” asked stoner Fran.

“The very same,” said Sigourney. “Now take off that ‘Every Time a Bell Rings, and Angel gets his Medical Marijuana Card’ tee shirt and help me cash this check before the studio changes its mind!

I have much higher hopes for Whedon’s upcoming The Avengers.  But first, he evidently needed to clean this Cabin out of his closet.

Jesse Williams … Holden
Richard Jenkins … Sitterson

95 Responses to “The Cabin in the Woods”

  1. Mark Ramsey says:

    At least the “characters” and the “actors” have that much in common.

  2. Michelle says:

    Huge horror buff here – and I didn’t hate it. I don’t think it deserves the hype that it’s getting, and I agree with a lot of what you’re saying. But hey, I thought the stoner was funny. He legitimately made me laugh. Out loud. In the theater. On a few different occasions. Genre deconstructions are a tricky thing to pull off, and while I don’t think Whedon knocked it out of the park, I also don’t feel like he struck out… Maybe he got walked? Too much baseball analogy. Anyway – I would much rather see a more worthy film make it into theaters – like Behind the Mask. Check out that one if you get the chance, it isn’t scary, but it is something special.

  3. Mark Ramsey says:

    I’d like to knock Whedon out of a park.

  4. jgs007 says:

    good review. I agree. movie was terrible. I was intrigued by the talk about the movie. horrible.

  5. jgs007 says:

    there were three people in the theater.

  6. Mark Ramsey says:

    Hence the expression “talk is cheap”

  7. Mark Ramsey says:

    Hopefully they were all either blind or deaf.

    Before the movie, I mean.

  8. Mark says:

    I’m not going to troll you, but I will say to anyone who might be taking your review too seriously “Go see the movie and make your own judgment.” No, it’s not some brilliant cinematic masterpiece, but it IS a hell of a lot of fun to watch if you aren’t the jaded type. I tend to dislike most of Joss Whedon’s work, but I have to give credit where credit is do. This is one movie that is complimented by his hit-or-miss style.

  9. Mark says:

    *where credit is DUE*


    Dude, if you don’t like horror movies, don’t go to see them! I really hope you didn’t get paid for this article because your sentence structure and arguments are lacking. Pathetic writing, you’re out of your element and you know nothing about the horror genre or what the film had to say.

  11. Mike says:


    I understand that you hated this movie- but most people didn’t.

    Why the hell did you spoil Sigourney Weaver’s excellent cameo? Or that we learn (late in the second act!) that the “ancient ones” are involved. Lame. You’re ruining great surprises for the majority of your readers, who will see this and love it.

  12. Mark Ramsey says:

    Well I mean Sigourney was in the cast list on IMDB, so as secrets go, that’s not one of the bigger ones. And I think references to “ancient ones” are vague enough to allow anyone likely to enjoy this to enjoy it, after they get done playing with their crayons and blocks.

  13. Mark Ramsey says:

    And on behalf of jaded types everywhere…


    Thanks for the note!

  14. Mark Ramsey says:

    If you enjoyed this movie then you are obviously a master of pathetic writing, so all I can say is thanks for noticing!

  15. Mike says:


    Kudos to your for hashing it out with your readers in the comments section. Most writers stay far, far away.

    Re: IMDB- You’re a film critic, you visit it all the time. I’m a film nerd, I visit it occasionally… I didn’t know that Weaver was in the film before seeing it, and was delighted by her cameo. I’d read a few reviews, one of them mentioned a big cameo appearance but didn’t spoil it.

    Re: “Ancient Ones”- Sure, “ancient ones” sounds very vague on its own, but in the context of your review you describe a major third-act plot point, and explain exactly when it happens- right after Weaver’s appearance. Lame.

    Re: “Crayons and Blocks”- Like I said, it’s cool that you do battle with your commenters here, but taking shots at people’s intelligence for liking a film is a Rex Reed move. According to Rotten Tomatoes 90% of your peers, most of whom are more respected and widely-read, are “playing with crayons and blocks.” One Rex Reed is more than enough, leave the lame jokes and plot-spoiling to the king of horrible reviews.

