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“Cabin” Log

April 16th, 2012

(Note to you first-time visitors: Welcome! I just learned that io9 posted a link to my blog thanks to the “whiteboard” image below. I went from 631 hits yesterday to 2,222-and-counting today. I just want to give credit where credit is due; I found that image on the Twitter feed of one @johnfalvey, and reposted it here just to help disseminate it. So, thanks for stopping by. Hope you enjoy what you find here.)

The first weekend gross is in for The Cabin in the Woods, and while the $14 million+ take isn’t bad, the “C” CinemaScore is terrible. It means that Cabin is very much a love-it or hate-it experience, with lots of “F” ratings balancing out the stellar reviews and fanboy raves. It’s ironic (or perhaps the opposite of ironic?) given that the film is all about what happens when “the audience” doesn’t get what it wants. And apparently the audience wanted what the title and non-spoiler description promised: five kids in a cabin being butchered, without all the meta-commentary and betting pools and system purges.

And now, some random observations…

(TOTAL SPOILERS AHEAD. STOP READING NOW IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN THE MOVIE.)

First off, this is not my image, but I know that a lot of folks have been looking for a clear shot of the “whiteboard” and I’m here to help.

Not sure if all of these made it into the film. Both the “Deadites” and the “Angry Molesting Tree” are references to the Evil Dead films, and the “Hell Lord” may be the Hellraiser-inspired creature listed in the credits as “Fornicus, Lord of Bondage and Pain.” Anyone want to guess what “Kevin” is?

I like that there’s a distinction between “Witches” and “Sexy Witches.” Also that no one is sure whether one monster is a Sasquatch, a Wendigo or a Yeti.

There are some on-screen creatures that didn’t make the betting pool, notably the scorpion-like killbot and the tentacled thing that grabs Amy Acker. Pretty sure that I saw a giant centipede in the “zoo” shot. (A book called The Cabin in the Woods – The Official Visual Companion is being released tomorrow. Perhaps it will give a full accounting of the menagerie.)

One thing I didn’t mention in yesterday’s review was my appreciation of the film’s moral ambivalence. From a certain point of view, the staff of the murder factory are actually the heroes of the story, trying to save the world from ancient evil. It’s the resourceful “final girl” who dooms humanity by refusing to stick to the script. And yet, how can we root for the folks who have casually manipulated so many young people into gruesome deaths?

I was initially disappointed that the final shot of the Ancient One was of a humanoid hand and not a squamous, Lovecraftian horror. In hindsight, I get it. It’s one final horror trope: the hand bursting out of the earth ala Carrie. It also supports the metaphor that the Ancient Ones demanding blood are us.

Something I’ve been mulling: how many movies conclude with the end of the world and everyone in it? (Thus discounting post-apocalyptic stories as well as disaster flicks like When Worlds Collide and 2012 in which enough people survive to build anew.) In the Mouth of Madness comes to mind, and one could make a case for another John Carpenter film, Prince of Darkness. In the nuclear Armageddon category, there’s Dr. Strangelove, On the Beach, Beneath the Planet of the Apes* and (arguably) Miracle Mile**. I haven’t seen it, but I understand that Melancholia doesn’t pull any punches. Then there’s 1977′s cheapie End of the World, in which the Earth explodes in the final shot. You don’t get any more certain than that.

*Yes, Cornelius and Zira get away, but that’s not until Escape from the Planet of the Apes grants them a get-out-of-apocalypse pass.

**We can never be sure if anyone actually makes it to Antarctica.

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