The Cabin in the Woods
|The Cabin in the Woods|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Drew Goddard|
|Produced by||Joss Whedon|
|Written by||Drew Goddard
|Music by||David Julyan|
|Editing by||Lisa Lassek|
|Studio||Mutant Enemy Productions|
|Distributed by||Lionsgate Films|
|Running time||95 minutes|
The Cabin in the Woods is a 2012 American comedy horror film directed and co-written by Drew Goddard and co-written and produced by Joss Whedon. Kristen Connolly, Chris Hemsworth, Anna Hutchison, Fran Kranz, and Jesse Williams portray five friends who travel to a remote cabin for a holiday and become victims of a seemingly stereotypical horror movie plot while being observed via hidden cameras by mysterious office workers.
Goddard and Whedon, having worked together previously on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel, wrote the screenplay in three days, describing it as an attempt to "revitalize" the slasher film genre and a critical satire on torture porn. Filming took place from March to May 2009 on an estimated budget of $30 million, and was shot in Vancouver, British Columbia. More than 60 artists worked on the effects before filming began.
The Cabin in the Woods premiered on March 9, 2012 at the South by Southwest film festival in Austin, Texas and was released in the United States on April 13, 2012. The film was both a critical and financial success, receiving positive reviews, and featured on Metacritics best films of 2012 list. The Cabin in the Woods went on to gross over $65 million worldwide.
Technicians Gary Sitterson and Steve Hadley prepare for an operation, one of several taking place around the world, while joking with fellow technician Wendy Lin.
College students Dana Polk, Holden McCrea, Marty Mikalski, Jules Louden, and Curt Vaughan go to a remote cabin in the woods for a vacation. The technicians control the environment the group are in from afar and give them mood-altering drugs to make them more likely to venture into the cellar and do something that will lead to "punishment." The drugs gradually reduce the group's intelligence and awareness, and also increase their libido. After entering the cellar, the group discovers a large assortment of items, including a diary by Patience Buckner, a girl abused by her sadistic family. Reciting an incantation from the diary, Dana inadvertently summons the zombified Buckner family.
Curt and Jules, influenced by more mood-altering drugs, go outside to have sex. The Buckners attack the lovers and kill Jules, but Curt flees to the cabin and informs the group of Jules' death. Marty, who frequently smokes marijuana, becomes paranoid, and believes they are being manipulated. Discovering a hidden camera, Marty thinks that he is on a reality television show, but is attacked and dragged away by Judah Buckner. Holden, Dana, and Curt attempt to flee in their RV, but the technicians are able to trigger a tunnel collapse in time to block their path. Curt attempts to use his motorcycle to jump a ravine in order to escape only to crash into an invisible force-field and fall to his death. Realizing that something is unusual about the environment, Dana becomes convinced that Marty's worries about them being manipulated were correct. While driving back to the cabin, Holden is killed by Father Buckner who has been hiding in the RV. The RV falls into the lake and Dana swims away, only to be attacked by Matthew Buckner on the dock.
The technicians celebrate the completion of the scenario, but a phone call informs them that Marty is still alive. Arriving at the dock, Marty saves Dana from Matthew Buckner. He reveals that he dismembered his assailant after being dragged away, stumbled upon a hidden control box, and was able to access an underground elevator. The technicians realize that Marty is immune to their drugs because of his marijuana use. Marty and Dana take the elevator down to the lower levels of the facility, passing a variety of imprisoned monsters (which are parodies/homages of classic movie monsters). Dana sees one of the monsters holding an item that she remembers seeing in the cabin's cellar, and she realizes that the items in the cellar determine which monster will be released. A security team then corners her and Marty, but she uses a button in the control station called "System Purge" to release the monsters, which massacre the facility staff. Hadley, Lin, and Sitterson are killed in the carnage. Dana flees to the lower levels of the facility with Marty.
Discovering a temple adorned with large stone tablets, Dana and Marty meet the Director. They are informed that the scenario is to appease the "Ancient Ones", beings who live beneath the facility and are kept in perpetual slumber through an annual pars pro toto ritual sacrifice of five young people who embody certain archetypes: the Whore (Jules), the Athlete (Curt), the Scholar (Holden), the Fool (Marty), and the Virgin (Dana). The order in which they die does not matter, as long as the whore is first and the virgin is last, and her death is optional, as long as she suffers. Should the Ancient Ones awake, they will destroy the world. The Director reveals that rituals around the world have been taking place for the same purpose, but each of them failed. The Director urges Dana to kill Marty to complete the ritual. Dana draws a gun on Marty, but is attacked by a werewolf while the Director fights with Marty. Patience Buckner arrives and kills the Director before Marty pushes them both into the pit of an Ancient One.
Marty forgives Dana for threatening to shoot him. The pair accepts that it might be better for another species to take humanity's place if this is the price of its continued existence. Marty and Dana light a joint and hold hands as the gigantic hand of an Ancient One rises up, destroying the facility and the cabin.
- Kristen Connolly as Dana Polk. Connolly commented on her character: "I like that Dana is a regular person who doesn't start out thinking that she's really a bad-ass. She's just a regular kid whose strength comes out of her love for her friends and out of necessity...it's definitely more fun to be really dirty than to have to worry about looking really pretty."
- Chris Hemsworth as Curt Vaughan
- Anna Hutchison as Jules Louden
- Fran Kranz as Marty Mikalski
- Jesse Williams as Holden McCrea
- Richard Jenkins as Gary Sitterson, a technician that works at the Facility
- Bradley Whitford as Steve Hadley, a technician that works at the Facility.
- Brian White as Daniel Truman, a security guard that works at the facility.
- Amy Acker as Wendy Lin, a technician that works at the Facility's Chemical Department.
- Sigourney Weaver as The Director, the leader of the Facility.
- Tim de Zarn as Mordecai, the "Harbinger" who works for the Facility.
- Jodelle Ferland as Patience Buckner
- Matt Drake as Judah Buckner
- Dan Payne as Mathew Buckner
- Dan Shea as Father Buckner
- Maya Massar as Mother Buckner
- Tom Lenk as Ronald, an Intern that works at the Facility.
- Heather Doerksen as Accountant
With an estimated budget of $30 million, principal photography began on March 9, 2009 in Vancouver, and concluded in May 2009. Joss Whedon co-wrote the script with Cloverfield screenwriter Drew Goddard, who also directed the film, marking his directorial debut. Goddard previously worked with Whedon on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel as a writer.
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.
Concerning the sheer number of creatures to be designed and made for the film, AFX Studio's David LeRoy Anderson estimated that "close to a thousand" people were turned into one of around 60 different monster types. The task necessitated renting a much larger facility to use as a workspace, as a crew of around 60 people were recruited. The producers told them to commence work on December 15, 2008, ahead of the official January 1, 2009 start date. They only completed the work by the March 9, 2009 production date because, as Anderson stated "We had nearly seventy people at peak, but in effect we had a hundred and forty people, because everybody had at least two jobs...it was crazy, but people had an incredible time...none of us are ever going to forget it, and we're never all going to be in the same room again."
The underground complex, elevators, and the control room were all sets, but for several wide shots, the British Columbia Institute of Technology's Aerospace building was used. Production designer Martin Whist referenced Stanley Kubrick and commented: "It's very high-tech industrial, and it's a brand new building, never been shot in before...I wanted [the elevators] to be without any controls...to almost feel like a glamorized freight elevator...The lobby I wanted to look slightly utilitarian, contemporary and institutional...sharp and almost characterless." Goddard called the control room "mission control at NASA", with production design aimed at grounding the room's look in the reality of governments and institutions.
The Cabin in the Woods was slated for wide release on February 5, 2010 and then delayed until January 14, 2011 so the film could be converted to 3D. However, on June 17, 2010, MGM announced that the film would be delayed indefinitely due to ongoing financial difficulties at the studio.
On March 16, 2011, the Los Angeles Times reported the following: "New (MGM) chief executives Gary Barber and Roger Birnbaum are seeking to sell both Red Dawn and the horror film The Cabin in the Woods, the last two pictures produced under a previous regime, as they try to reshape the 87-year-old company." A distribution sale to Lions Gate Entertainment Corporation was announced on April 28, 2011, with some industry news outlets reporting plans for a Halloween 2011 release. On July 20, 2011, Lionsgate announced that they had acquired the distribution rights to the film and set a release date of April 13, 2012. Goddard described the deal as "a dream," stating "there's no question that Lionsgate is the right home for Cabin...you look at all the films that inspired Cabin - most of them were released by Lionsgate in the first place!"
Home media 
In June 2012, Lionsgate announced that The Cabin in the Woods is scheduled to be released for Blu-ray in North America on September 18, 2012. The Blu-Ray features an audio commentary by Goddard and Whedon, a documentary about the making of the film, and a question and answer session at the WonderCon convention.
Box office 
The Cabin in the Woods earned $42,073,277 in North America, along with $23,829,690 in other territories, for a worldwide total of $65,902,967. It is currently the 66th highest grossing film of 2012.
The film opened in North America on April 13, 2012, opening with $5.5 million and went on to gross $14.7 million in its opening weekend in the United States at 2,811 theaters, taking the number three spot. The Cabin in the Woods closed in theaters on July 12, 2012 with $42.0 million. It is currently the 58th highest grossing film of 2012 in North America. In total earnings, its highest-grossing countries after North America were the United Kingdom ($8.5 million), France ($2.4 million) and Russia ($2.3 million).
Critical reaction 
The film review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reported a 92% approval rating with an average rating of 7.8/10, based on 225 reviews. It offers the consensus: "The Cabin in the Woods is an astonishing meta-feat, capable of being funny, strange, and scary -- frequently all at the same time." On Metacritic, the film achieved an average score of 72 out of 100, based on a rating of 40 reviews, signifying it "generally favorable reviews".
Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave a positive review of the film, saying that "The Cabin in the Woods has been constructed almost as a puzzle for horror fans to solve. Which conventions are being toyed with? Which authors and films are being referred to? Is the film itself an act of criticism?" Ebert gave the film three out of four stars. Peter Travers of the Rolling Stone gave the film three-and-a-half out of four stars. Travers said the film was "fiendishly funny". Travers also praised Kristen Connolly and Fran Kranz for their performances, and would later go on to say that "By turning splatter formula on its empty head, Cabin shows you can unleash a fire-breathing horror film without leaving your brain or your heart on the killing floor." Lisa Schwarzbaum of Entertainment Weekly gave the film a "B−" grade and said that "The movie's biggest surprise may be that the story we think we know from modern scary cinema — that horror is a fun, cosmic game, not much else — here turns out to be pretty much the whole enchilada."
Conversely, Betsy Sharkey of the Los Angeles Times believed that the film "is an inside joke" and also said "The laughs [in the film] come easily, the screams not so much." David Rooney of The Hollywood Reporter remarked, "It’s just too bad the movie is never much more than a hollow exercise in self-reflexive cleverness that’s not nearly as ingenious as it seems to think." A.O. Scott of The New York Times said, "Novelty and genre traditionalism often fight to a draw. Too much overt cleverness has a way of spoiling dumb, reliable thrills. And despite the evident ingenuity and strenuous labor that went into it, The Cabin in the Woods does not quite work."
Awards and nominations 
|Saturn Award||Best Writing||Drew Goddard||Pending|
|Best Horror or Thriller Film||Pending|
Alongside this Titan Books released the mass market paperback The Cabin in the Woods: The Official Movie Novelization, from the author Tim Lebbon and creators Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard. The book also mentioned some monsters and representations of real world fear that aren't in the film like a Dog-Headed Alligator, Cracked-Skinned Lava People, Exploding Shard Babies, a Fire-Mouthed Woman, a Giant Rabbit, a Man with Steaming Pipes in his Chest, a Minotaur, a Monochrome Woman, a Scorpion Stinger Woman, a Screaming Banshee, a Six-Armed Man, a Woman with Snake Pubic Hairs, a Three-Headed Child, a Toxic Ghostly Figure, and a Vagina-Toothed Woman.
Popular culture 
- Originally, the video game Left 4 Dead 2 was supposed to also include a downloadable content where the Cabin and the Facility from this movie were going to be included. However, the project dissolved after the film's original production company MGM filed for bankruptcy. Drew Goddard commented on what the downloadable content would have included stating: "The game was gonna be amazing. You were gonna be able to play in both the upstairs Cabin in the Woods world and the downstairs 'facility' world with all the monsters. Believe me, I HATE all video games based on movies, they always suck, but porting Cabin into Left For Dead felt like the right fit. It pains me that it didn't happen."
- The Cabin in the Woods was parodied in the Robot Chicken episode "Immortal" (which was the Season 6 finale episode) with Dana Polk voiced by Krysten Ritter, Curt Vaughn voiced by Zeb Wells, Jules Louden voiced by Dreama Walker, Marty Mikalski voiced by Breckin Meyer, and Holden McCrea voiced by Seth Green. Curt Vaughan, Marty Mikalski, Holden McCrea, Jules Louden, and Dana Polk arrive at the cabin which is run by a secret facility that Seth Green, Matthew Senreich, and Zeb Wells work at. Seth Green remotely activates the doors to the basement which contains talismans (like a Twilight book that causes anyone that opens it to be impregnated by vampires, opening a Watchmen book that will cause an unhappy Alan Moore to attack, and picking up the Robot Chicken Nerd Action Figure that summons the Nerd). When the Nerd is summoned, the group is attacked by Zombie Joss Whedon who is summoned upon the Buffy the Vampire Slayer DVDs being picked up. Seth told Zeb that Joss made The Cabin in the Woods after being told about their facility and ended up being turned into a zombie. Zombie Joss Whedon continues to attack the group until only Dana and the Nerd are left. Seth tells Matthew and Zeb that the virgin must die last. Dana and the Nerd escape into the hole under the bush and find themselves in the hall of the cube cells where they find various characters that appeared in Robot Chicken like the Creature from the Black Lagoon, Peter Griffin, Skeletor, Master Shake from Aqua Teen Hunger Force, the Velociraptor from Jurassic Park, the Oompa-Loompas from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, Mr. T., Kate Winslet's Washing Machine appearance, Captain Planet from Captain Planet and the Planeteers, and various characters exclusive to Robot Chicken. When Zombie Joss Whedon arrives, Dana accidentally pulls the lever that unlocks the Cube Cells releasing all the inmates as Dana and the Nerd escape through the door and learn that they are reenacting the plot of a horror movie where they learn that they are both virgins. When Zombie Joss Whedon gets through the door, it hears Dana and the Nerd committing sexual intercourse through the doors of the broom closet and disintegrates. Seth, Matthew, and Zeb are then contacted by Keith Crofford and Mike Lazzo as Mike tells them that they are cancelled. Seth and Matthew then shoot themselves. Zeb then takes the opportunity to pitch an idea for a new TV show as Mike quotes "I'm gonna stop you right there. Who the f*** are you?"
- The Cabin in the Woods was spoofed in Scary Movie 5.
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