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April 22 2012

(SPOILER) Discuss 'The Cabin in the Woods' - round three. It's the second week of release and some fans have now viewed the movie multiple times.

Previous discussion threads can be found here and here.

Finally saw it with a friend. Aside from the HP movies, this is the first movie since I was young that I've left absolutely giddy from. Holy gods I loved it.
Killer Bloody Unicorn! That is one of the many thousands of reasons I still haven't calmed down from seeing this on Thursday.
I'm so tempted to go and see it a third time!!
Thank you, Simon, for setting up another discussion thread, there is a lot about this movie that is worth discussing. I was really trying to focus when I saw it the second time on Friday, and I found that there was a lot I had missed; and that the beauty of the filming really holds up to multiple viewings! I was disappointed that I didn't see how the Intern, Tom Lenk's character, died... did anyone catch that?

I mentioned in the box office thread that I hadn't been convinced (the first time I saw the movie) that we were supposed to believe that any of this was real because one of the first injuries was Chris 'Curt' Helmsworth stabbed in the back, with an enormous knife, but he is able to pull it out without any real pain or inconvenience (no talk of needing bandaging so he won't bleed to death). BUT when he actually dies, I suddenly changed my opinion... seeing him bouncing off the barrier was really shocking, and of course the death of Jesse 'Holden' Williams was equally shocking/disturbing. So that I started to see the movie more seriously after that.... Right before everything goes completely nuts.

It was a film that kept changing my opinion about what was going on, and how I was supposed to feel about it all.

[ edited by embers on 2012-04-22 20:16 ]
Just saw it this afternoon. Really really enjoyed it.

I had hesitated going because I am not a horror fan. But having heard it was more of a comedy than a horror (and reading the spoilers-what?Shoot me!) I decided to go.

And am very glad I did. It was such a fun clever film. Me and a fellow Whedon nerd had a lot of fun pointing out the Whedon cameos (Fred!Topher!Andrew!) and although I knew the gist of it, I still managed to be surprised and scared at the appropriate points.

-the mid-level managers were hilarious. Shouting "fuck you fuck you and fuck you" to the Japanese school girls was a particular highlight. And I loved the whole "betting section"-these guys betting how the kids were going to die. Hilarious and disturbing in equal measure.

-The final 20 minutes lived up to an earlier description of being "bat-shit" crazy. I loved that they had all these monsters ready to go at a moments notice depending on what the kids picked. That ballet girl will haunt my dreams. *shudder*

- the denouement was interesting. It went against the usual idea of the heroes sacrifice. I can understand Marty not wanting to die. But did he do the right thing by damning the whole world. Well, no obviously, but it does tie in with someof Joss' previous work. Speaking of my friend pointed out that Buffy would have let the world perish instead of killing Marty, but Angel would have killed him for the greater good. What do you all think?
Yeah, I too found stuff more disturbing the second time around, mostly Jules' death: for some reason I was really uncomfortable and distressed watching that one, but in a good way (as in it was what the movie was aiming for). But the crowd on 2nd viewing were very disappointing; they DIDN'T laugh at the loud-speaker scene, but DID when Jules' decapitated head got thrown at Dana. I sincerely hope that by the end of the film they were re-evaluating their senses of humour and their views on torture porn. Probably not, but I can dream!
Saw it for the second time this weekend, and dragged my wife who absolutely hates horror movies. She didn't like the gore, but overall she thought it was funny and well done. She didn't really get the comments on the genre, as she isn't really familiar with the genre.

On a side note, there was a 6 year old little girl in the movies with us. Walking out she looked absolutely horrified.
Definitely worth seeing it twice in the theater (which I don't think I've ever done before). Besides noticing a bunch of details I'd missed the first time around, I felt more attachment to the characters the second time. (Which made it more disturbing.) I think that the first time I was so busy concentrating on what the hell was going on that I didn't identify with the kids that much. But this time, knowing what was going to happen to them, I really felt for them, and Marty's "We are not who we are" seemed much more chilling.

There were only about 10 people in the theater. Heard some appreciative laughter from one group. And the friend I took with me said, "What the hell did I just see? I think I need to watch that again."
@Dude Meister The audience at my cinema were exactly the same. I like to take horror seriously, and so when people laugh their way through horror movies it really annoys me. Obviously Cabin is a comedy too, but I took the horror side of it seriously (up until thinks went crazy of course, haha..)

I don't know if it's because I grew up watching Joss' shows, but I thought the dialogue was one of the best and funniest things about Cabin. Even Marty's line about the railroad had me in stitches - and yet nobody else in the cinema even chuckled.
I've seen it twice now. I don't watch slasher/horror movies as a rule because I'm too easily scared, but saw this one because, Joss. It was brilliant. A few thoughts:

re "hand of God", I was surprised because I was expecting a Cthulhuesque tentacle; I had forgotten that with Whedon, all the evil and all the good is fundamentally human, always.

re: the "innocent" member of the office crew, the straitlaced one who just joined and didn't join in the betting, dying too - the point was, I think, that he's not innocent. He may not be fully participating (betting, enjoying the show, dancing at the party), but he's there. He is facilitating the slaughter of the innocents. He has given his consent. He is all of us who think that by disapproving of a practice from which we benefit, we are somehow not complicit in it. But he's complicit, even if he disapproves. And so he dies.

Marty was phenomenal. But everyone did a fine, fine job.

I liked the escalating use of the line "let's get this party started." It's the implicit last line of the movie too of course. Not sure what to make of the fact that after being the spectacle throughout the movie, Marty and Dana agree in the last line that what they would actually have liked is to SEE the Elder Gods; to be the spectators, not the objects.

i thought the movie was an exploration of the same theme as "The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas". If the survival of a society is based on the sacrifice (and pain, and torture, and agonizing death) of some of its members, who have not volunteered, should society survive? If the sacrifice volunteers (Buffy), then okay. But if the sacrifice refuses to volunteer - hell no.
@faith in Angel - I think you've got it exactly right. Buffy would refuse to kill an innocent, even if the whole world ended as a result. Angel would - and in fact, did - kill an innocent (the Guardian) - for what he construed as the greater good. But Angel, in Whedon, is always wrong about that. If the solution is "kill an innocent", you have asked the wrong question.
@faith in Angel
Speaking of my friend pointed out that Buffy would have let the world perish instead of killing Marty, but Angel would have killed him for the greater good. What do you all think?