    I read some more of your reviews and enjoyed them- you have a very personal reviewing style, making jokes and talking about your own tastes- which is fine. I just think that giving away things like that is lazy writing- you don’t have anything interesting to say about your take on this movie, so you just tell us that you hate it then start explaining the plot. I’ve read quite a few negative reviews via Rotten Tomatoes, none of them spoiled any plot points or anything. This review reads like an amateur’s movie blog in comparison.

  16. Mark Ramsey says:

    The last time I was delighted by Sigourney Weaver, she was hypersleeping with a cat.

  17. TommyB says:

    If an actor or actresses name is on the cast list, his/her appearence is NOT a cameo.
    And if 90% of the (ugh) “respected” film critics liked it, there have to be 10% that didn’t. It’s just math.

  18. Mark Ramsey says:

    You mean like the math that dictates every Hollywood blockbuster loses money? Or different math? :-)

  19. DJ says:

    The Inn Keepers? That movie sucked and was all build with no finale. Boring as they come. Your worthless bashing review that tries so hard to me smart has more in common with The Cabin In The Woods that you realize. Keep practicing.

  20. DJ says:

    Your worthless bashing review that tries so hard to *be smart has more in common with The Cabin In The Woods *than you realize.

  21. Mark Ramsey says:

    To each their own. Keep practicing.

  22. Mark Ramsey says:

    So bored you had to write it twice.

  23. Steve C. says:

    “Finally, the 1% have their ‘Evil Dead II’” – Bloomberg News

  24. Mark Ramsey says:

    This movie will never EVER reach that level of cult status.

    Still, I get the joke :-)

  25. Matt J says:

    An interesting premise, poorly executed. There is absolutely NO suspense. Every scare is telegraphed. The acting is truly awful, even by horror movie standards. Good call on Kranz’s uninspired stoner. The movie redeems itself a little with the third act payoff. And there are a handful of good scenes that make me believe this movie could have been something more. In the end it’s just not entertaining.

  26. Mark Ramsey says:

    I agree completely. “Meta” is not a substitute for substance.

  27. TheDude says:

    I am interested in how you would fix the film? And please, don’t give me a cynical “hipster,” glib – response. It feels like you already had your mind made-up going into the theatre. (And when did Hipsters get the patent on being cynical?)

    You offer what you don’t like about the film – fair enough – but I would like you to show how you know more than the filmmakers. I’d like to see you deconstruct the film.

  28. Andrew says:

    Felt the need to comment in support of this review.
    I personally am not a horror movie fan but I do get and understand the genre, because this movie got so many good reviews I actually convinced myself to see it earlier this week. What a mistake!

    This movie was indeed awful and waaaaay to up it’s own ass. Make the characters extremely over the top and go wink-wink at the stage the handlers are building.

    For a previous poster to say that the final reveal was not obvious half-way through the movie is so weird to me. The handlers start spilling the blood from the first victim onto the stone slab and talk about how they have to appease the “thing” downstairs. COME ON!

    It was obvious what was going on.

    Seriously I don’t get the massive percentage, it is mind-blowing and I feel that the field of critics really do a casual movie-goer a disservice by saying this movie is worth the time. I can honestly say it is one of the worst movies I have ever seen.

  29. Mark Ramsey says:

    And the more time that passes since the movie came out, the more folks who agree with you and me.

  30. Mark Ramsey says:

    I would start with some dermabrasion and then give it a deep tissue massage.

  31. jdio says:

    Managed the first twenty minutes of the movie before going to rotten tomatoes to figure out why the hell this was so well reviewed. So glad to see that not everyone was taken in. The film is, as you point out, only superficially thoughtful, and doesn’t being to address the real cliches of the genre. The miscast 30-year old actor/models who play the “regular” college students–is that subverted? How about the tiresome tropes of race and gender? That unsmiling African American quasi-security guard who functions as the films “moral center” is about as cinematically fresh as a trucker’s ass-crack. The film mistakes recognition of the conventions of the genre as rich comprehension of them, and that’s it’s main problem. It’s not “meta” at all–it merely rewards gratuitous self-consciousness of the most obvious of horror tropes. I also love that we’re supposed to believe that these “college” students are actually smart. Hemsworth? Really? Now that would take some acting.

  32. Robert says:

    Textbook example of a reviewer who judges something based on other people’s reactions, rather than formulating their own (and, in this case, reacts against them), for the sake of being contrary. I think the vernacular is “hipster.”

