Friday, December 28, 2012

2012 in Film: The Cabin in the Woods

The ambivalence that I felt when I first heard of Cabin in the Woods, or when I think about it as a sum of aspects like its premise, its director, its alleged reason for existing, and so on, is approaching ontological. On paper, I cannot imagine anything in the world that would inspire more fierce ambivalence in me than a Whedonian sci fi horror film that thinks “torture porn” is bad.

The movie itself, on the other hand, I was pretty okay with. Which isn’t something I’ve been able to say about a Whedon property since Buffy probably, which I haven’t seen an episode of since I was like 12. So congratulations on that friend, and I hope Firefly fucks right off the face of the earth.

Let’s take a little trip to Wikipedia real quick, shall we?
Whedon described the film as an attempt to revitalize the horror genre which he, along with director/co-writer Goddard, felt had "devolved" with the introduction of "torture porn". He called it a "loving hate letter" to the genre, continuing:
On another level it's a serious critique of what we love and what we don't about horror movies. I love being scared. I love that mixture of thrill, of horror, that objectification/identification thing of wanting definitely for the people to be all right but at the same time hoping they’ll go somewhere dark and face something awful. The things that I don't like are kids acting like idiots, the devolution of the horror movie into torture porn and into a long series of sadistic comeuppances. Drew and I both felt that the pendulum had swung a little too far in that direction.
Now, aside from the fact that I remain unconvinced that there is such a genre as “torture porn,” especially given the fact that Hostel is basically a really shitty action movie and I barely remember any violence in it at all, and that’s supposed to be the ur-text of the genre from what I understand. And it’s exactly the sort of moralistic bullshit that’s that shit I don’t like.

That quote does describe pretty precisely why I can’t stand Whedon and would have seriously preferred not to enjoy the directorial debut of the Cloverfield writer. Just looking at the penultimate sentence quoted from Whedon; that three part list is atrocious. Aside from my already stated skepticism regarding torture porn, the things that Whedon lists as being awful about the horror genre are exactly what people complained about in what Whedon is claiming to be the Golden Age or whatever, and what Cabin in the Woods chooses as its template; early 80s slasher films. And even more than that, what he ends up doing is sucking any interesting critique right out of that format, replacing the oftentimes interesting female characters (if you choose to read them in a counterintuitive way) that these movies smuggle in with characters who have nothing even vaguely resembling interesting stories. It is, as I’ve said, shitty moralizing, and Whedon’s cod-feminism has been mocked elsewhere and basically fuck him, etc etc.

Once again, though, the monsters basically saved this film. Not the ones that pursue the characters for the bulk of the film, but the ones in the orgy at the end; redneck zombies is really really fucking unfunny. But movie monsters murdering security guards who are dressed up like the SWAT team fucking rules. And the supremely low regard I have for anything bearing Whedon’s brand made the nihilism of the ending a wonderful little surprise for me at least.

This is maybe the first movie that I find myself not minding that I am describing it in much more negative terms than I feel like I should be. Which seems to've been the case with basically every movie I've reviewed in the last week or so. The Cabin in the Woods is just so fucking clever, so fucking meaningful, which aren't bad things at all, in fact I often like them and get annoyed when people deny that they have affective power that goes beyond flattening, but at the same time, I mean fuck. Whedon you piece of shit.

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