I doubt either would let the world perish.
I enjoyed it very much the second time. I noticed Morticia from the Addams' Family remake series this time (so it really was Vancouver.)

This time it reminded me of Torchwood: Children of Earth in its theme of sacrificing some for the many.
I saw this for a second time with my friend on Friday, this is the first movie I have seen more than once in the Cinema, and boy was it worth it.

I actually enjoyed it more the second time around, I feel like I was concentrating too hard during the first viewing, as I really wanted to *see* what Joss and Drew were trying to get across, and I found it easier to just sit and enjoy the fun, rather than try and pick the movie apart.

I read other peoples reviews (and a lot of them brought up some great points which I hadn't even though about) and with myself armed with more information I went into the second viewing knowing what I was looking for, and everything just seemed much more visible, and it made me appreciate how good the writing for this movie is.

I am currently reading the novel, and if anyone has doubts about reading it, I would definitely recommend it, I am only up to chapter 4 but already I am hooked. I think in some ways the book is actually superior, it's really nice to be able to get inside the characters heads, and the majority of the scenes i've read so far have more meaty information, that in my opinion add to the stuff we saw in the movie, rather than take away. There's also some killer one liners that should have been in the movie, I have actually laughed out loud so many times.

I've noticed that some scenes have been changed though, which you'll pick up on yourself when reading, again though, this doesn't take away from the original, and the changes i've read so far (minus one minor) are actually an improvement on what we saw in the movie.
Well, I'm glad that earlier threads explained "I learned it from you!" - not something that plays to a UK audience.

@faith in Angel - I think you've got it exactly right. Buffy would refuse to kill an innocent, even if the whole world ended as a result. Angel would - and in fact, did - kill an innocent (the Guardian) - for what he construed as the greater good. But Angel, in Whedon, is always wrong about that. If the solution is "kill an innocent", you have asked the wrong question.

Not quite so sure about this. In Buffy, if there is a choice between saving an innocent and saving the world, then you choose to save the innocent, and deal with the problem of saving the world later, by another means. But that only works because the writers allow it, by giving another way to save the world.

In Angel, the team want to make the same kind of choice when it comes to Fred - but the writers don't allow them that luxury: they are forced to choose the world over Fred.
My wife and I had the horror genre. Just hate everything about it. As someone who had a countdown to September 30, 2005, never scheduled anything for 8:00 Tuesday nights, and pre-order every Mutant Enemy DVD, this is the first Whedon-related item I am not excited for. Is there anyone who felt the same way I do, saw Cabin anyway, and just loved it? I probably won't see this in theaters, but should I see it some day? Not as a Joss fan, but as a horror movie hater?
Depends what you hate about them, CaptainB. If it's the formula, the lack of connection to the characters, the lack of awareness of how horrible it is to sit through all of this - then yes, you should absolutely see Cabin In The Woods. If it's the suspense, the blood splatters, or the mere idea of being stuck out in the middle of nowhere with invincible monsters gunning for you - then, no, you won't enjoy it. I personally am not a horror fan - the suspense makes me super-stressed and jumpy, the violence makes me feel a little ill and the lack of empathy for any of the victims is the nail in the coffin - but I loved Cabin In The Woods. So I guess even if you don't want to waste the time and money on a cinema viewing now, it'd be worth checking it out on dvd or tv some day.

mjwilson, I am completely with you regarding Buffy. Of course she'd choose to save the innocent victim, but she'd also always find a third way, a way to save the world and save the victim. It's the one way in which I feel the writing of Buffy's arcs never got as brutal as that on Angel's - there are plenty of times when those on Angel cannot make a good decision and have to make a judgement of 'least worst.' Buffy rarely, so rarely has to do anything of the sort. Usually sacrificing herself (in some way or other) is sufficient in that show. (And that's a lovely message too, but I like the unanswerable questions being asked on Angel and CitW. I've seen people calling Marty selfish, and I guess in the broad view he really is, but I just love that he refuses to accept an impossible decision and fights back against the world for forcing him into a position where he'd have to.)

[ edited by skittledog on 2012-04-22 21:57 ]
@CaptainB I generally dislike horror as a genre. Not exactly hate it - it is just not my cup of tea. I even tried to overcome this aversion by finding an online a horror-movie guide for beginners and watching the 'classics' like Jeepers-Creepers etc. Still could not get to like any of it. Saw the Cabin this last weekend - and absolutely loved it, simply because it is in a nutshell an anti-horror. It grabs everything that makes me hate horrors movies - and turns upside down by exposing the 'guts' of the genre and making you face the ugly in your own psyche. My secret wish in every horror flick was always to see the tables turned. Without spoiling much lets just say that I got it this time.
I'm sure some of us could provide lists of our top-10 Horror as a place to start that might prove instructive; Jeepers-Creepers (a world of no). If you didn't grow up immersed in that genre I'm not sure it would ever grow on you, or you might find a few (not of the slasher film variety) enjoyable. Horror encompasses a lot of sub-genres so there is a lot to choose from. I had related in another topic about CiTW that for about a decade, I won't watch anything anymore approaching torture porn, so this film made a big impact in reminding me just why it is I stopped; voyeurism/nudity/violence towards women/violence during sex, etc. etc.
To whoever can fix this, the "Discuss The Cabin in the Woods" link on the side of the main page still links to the second round.

EDIT: Thanks, fixed now.

[ edited by PaperSpock on 2012-04-22 23:14 ]
@CaptainB I felt pretty much the same way you did (big fan of Joss, but not of horror, wasn't sure if I should see it), and I enjoyed the film about as much as any Joss project. I don't hate all horror but do strongly dislike most of it. The rare exceptions of horror I do like include stuff such as Psycho, Rosemary's Baby, a lot of things written by Neil Gaiman, and of course Buffy and Angel (if you're counting that as horror) and now The Cabin in the Woods. So if you liked Buffy and Angel (as previous Joss work with horror elements) I'd definately recommend watching it.


