If you spend a lot of time on the internet (I do), talking to geeks (yep) and following actors who are also geeks on Twitter (guilty), you should cast your mind all the way back to April. You may remember some people hysterically sobbing “Joss Whedooooon” and gesturing wildly towards the cinema. That’s not all that unusual for Whedon fans, but this time it would have been because, after 2 years of waiting, Cabin in the Woods was finally out. Which was fucking excellent – except that I live in Australia and while everyone in the U.S was being subjected to Whedon-based feelings/torture, we in the Land of Oz weren’t even sure we were going to get a cinematic release. Last night, I finally saw Cabin in the Woods, but before I launch into my feelings (!!!!) about the film itself, I have a little preamble I want to get through:
Admittedly, this film had a pretty checkered history. It was originally shot in 2009 and was slated for release in early 2010. Then the 3D craze hit and they bumped it back to January 2011 so that they could convert it. But then we had that whole big problem with MGM imploding (by which I mean, it went bankrupt) and unsurprisingly, the release date was delayed again. It was then shopped around as one of the last pieces from MGM’s “old regime” and bought up by Lionsgate for distribution. It eventually premiered at SXSW in March 2012 and was released nationally in the U.S on April 13. And that’s JUST the U.S release. With a backstory that troubled, asking distributors to release Cabin in the Woods in Australia was apparently equivalent to asking them to give a mainstream cinematic release to an obscure Polish film in Fijian cinemas. In short, they weren’t keen.
Roadshow, who own the distribution rights here, announced that they were going to release it straight to DVD. Australians were outraged… or the small portion of the population who gives a shit about this kind of thing (i.e. online geeks) were outraged, anyway. Normally I’m not super on board with online outpourings of angst, but they kind of had a point this time around. While Cabin in the Woods hasn’t made absurd amounts of money at the U.S box office, its release here comes in the wake of some serious Whedon-love. I’ve already spoken about The Avengers‘ record-oblierating figures – the mainstream cinema-going public is aware now more than ever of Joss Whedon and his merry band of players. The fact that Cabin also features Chris Hemsworth pre-Thor is obviously another major drawcard. Aside from being the studly, handsome star of The Avengers (a small film, maybe you’ve heard of it?), he’s also Australian and one of the few successful Home and Away alumni. Had they been willing to put the money into promotion, Roadshow probably could have gotten the Australian cinema-going public to fork out their cash for Cabin in the Woods purely based on the fact that they had recently seen The Avengers. Instead, thanks to some seriously dedicated online campaigning, Roadshow finally agreed to a very, VERY limited cinematic release – like, 4 cinemas nationally doing a week-long run. And that’s how I ended up in a classic old cinema with barrel-vaulted ceilings on a rainy Tuesday night. That’s it. That’s the preamble. Now, ONWARDS TO FEELINGS!!
I have been avoiding spoilers for this film since March… MARCH, PEOPLE!! With a high speed internet connection and a Twitter feed, do you have any idea how hard it is to avoid all the random clever bits and pieces that people post online? I couldn’t even look at screen-shots, man! But I waited. And boy, was it worth it. I’m calling it now and saying that Cabin in the Woods is the best film I’m going to see all year. What’s that you say? There’s another 6 months left on the calendar? And a whole bunch of awesome blockbusters to be released between then and now? I DON’T EVEN CARE! Wait… The Hobbit comes out this year, right? Alright…sorry. Provided The Hobbit doesn’t suck, Cabin in the Woods is pretty much going to be the best and most clever film I’m going to see all year. Because this shit is fucking excellent.
Now, I know I usually do a bit of a break down of bits and pieces that I liked about the film or whatever but I’m not really going to do that here. The film is so clever and so elaborate that there’s no way that I could mention anything without fucking up the whole thing for everyone. And unlike certain other recent films (cough, Prometheus, coughcough) this one is actually worth waiting for. This is normally where I would put the trailer, but they recut it before it was released and it was kind of spoiler-ish. Instead, have a nice generic screen-shot, while I see what I can do about not ruining the entire film:
Looking at those kids, you probably think you’ve seen them before. More than likely, you have – these are the five stock characters from any good slasher flick: the jock, the nerd, the slut, the prude and the loveably stoned comic relief. I bet even now, you’re mentally picturing which order they get picked off in. I can tell you now that you’re probably wrong, because this is film is not what you’re thinking. It’s clever. Horror is a favourite for this kind of meta playing around because the tropes are so obvious and consistently reproduced. The Scream movies are a great example (seriously… a really good example, you should definitely go watch them again) and Tucker & Dale vs. Evil is worth a watch if you’re looking for something more recent. Everything that you expect to happen does, but not for the reasons you think it’s going to. By the end of the film I’d laughed, thrown my hands in the air and hidden behind the chair. It was an epic adventure.
There are sections of the film that feel contrived, but as more of the plot unfolds you realise that everything has been chosen for a very specific reason. Every single section where you’ve rolled your eyes or snorted derisively is part of a grand design. It’s amazing. I fell completely and utterly in love with this film. I can’t even articulate all the reasons that its excellent, but it is. And it’s a damn shame that more people aren’t going to get to see it.
TL;DR: Cabin in the Woods finally got a (limited) theatrical release in Australia. I saw it. It was awesome. You should immediately seek it out. Here’s the trailer if I haven’t convinced you: