Revisiting THE CABIN IN THE WOODS - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

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Alexander Wallace watches from the bunker.
The Cabin in the Woods is one of those movies that, whenever it is discussed on the internet, almost nothing of the plot is ever spoken of openly. It’s one of those movies where going in blind is essential to appreciate the sheer originality of what it is actually doing. It’s an utterly meta thrill ride throughout the very concept of a ‘horror movie,’ and frankly to have it spoiled would detract from the experience of trying to puzzle it all out. Movies and books like that are a lot of fun, and I would hate to spoil it for newcomers.

That being said, it’s been ten years since its release on April 13th, 2011. At time of writing, it’s on Amazon Prime. It runs only about an hour and a half. To avoid spoiling yourself, go watch it post-haste. You will not regret it.
I’m going to assume you’ve seen it now.

I like meta, and this film is unabashedly meta. The entire plot in the SCP Foundation-esque agency (much like the Foundation, dedicated to preserving humanity - the whole enterprise reminds me of SCP-231, where appalling things are done in the name of saving us all). As you watch The Cabin in the Woods, it becomes clear that this organization is a stand-in for you, the viewer, eager to see these college students end up dismembered or worse for your own twisted entertainment. The very idea of subjecting people who were not so long ago children to something so awful for such an impeccably noble cause strikes me as almost a hastily assembled cover for the fact that we enjoy seeing other people suffer.

The director, portrayed by Sigourney Weaver, talks of how youth is essential to the ritual. She, and the other staff who make bets to earn blood money over the corpses of youth, seem almost jealous of their energy, their attractiveness, their enthusiasm, their freedom, and their attachments. As the ‘real world’ encloses on those whose youth gradually fades, they can become jealous of those who have that which they so thoroughly want. I’ve seen it said that abuse of the young is one of the most enduring rituals in human societies, and the archetypical teenagers and college students in the horror genre can arguably be seen as an extension of that trend. This genre has been deeply cruel towards youth, and its antagonists are living embodiments of its cruelty. There is a literal interface that is used to throw different abominations at these students; could that not be the ‘horror’ category on a streaming service?
But what really elevates this framing is that the students push back. Sure, some of them die, but they die in acts of empathy. One dies in an act of intimacy with her beau and two die trying to get help to save their friends. Their deaths are not senseless; they are ones borne out of pure, unbridled opprobrium for the goodness that exists among young people (for what god would want people punished for such things, and to destroy humanity if they aren’t, if he did not hate them?).

When Marty and Dana find themselves in the facility that engineers the macabre spectacle, they realize that they are being punished for the satisfaction of others. They waste no time in wreaking havoc upon the cruel, and unleash the horrors meant for themselves against their former handlers, culminating with the end of all humanity. Since these white-collar administrators are a metaphor for horror viewers, Marty and Dana ultimately decide to destroy you. Your demand for horror movies means they suffer for your entertainment; these two simply have the savvy to realize it. In that omnicidal act, they pass judgement on you and everyone else who enjoys such violence, and all but state that you do not deserve to survive for what they view as an unforgivable crime.

Alexander Wallace is an alternate historian, reader, and writer who moderates the Alternate History Online group on Facebook and the Alternate Timelines Forum on Proboards. He writes regularly for the Sea Lion Press blog and for NeverWas magazine, and also appears regularly on the Alternate History Show with Ben Kearns. He is a member of several alternate history fora under the name 'SpanishSpy.'

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