Just saw it for the first time this afternoon and enjoyed it tremendously. I heard absolutely nothing going in, and for a few minutes I didn't know what to think of the cardboard characters in a Joss film. Immediately loved all the scenes with Bradley Whitford, Richard Jenkins, Amy Acker and the other corporate horror puppeteers though. I loved those three characters, these really were great villians with relatable motivations and the performances IMO were nothing short of brilliant. Greatly enjoyed Fran Kranz performance and character too. Thought they made a mistake when it seemed he was killed off so quickly and was glad that he didn't turn out to be.

When things started rolling the film completely won me over. Simply loved everything about the central concept, from the way it poked gentle fun of horror genre cliches to the hilarious setting it provided. There were lots of great scenes towards the climax of the film. Loved the cut-away to the failure of the Japanese sacraficial plot (the montage of the other failures could have been quite a bit more elaborate). And the shots with all the monsters in their cells and the chaos that ensuid were just phenomenal.

ETA: Now I'm off to read what you all (and other critics) had to say about the film. Hope you all enjoyed it as much as I have!

[ edited by the Groosalugg on 2012-04-22 23:23 ]
Did I just read "Jeepers Creepers" and "Classic" in the same sentence? I'd recommend "The Thing" (not the remake), "Halloween" (IMO the best "Slasher" flick ever made, or the Original "An Nightmare on Elm Street".
I note a lot of people have seen this twice, three times for me (two of them special previews), and some may want to see this again. That's why I think this is going to explode when the blu-ray is released, most likely aound Halloween. If they're smart, they'll have a special edition with free bong!
A short list that is not slasher films and different sub-genres: The Haunting (original), Don't Look Now, The Host (South Korea), Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978 version), The Others (Nicole Kidman), A Tale of Two Sisters (South Korea, the original), Alien (despite a monster, often called a haunted house story), The Howling (Joe Dante black humor mixed with horror), The Wicker Man (original), The Others (Tom Tryon film version of his novel with Uta Hagen), Interview with a Vampire (fine adaptation of Rice's novel. Tom Cruise is surprisingly good and the film oozes sensuality), and my M. Night Shyamalan favorite, Unbreakable (yep, I do consider this horror).

CiTW goes on the classic list for me, now.
"I am currently reading the novel, and if anyone has doubts about reading it, I would definitely recommend it"


May I ask how you were able to obtain the novelisation, since Amazon and Apple's iBookstore list it as being released on June 19?
@Tonya J, and Jelly - thanks you. I actually saw movies from your lists - Elm Street, The Host, Alien and Interview with Vampire. Somehow I never considered those pure traditional horror, maybe that's why I liked some of them. The flicks on my list were more like pure horror: The Amityville Horror/April's Fool and Jeepers, and I could not like any of these even though I seriously tried to understand the idea. (I know this sounds funny.) In any case - the thread is about CitW , not about horror as a genre, but I appreciate this discussion anyway.
Well, I think it's relevant because some viewers don't think CiTW was horror at all, or just had horror elements. There could be marathon discussions about what actually constitutes calling a film horror, or traditional, or classic (only Nosferatu and Dracula/Wolfman, or can Creature from the Black Lagoon creep into a discussion?).
@jettamesis - the novelisation came out in the UK back on the 13th April, along with the visual companion.
mjwilson - In Angel, the team want to make the same kind of choice when it comes to Fred - but the writers don't allow them that luxury: they are forced to choose the world over Fred.

I agree in general - in Buffy one can choose between good and evil; in Angel one can only choose between worse and better, or at least less worse - but in that example at least, it's because they're already in bed with the evil. Fred is sacrificed because free will; that is, because Gunn sold her in order to get a permanent brain upgrade. He didn't know what exactly he was signing but he did know it wasn't something good. The Whedonverse is very moral; that choice couldn't be re-taken, and its consequences couldn't be fixed. But it was a choice.

CitW plays with that idea - of free will, of "choosing to transgress" - but it's clear that the 5 sacrifices are doing something entirely different, in that their "transgressions" are not morally wrong (playing with a conch shell?) nor have they any reason to think they are.

I don't think Marty is selfish. I think the conclusion he and Dana come to in what is probably the last seconds of their lives (I really want a sequel mind you!) is one we are intended to at least think about as maybe the right one: "If this is the best we can do, maybe it's time something else got a chance." If our society cannot survive without the torture and sacrifice of innocents, it doesn't deserve to survive.
I wouldn't peg Unbreakable as horror at all, personally. My favorite horror movies ever would probably include in the top 5, but in no particular order, Wes Craven's New Nightmare, Scream, Poltergeist. The first two of those are actually the biggest reasons I just can't dig Cabin. Wes Craven already said all I think needed to be said about the intrinsic audience barbarity and voyeurism of enjoying the horror genre, between 10 and 20 years earlier, and actually managed to be scary while doing it -- downright terrifying in the case of New Nightmare. And what's more, I felt like I got to know the Scream characters, for example, a helluva lot more than I did the ones in Cabin, so I cared a lot more about them. And when they basically would do the exact same scene ("obligatory tit shot" in Scream/sex scene in Cabin), they managed to do so much more tastefully. There was a lot more overt cheesecake in Cabin, IMO. Leaving aside the breasticles, I mentioned on another thread about the peculiar and lingering display of Kristen Connolly in her panties, and while people had plenty of Watsonian justifications, there is still a Doylist reality that someone made the choice to do that scene. And then how about a minute or so of Anna Hutchison doing a stripper dance at the fireplace. This was an insightful deconstruction of... what now? I'm not above saying I felt that was a minute or so that was legitimately worth having spent money to see, but that's because I'm a box-dropping man ape thing. But I also was able to sort of smirk that this was not the sort of thing I should find in a movie that's supposed to be a sobering mirror for the audience and a deconstruction of yadda yadda.

But, the biggest sin is, of course, it's not that scary. It's hardly at all scary, in fact.