  33. Fernando says:

    I’m wondering if you’re a troll or an actual reviewer who just has nothing else to do with his life so he reads and replies to every single comment on his review. If the former than well played, you have me fuming. If the latter, then develop a sense of humor and take things more lightly and maybe real people will start to like you. The movie was meant to be fun. I’m not surprised you didn’t like it.

  34. Mark Ramsey says:

    I’d rather watch you fume.

  35. Mark Ramsey says:

    I love that. You’re criticizing me for judging the movie on other people’s reactions, when most people LIKED this movie and I did not. That sure ain’t hipster logic!

  36. Mark Ramsey says:

    Yes, 30-year-olds. Real college students are hard to find because they’re all auditioning for reality TV shows.

  37. Adam says:

    Old chinese proverb. Reads :- “Haters gonna hate”.

  38. Mark Ramsey says:

    The word “gonna” is English slang and does not translate into Chinese.

  39. Jaycee says:

    Cabin in the Woods was one of the best movies I have ever seen. I would rank it up there with No Country for Old Men, Reservoir Dogs, and ET.
    I will never listen to Roll With The Changes the same way again. Also the Merman should get his / its own movie. What a fantastic film! I will buy the DVD – I only rented it, and I want to see it again.
    Your review is off the mark.

  40. Mark Ramsey says:

    Most experts agree that Cabin in the Woods are Reservoir Dogs are pretty much the same movie….except for the script and stuff.

  41. Wes4Les says:

    I understand that this movie is poking fun at various horror-movie stereotypes by including many of them in here (from the title itself, to the diabolical creatures shown, to the easy-to-spot “archetypes,” and situations such as “splitting up” vs. “staying together,” which was manipulated here by a nefarious organization orchestrating this whole deal, which is in itself, a cliche in films by now.)

    What I don’t understand, is why it’s garnering such rave reviews. The film starts off curiously, then becomes a bore and a chore to sit through. As has been pointed out, whenever things become the least bit tense, the camera cuts away to that corn-ball control room. “Hey, those little Japanese girls are winning, BOO!” as if we’re supposed to cheer their destruction (which must happen around the world in similar events to what’s happening in Da Cabin, in order to “save the world” from destruction.) Destruction by whom, you ask? Well, I won’t spoil that, but when you see one of the Destructors at the end, ask yourself why it and it’s comrades were so easily contained by a few rivulets of blood. If I’d been one, I’d be stomping around up here a long, long time ago.

    Some interesting effects, but Big Whoop. For $30,000,000 you can draw up all kinds of silliness on a computer for the Big Screen. “Baghead” was far cheaper and funnier and more suspenseful than this silly, oafish snooze-fest. This is a film for people who jump at loud flatulence, or scenes of young women leaning up against glass windows to peer into the gloom to see…to see…Justin Bieber, eek! A nightmare!

  42. Wes4Les says:

    I think the term you meant was “contrarion,” which is a term hipsters use to describe the views of people that run contrary to their own, such as failing to understand why anyone w/ half a brain cannot see what a silly, forgettable film “Cabin” is.

    If this is “intelligent” and “entertaining” to a lot of people, I want to know exactly who these people are and where they hang out, so I can avoid their suspect and shallow company in the future. This is an “okay” film at best; “okay” because that red-head was cute and the make-out scene involving the blonde and the stuffed-head of a moose (sorry, a platypus…wait, maybe I’m smoking pot from a coffee container, too) was suspenseful, in that I kept waiting for it to bite that dumb broad on the nose. Which would’ve been cliche’d, but somehow unexpected due to it’s very cliche’d-ness.

    I think the only well-known cliche Whedon & Co. didn’t throw in this turgid kitchen-sink of a film is the “silver flying brain sucking ball” from Phantasm, but there may have been one in that cellar, next to the Blu-Ray copy of “Prometheus” (w/ the deleted scenes that explain everything, squee!!!) that bores discerning movie-goers to tears.

    Hipster logic, a new oxymoron if I’ve ever heard one.

  43. Mark Ramsey says:

    I wish all logic could be hipster logic, but then again that’s a contradiction in terms.

  44. Mark Ramsey says:

    Honestly, Wes, you got me!

  45. Marc says:

    It had the same ending to an episode of Buffy. I guess only people who never seen Joss Whedon’s works before enjoy this movie.

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