It has a lot of good things to it, I thought most of the dark humor was great, I thought Bradley Whitford was more entertaining in this than in anything I've seen him in, and thought his "oh, come on" was fabulous. The speakerphone bit was funny, all the "office space"-esque scenes. But I never managed to muster much emotion or interest for the presumptive protagonists because I didn't know them at all, I knew them far less than I knew other characters they were supposed to stand in for in other horror movies that took more time to develop them or distinguish them.

I'd give it a solid B, glad I saw it in a theatre, worth the popcorn money. I think I could tell most friends that it's fine to wait for DVD, though.
>>If our society cannot survive without the torture and sacrifice of innocents, it doesn't deserve to survive.

Yes, that was my thought exactly. A civilization of intelligent beings that in order to survive has to sacrifice its young for millenniums no less ! to Elder Horrors - and in process develop entire class/organization that feeds off the said sacrifices (these guys look perfectly normal and raise their own kids - but where from do they get their paychecks?) probably does not deserve to continue - or does it? Loaded question indeed.

Funnily enough the Hunger Games almost touches the same theme ( sacrificing the young) - but that was an entirely different take on it - which is probably why HG was a blockbuster. :)

[ edited by dorotea on 2012-04-23 00:35 ]
@jettamesis The U.S. paperback version was on sale April 17 (link). But while the ebooks are available in UK stores, in the US they don't come out till June 19. I'm guessing a slip of the keyboard. It makes absolutely no sense to release the ebooks 2 months after the movie is out. I've complained to Titan about it.
Hunger Games makes no mistake that there really is no ambiguity about the moral premise behind the Games -- it's an abomination. Cabin invites you repeatedly to really weigh the idea that maybe it's to the good that these people are sacrificed. It ultimately concludes not... well, so far as it concludes anything, Marty and Dana seem to end the world more out of a mix of ambivalence and fatigue than from a strong moral stance.

Season 8 of "Buffy" actually tread over a lot of the same ground, and treated as a real close call an idea that there really shouldn't be any serious discussion of. Season 4 of "Angel" with Jasmine did this, too. It's not really a serious discussion, all this 'kill thousands to save billions' jazz.
So, it's clear what most of the stuff they were playing with in the basement did (music box = toothy ballerina; conch = merman; diary = Buchners; puzzle sphere = hellraiser dude), but what did the necklace that Jules (?) was going to put on do? Any ideas?
It figures. When I want to find information it isn't there. I checked Drew Goddard's interview with the Daily Beast:

But we wanted to make sure that everything in the third act lined up with what was in the cellar, so you could understand the internal logicóif they play with this, it would lead to that guy in the background. You see Curt (Hemsworth) almost bring forth our Lord of Bondage and Pain with his puzzle box. We spent an ungodly amount of time worrying about that for something that flashes by in a couple of seconds.

But nothing about the necklace. Maybe the creepy masked people were stranglers.
Saw it again on Friday evening, where the theater was half full. It was nice having more than a handful of people there, because there was more of an audience response, and it was overwhelmingly positive. Lots of laughter. People leaving chatty, with smiles on their faces. It was obvious the people seated near me enjoyed the movie.

Upon my fifth viewing of the movie (which is so detailed, you wouldn't see everything there is to see in 25 viewings), I was giddy about the Dollhouse and Serenity references.

If I wasn't so broke, I would see it again, but I have to save something for The Avengers.
Finally was able to see this today!

First of all, everything about this movie was brilliant. It was so witty, and everything introduced had a point. JustÖ itís my new favorite movie. Easily. Itís amazing. I just canít even describe how good it is.

Amy Acker was in it, and Fran Kranz, and Tom Lenk, all people Joss has worked with before. Chris Hemsworth is in it, obviously, and Joss is working with him on The Avengers. I wasnít disappointed with anything they were given as actors. Amy is my favorite actress, and I was satisfied with the amount of screentime she got. Like in everything, she died, but hey ó who didnít die in this movie? Fran was amazing. More on him in a bit. Tom had a small role, but he was hilarious. Chris was great. His death was great. I knew something was going to happen, that he was going to die trying to make the jump, but I completely forgot about the force field.

So back to Fran and his character. Itís sad to think that I wanted him to die in the end, at some point. But thatís the whole point of this movie, really, right? You start to realize the good guys are actually the bad guys, to some degree. It depends on the viewerís point of view. You donít know if you want the government group to succeed, or if you want the protagonists to. It just depends on what you think is right. Personally, I was egging for Fran to die throughout most of the ending. I really wanted the girl to shoot him. That said, I did end up completely changing my mind. When I took a step back, and thought about it, what we were given was the best thing possible we could have been. In the beginning, Fran talks about how society needs to fall and start over, but weíre just too afraid to let it. That there is the entire movie theme. Weíre too afraid to let this great evil come up and destroy us, so we do the Ďlesserí evil, and kill people every so often. In the end, Fran does just what he thought was right, and thatís what matters. We were told the ending of this movie from early on, but no one realizes it. Itís brilliant. Again, it depends on the viewerís opinion on the subject though, and something tells me many people wonít like the ending, because most people wouldnít want the world to end. It takes a certain type of mind to appreciate the subject and how it was handled.

Now, back to the witty. Franís bong. Omg. It was something funny in the beginning, but it ended up saving his life how many times? And the merman thing was something funny throughout the whole movie, and ended up having a great payoff at the ending. Just, everything. Fran smoking pot made him immune to all the shit the gov. people were giving him. Again, something funny that actually had a point.

Another thing I like: ANY horror movie could just be in this movieís world. It could all be ran for this theme. This is a horror movie to end all horror movies, as it was described. Thatís exactly what it is, and it lives up to that title.

I wouldnít have expected anything less from Joss Whedon. Of course the concept of this movie was his, but Drew obviously deserves credit too. We canít be sure just what he wrote, but his directing on the film was great, for one. There were shots in this movie that made me just really stop and point it out to myself.

EVERYTHING about this movie is perfect. I really love how the ending scene is just the two friends talking, as the world ends around them. They both apologize for turning on one another, and thatís that. Because theyíre friends, and thatís what friends do. Friendship is more important than even the whole fucking world. Thatís what this movie is, and what it stands for.
I can't wait to see this for the second time on Tuesday! I'll be seeing it with someone who hasn't seen it yet, so I'll be able to watch his reactions, which should be fun.
ezzers, according to Joss Whedon's Afterword in the CitW Visual Companion book, Tom Lenk's intern character survives :)

lbowman, "The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas" - exactly! I knew I wasn't the only one still alive who'd read that!

Fred_Sonja, agree. The ending is a moral choice - to quote (or maybe paraphrase) "Angel," "If nothing we do matters, all that matters is what we do." You don't kill your friends and you don't reward people who have tried to torture you to death in order to save their own rear ends. Well, maybe you do, but not if you're Marty, or maybe even Dana. They are at least true to themselves. I was glad that Dana didn't kill Marty - I'm sorry Marty had the lapse that caused Dana to get mauled, but I think they had both passed breaking point by then.
So maybe Ronald the Intern gets hired by the Old Ones! Yoo Hoo!
Perhaps the Old Ones keep Ronald as a pet, much as Illyria wanted to do to Spike.
As we were entering the theatre last night a guy I didn't know said to me "The trailer looks like Evil Dead."

"It's supposed to," I answered. I wonder what he though of it.

I think Evil Dead should be required viewing before CITW. :)
The thing I don't get about Marty's choice is that it sounded, at least initially, that he wanted things to start over more or less--killing humanity with evil gods doesn't let that happen, as releasing the gods would seem to prevent new species from arising to create a better society. And then, even if a new society arises, there's nothing stopping that new species from having to make sacrifices to the gods. There's no guaranteeing what this new species will do, Marty and Dana have no control over this species, if it is even allowed to exist. However, if Marty dies and Dana lives, then he knows there is a chance for some real change if she can share her message. I mean, I'm still not sure what the world would do to end the sacrifice cycle, but I can't imagine tossing a few nukes down the evil-god-hole would have any worse of an end effect than not satisfying their demands.

[ edited by PaperSpock on 2012-04-23 05:25 ]
It seems pretty clear that Marty couldn't kill himself to complete the ritual and, once he and Dana knew what was going on, there was a very small time window in which Dana might have been able to kill him. We don't know definitively what Dana would have done, but it's more up to her than it is Marty. If she really were so inclined, she could have shoved Marty over the edge of the platform.
AH HA. There's a new Cabin thread. I was posting in the old one and it was dead, and I'm like "Really? no one has anything else to say???"

I may be new at this "technology" thing.
I mean, I'm still not sure what the world would do to end the sacrifice cycle, but I can't imagine tossing a few nukes down the evil-god-hole would have any worse of an end effect than not satisfying their demands.

Yep, that was a weak point to me -- why I said their decision felt more like just blithe, exhausted indifference and not a moral statement. Just lipservice, that. I don't even think that Marty should have necessarily sacrificed himself -- although it would have spoken well of him if it had at least come up, as a way to save Dana if not the world -- but they didn't do nearly enough to convince me that they let the world end on much other than it would have been all too complicated and strenuous to try to think up something else. It's hard to believe the same hands were involved in "The Gift" or "Not Fade Away".

In a far off time, we might have seen that the Ancient Ones were a complete disappointment, that they had never been anything to fear, that all that was truly evil was the thing done to appease them.

I got the novel from
I think, had Marty or Dana had a few nukes to throw down the hole, they'd have done it. I think previous scientists had not done it because a) killing 5 teenagers causes much less collateral damage, and that's their whole reason to exist and b) it's quite possible nukes wouldn't do anything except piss the gods off anyway. I think assuming they're all confined to one hell-hole (heh) under the American site is wrong given what we see of other countries' rituals - I assume they are basically dormant under most of the earth. So it really wouldn't do much.

And I really can't hold it against Marty and Dana that, after both being hunted by monsters all night and severely wounded and then told they are responsible for saving the world by killing themselves, they can't come up with a better 'how to save everybody' plan in under 8 minutes. No, I think it's perfectly valid to just go 'well, sod that for a game of soldiers.' Maybe still selfish, but definitely valid.
Just saw it this past Friday. Fantastic, awesome. I think CiTw is this generation's Scream...i.e. a metacommentary on the current state of the horror genre...but whereas Scream is an adoring love-letter, CiTw is a scathing indictment of the state of the art...lots of fun, lots of awesome cameos (particularly the one near the end...and how fitting...Alien is one of those few movies that stands in stark contract to the types of films Whedon and Goddard wanted to criticize with this work)...and it was such a joy to see Richard Jenkins again. Kudos Monsieurs Whedon and Goddard for a job well done...this was an awesome Pre-Avengers appetizer.
I'm planning on seeing this again. Not because I loved it, but because I didn'tÖand that makes me sad.

Hoping my heart grows fonderÖ.
By the way, the visual companion book is really great. It's absolutely packed full of photos, interviews, joss, drew and quotables. And the full script. It answers a lot of the questions people have, and I can't stress how cool the photos are.
Just watched it....And I loved it!!
It's a great movie! I liked that it's also criticize the whole reality genre, and how capitalism rules us. The only question is, are we the viewers are like the guys in the control room, or are we the angry gods that wants to be entertain.
Mine shipped Saturday, gossi, and I'm so impatient for it to get here. Titan does fantastic companions.
...and how capitalism rules us

Can you walk me past that one a bit slower? What about ritual sacrifice of the young in a consequentialist/utilitarian conspiracy to appease slumbering ancient demon gods, by some vaguely specified bureaucracy that is never expressly identified as public or private, is supposed to stand for capitalism? Maybe if Mordecai actually has to run his gas station for profit, that's the capitalist endeavour depicted in the film?
Mine just arrived today. Not had a read of it yet, but a flick through shows it to be a lovely looking book.

Interesting to see a lot of the pictures show Joss chatting to the cast. Not sure whether that is just for the purpose of the book, as maybe they thought the readers would be Joss fans, but I'm a little surprised that he seemed to have so much involvement with the actual filming.
I don't know that I would argue it myself, KoC, but I think you could probably make an interesting case for the idea that the ancient ones are consumers demanding a product, and that the corporation will provide it to them no matter what the human cost is (in this case, a bunch of young people).

It has some holes--as you mention, we never know if the project is public or private--but there's more textual support for it than a lot of theories you see.

ETA: And Vandelay, my understanding is that Joss was on set for just about every day of filming. He was a producer in the most active sense of that word.

[ edited by Jobo on 2012-04-23 20:24 ]
Can you walk me past that one a bit slower? What about ritual sacrifice of the young in a consequentialist/utilitarian conspiracy to appease slumbering ancient demon gods, by some vaguely specified bureaucracy that is never expressly identified as public or private, is supposed to stand for capitalism?

The part where you have people watching people die and betting on their life, all to satisfy the "gods" that rules the world... I think this movie criticize reality TV and the fact that we watch anything that the "TV gods" will air without questioning it than it does horror films... It criticize horror films too, of course, but that's just the way to tell the story.
Vandelay, Joss directed the 'second unit director' so in addition to being a hands on producer, he was also directing some scenes (when Drew was busy elsewhere).
The part where you have people watching people die and betting on their life, all to satisfy the "gods" that rules the world...

"... an economic system characterized by private or corporate ownership of capital goods, by investments that are determined by private decision, and by prices, production, and the distribution of goods that are determined mainly by competition in a free market." -- Merriam-Webster.

Or, put simply, the movie has eff-all to do with capitalism, or at least not as some great critique of capitalism -- even if it thinks it does, it doesn't. The only capitalism at work behind "Cabin" is standing in line for a ticket and for concessions and the good people at the movie theater and at the studio and production company going home with a paycheck for it. That's the kind that's why you've ever, frankly, been entertained by any movie, TV show, piece of music, or video game in your entire life; the kind by which those who bring that to you are rewarded for it by your choice to give them money in exchange for it.

Jobo, the relationship, such as it is, between the ancients and the bureaucrats (Ministry of Ritual Sacrifice -- I don't stipulate to the presumption that it's a private entity), is entirely extortive; there is no trade, there is no market place in which the ancients can go somewhere else for sacrifice or the bureaucrats can choose to appease something else by some other means for protection. It's not capitalist at all. Any transactional parallel you draw between that and the real world is also not capitalist.
There's a competition between the countries!...
If English was my first language I would explain it better, let's just say that you see it this way and I see it like this.
@Embers - Yep, I spotted that credit whilst in the cinema. Just interesting that the book seems to have more pictures of the Purple One then of Drew. Not sure whether that was an indication of how much involvement he had or whether it was just a decision of the publishers that most people buying the book would be coming at it as a fan of Joss.

It also makes me wonder if he was a little more hands on then just the usual second unit director (my understanding is they generally are only directing stunts and the like.) Would be interesting to know which sequences he directed.

@Jobo - Didn't realise he was on set for most of the filming, but does not particular come as a surprise. Adds a bit of weight to speculation that he was a little more than just a second unit director (not to take anything away from the fine job Drew as director.)
I think that it does criticize the consumers of media to a certain degree, but of a very specific media (i.e. the contemporary rise in popularity of the torture porn type of horror movie)...I don't think its an indictment of capitalism at all.
I disagree Phoenix012. There is very little (in fact, almost nothing) in the film that is reminiscent of torture porn films. It is playing off of tropes from The Evil Dead, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, etc. If it had of been about the imitators of Saw, it would have dated very badly in the three years it was sitting on a shelf, as those films have pretty much disappeared from the cinema screen, replaced by many more ghost films and imitators of Paranormal Activity. The films it is inspired by are classics and constantly recycled by the horror genre.

I would also disagree with your earlier point when you said "whereas Scream is an adoring love-letter, CiTw is a scathing indictment of the state of the art." I would say that Cabin is from people that clearly love the genre, even if they have some misgivings about certain directions it occasionally takes.
Even though Joss has repeatedly mentioned in interviews that that is indeed one of (if not) the thing he and Drew wanted to tackle in the script? In fact he mentioned in one interview that it was quite ironic that Lions Gate picked up the film...because they also distributed the Saw Films. For example:

Previously in the press, youíve spoken about your dislike for films like the Saw franchise. Is this in any way a response to those types of films?
DG: Iím not sure Iíve seen the Saw franchise.

JW: Those terrible Saw movies that Iíve seen a billboard for. You know, I do think thereís a bit of a trend in remakes, because I have seen some of those, of the 70ís horror movies where inventive killing became the thrill and actual horror fell by the wayside.

DG: Right, the fetishisation of the violence became more important than the terror involved

The interview is:
He doesn't say there that torture porn is the inspiration for the film. The interviewer asks about them and then he talks about remakes, which aren't really torture porn; they're just bad films.

Regardless, there is no replication of Saw-esque films in Cabin. They failed if that is what they wanted to do, but I really do not think it was as that style has no bearing on the traditional cabin in the woods film, so would be irrelevant.
Hmmm, except that cellar seems to be a place where torture happens...and that scene goes on to point out that that's where the zombie torture family inflicted pain upon their 'victims'. But regardless, it's a movie that invites many interpretations...and I think mine is supported by the text.
There is very little (in fact, almost nothing) in the film that is reminiscent of torture porn films.

I've got to agree. There is the iconic line, "They want to see us punished," but that's in reference to being "punished" for a "bad" decision, basically.

To me, the essence of torture porn is extended sequences of people experiencing pain followed by death, for not much more purpose than the sake of it. Example: Hostel. This movie has none of that. The two characters that do get it from zombies get it fast (in fact, one gets it so fast that he literally has no time to get scared).

There is reference to "The Virgin" needing to suffer. I could see how one might work that into a valid argument that torture porn is happening. But I personally disagree.
A cute comic about Cabin:
The Jules death is absolutely a commentary on torture porn.
It's something that came up many times in interviews over the years that Cabin was a reaction to films like the Saw franchise, glorifying in the inventiveness and brutality (ie "torture porn") of the kills rather than actually trying to be scary. Dana on the dock springs to mind... and I don't think it's coincidence that the "lord of bondage and pain" also happens to have SAW BLADES stuck into him...

Now my copy of the visual companion has just arrived. To revel I go!
How can Jules' death be a comment on torture porn? Unless the comment is "see? You can kill your victims in this more or less sanitized and ungraphic way, torture porn moviemakers!" Jules' death struck me as something that could have been broadcast in the 8pm hour on network television, frankly. It wasn't as graphic as a similar death in Sleepy Hollow, in fact, which was hardly torture porn. The most graphic, i.e. in terms of rating, part of the scene was the (pace "Scream") obligatory titshot.

Now, I would probably score Jules' death as closer to "brutal/inventive" than "scary", if that's a line, but it's not a lot of either. It could have been the cold open to an episode of CSI, honestly.

I would have imagined, I guess, that if Joss were going to actually take on torture porn, he'd do so by having an intended victim actually get bored of their byzantine mechanism of murder and manage to a) escape, b) kill themselves relatively painlessly and leave the murderer standing there awkwardly, or c) just snark about it.

I thought the indifference to Dana's life after they thought they were in the clear was pretty telling -- I mean, if these people had any soul, any decency whatsoever beneath all their rationalizations, if it's irrelevant if the Virgin lives or dies, why would the Virgin ever die?
KoC, Jules had just be naked, having oral sex, has her hand nailed, and then is decapitated by a, erm, saw. It's played to the control room atmosphere of having to "appease" people's "basic human needs".
I have to agree with KoC. As gruesome as Jules' death was, it was well in line with traditional horror movies of the Friday The 13th or Nightmare On Elm Street variety, and nothing compared to the torture porn of a Saw or a Hostel.

If it is a commentary about the need to appease basic human needs, it applies that critique to much more standard fare and not just or specifically to torture porn.
I'm not sure I'm qualified to comment on this, given that I don't watch torture porn, but Jules' death absolutely seems to comment on that desire to watch people painfully dismembered in front of us. The fact that it is not actually as horrible as it should be to be torture porn - well, no, of course it isn't. If you actually hate the idea of that (which Joss and Drew seem to, given the interview comments), you're not going to put that on screen. But you are going to go far enough to make it clear that it's weird to enjoy watching this, whatever extent it is taken to.
If torture porn isn't the target...I wonder then why the ancients don't just need blood or death. See? She also has to suffer...which is a key part of the sacrifice. The offering of blood is null and void, unless the victim suffers first...and if that isn't torture porn, I don't know what is.
And while Hellraiser, admittedly, is a higher quality of film than say the subsequent SAW sequels or Hostel...the S/M'ness of it could arguably be read as
gossi, I don't even like torture porn, it bores me if anything, but Jules' death really wasn't. Even the most mainstreamed torture porn movie ever made, Diane Lane's "Untraceable", featured more protracted, voyeuristic brutality. Jules' death was cut/cut/cut/cut/cut dead. You can't be that discreet about killing off a character, regardless of the method, and still be caricaturing torture porn.

The recent sex has nothing to do with it being or not being torture porn, by the way -- I think there are a lot of people misconstruing the presence of the word "porn" in that phrase. When people think porn, think "sex porn" -- actual porn is just "sex porn" -- sex in gluttonous, graphic, gratuitous excess. Torture porn is torture in gluttonous, graphic, gratuitous excess. And Jules' death wasn't particularly bountiful in either its torture, gluttony, graphicness, or gratuity*. Skittledog, I would hardly encourage embracing the genre, but I would almost invite you to at least google up some "Saw" or "Hostel" death scenes just to really capture the sense of scale of exactly how tame Jules' death really was. "Cabin" does for graphic horror movie death what the "Twilight" honeymoon did for graphic movie sex, frankly. Which are both valid life choices, but it does effectively exclude the idea that Cabin somehow is a commentary or critique on such violence; it only contrasts it by sheer absence.

*Ironically, given the Mutant Enemy brand, the most gratuitous stuff in the movie isn't violence, it's sex. Protracted underwear shot, protracted stripper dance at fireplace, protracted and inexplicable makeout with taxidermy, breasticles, etc.
It really was, for me. As with all things, these are subjective. Jules death was for the Cabin audience - literally.
Every horror movie death is for the audience; in Cabin, it's for the internal and external audience. But that fact alone does not torture porn make. Jules' death will require almost no editing at all to show on basic cable; that's why it's not torture porn, IMO.
Agree, Jule's death did not remind me of torture porn either. Perhaps this is just a subjective take on what can be classified as torture porn, a term that is a little vague anyway.

Personally, torture porn is about the absence of anything but violence. There is little to no character build up, no use of tension during scenes, no humour to lighten the mood nor any sense of exaggeration or playfulness with the depiction of violence. All there is is a graphic and seemingly realistic depiction of violent acts.

I could perhaps see how Jule's death could meet those criteria, but you don't see very much of what is actually happening and I've certainly seen far more graphic sequences in films that would not even be classed as horror.
We don't actually know that the elder gods are evil. We were told that, but we're explicitly given no reason to trust anything those people said.
Trivia: Did you know that creature/makeup house AFX Studios is co-run by Heather Langenkamp Anderson? Yes, that Heather Langenkamp. This would have been a great publicity angle.
The woman who probably had the most demanding role playing herself in any fictional film ever? Sigh, love Heather Langenkamp!

lbowman, the thing that occurred to me is that we have no reason to assume that they are invincible, which, in practical terms, matters more than whether we actually would know they are evil or not.
KofC, we know that they aren't invincible, because they have been lulled into a sullen slumber once already, with the regular sacrifice of innocents.

I want a sequel very much now, but it seems unlikely - it's been 3 years, wait, 4 years since they wrote it, I imagine they've moved on. But I would like a sequel with a surviving Marty and Dana in a postapocalyptic world ... yes, that's right: I want to FINALLY GET the last two seasons of Angel! Of which we were cruelly robbed.
It doesn't even really matter to me if they are invincible or not -- to me, the moral thing is to fight them, not to humor them. Even if you won't win, even if you can't win. If you're going to go out, go out as something worth having shown up for in the first place.

Honestly, the most satisfying part of that movie was Dana and Marty unleashing that horrible agency's toys upon it, because they so richly deserved it (of course, why even have that purge button? For what possible reason? It's as inexplicable as the chompers in "Galaxy Quest").

I'd have felt better about the movie if any part of that heroism, the refusal to cower before such creatures, guided Marty's and Dana's choice not to complete the sacrifice, but instead it was all about the nihilism of it (say what you will about the tenets of national socialism, Dude, but at least it's an ethos).
why even have that purge button? For what possible reason?

It's more cinematic than watching Dana and Marty figure out the control panel, then press elevator 1, elevator 2, etc..

The movie moves at a great clip. No wasted moments. I saw it again last night, and that kinecticness of it is why I loved it again the second time and definitely plan on seeing it again. I think it's going to become a favorite Halloween DVD.
Well, yes, but I was looking for something a bit more Watsonian in terms of why have a button that's sole purpose is to fill the elevator lobby with horrible monsters 8 at a time.
Something else that occurred to me on second viewing: the world ends not just because Marty and Dana's ritual fails, but because all the rituals failed. Young people all over the world refused to die like they were supposed to this time. That's an interesting thought in itself. It makes the movie about the entire human race, not just those 5 kids.
Is it time to add some new pictures to the top bar of the site?
There's nothing in the movie to suggest kids in the other rituals dud anything but happen to win. Nothing says they "refused" in the way Dana and Marty did.
There's nothing in the movie to suggest kids in the other rituals dud anything but happen to win. Nothing says they "refused" in the way Dana and Marty did.

I didn't mean it like that. I meant that for the first time in history, they all managed to not be sacrificed, however they did it.

You could say they all "happened to win", but I personally would rather believe that they all triumphed. We saw the Japanese schoolgirls turn the tables by doing-- whatever they did to that ghost. Looked like they came up with a ritual of their own somehow. And we saw on the monitors hints of how the other rituals had gone wrong. There was a burning building in one; I can't remember the rest. That would be a fun screenshot to analyze.

So, yeah. I look at it as a triumph of youth. Knowing Joss's work, it's not a stretch.
But if there are different gods to please in different parts of the world, even one team fails to succeed, the world should end, right?

I mean if Japan kids died, those gods would not harm the world. But they didn't die. So how come those gods didn't do anything? If we are talking about the same gods everywhere, then I'm sure at least 5 people would die in different parts of the world and add up to a satisfactory sacrifice ritual.

I have trouble totally understanding the logic behind it. Other than that, I loved the movie. I don't like horror films. I am too jumpy to see them in theatres. But I was laughing so hard to be scared and I agree, the movie was not scary at all. I was laughing at Marty when he got dragged out of the window, so I didn't get a chance to be scared. But I don't mind not being scared since I don't even like it.

I loved Fran in this. He is a great comedic actor. And I loved Chris and Kristen as well. The office scenes were great and I loved the cuts between them and the cabin. The pacing was great for me. Whenever I thought the Cabin scenes were too stressful, we got an office scene where I can think about the logic behind this non-sense and enjoy the story.

I really regret seeing the trailer since I already knew Marty was not dead. And I'd prefer if they didn't include that bird hitting the force field. Because if we saw that first when Curt died, it would up the stakes dramatically and shock the audience.

The creatures were great. Since I know Joss said that he doesn't like self-referencing; I tried not to look for parallels between this and Buffy/Dollhouse etc. But I'd be awesome to see The Gentlemen in this. The Merman was terrifying.

I didn't know about the SW cameo and I didn't recognise her voice either. So it was awesome to see her in this.

I am pro hand-of-god ending. Although I'd love a suggestion I read in the comments. It'd be great that even when the ritual wasn't completed, the gods wouldn't do anything. So all those sacrifices for all those years would be in vein.

[ edited by under rug swept on 2012-04-29 14:36 ]
Reading this thread has forced me to reconsider a few thoughts about the movie (especially the ending), so it's been some good food for thought. I was expecting Dana to pull the trigger and kill Marty (for that "somber, but saved the world" ending). Even when they decided to not follow the rules of the ritual, I wasn't expecting an apocalypse to come about (maybe they find some loophole, or maybe the Ancient Ones turn out to be duds). However, when that giant hand reached out before the last title splash, I knew that the movie couldn't have really ended any other way.

Like some of the other people here, I'm not a horror film person at all. I never quite understood the point of watching a movie just to be scared, and I too often found them upsetting because the whole movie (and the subsequent tragedies) could've been avoided if someone hadn't done something really stupid. But between the humor and the grand explanation behind every trope of horror films, I thoroughly enjoyed this movie (despite a few spook moments).

@under rug swept-- I totally agree with you about seeing the trailer ahead of time. When I saw the bit with Marty and Dana in the elevator, I not only knew that he survived his "death", but I spent a lot of time trying to figure out what the big twist was (was it all some sort of reincarnation/after-life deal?). On the other hand, I wouldn't have seen the movie without the trailer. Much as I love anything Joss touches, it was the twist of an underground bunker that convinced me to give this horror movie a shot.

As far as the Japan/international sacrifices, I took it to be that they were all part of a larger sacrifice, where any one success would have been sufficient (multiple projects to boost the odds of a success). But each country had its own ritual that had to be completed to a T in order to succeed- the Japanese one needed to have some/all of the schoolkids die, and the US one required the teens to die in a certain order based on their roles.
The visual companion actually clarifies this; There is a god per-region, but only one ritual has to play out properly. As long as one sleeps, they all sleep.
Saw the movie a few days ago and enjoyed it a lot! I found that Amy Acker's and Danny Strong's characters were surprisingly similar to Fred and Andrew - still haven't decided if that was a good or a bad thing. The entire sacrificial business would fit quite nicely in with W&H - perhaps we were indeed seeing an alt-Angelverse with (a non Illyriafied) Fred still working for the company together with a recently recruited Andrew. :-P

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