Tuesday, June 26, 2012

My Response To The Spoony One Re: The Cabin In The Woods

So this is quite a different article for me, I am writing this article as a response to another reviewer, namely The Spoony One of The Spoony Experiments. So this article is more or less a direct letter to him, HOWEVER it also is worthy of discussion and I figured I'd share it with the rest of you. Before I start I'd like to preamble this by saying I have the utmost respect for Spoony and his opinion. The mark of a true critic is to be able to accept a critique of their criticism. And as a critic myself I'd hope that anyone with an opposing view would be more than willing to discuss it with me. That's what we call mutual respect in our field when our disagreements is what bring us together. And with all that being said let's dive in...


I am NOT a Joss Whedon fan by ANY stretch of the imagination, quite frankly I LOATHE the whole of his work from "Buffy", to "Angel" (except for the last 5 episodes), and yes, I even dislike "Firefly", I didn't give "Dollhouse" a shot at ALL, and I am more than less inclined to read any of his runs on ANY comic book series...so yes, I am NOT coming at this from the perspective of some Doe eyed Joss Whedon fanboy who thinks the man craps gold nuggets. I'm saying all of this to say that the irony of my coming to his defense isn't lost on me and it really shows my dedication to my opinion and my somewhat unbiased way of looking at things.

I was present during your Livestream broadcast when you were discussing the movie because you were the first person who expressed a dislike of the movie, so that had me very interested in what you had to say, and while I understand and accept that you dislike the movie (which I don't care if you like it or hate it), I think you dislike it for the wrong reasons and I'm here to explain why I think that and where I think you're wrong.

For starters, I don't think you were aware of what exactly it was you were watching. This is NOT that old argument of "You expected too much.", No, what I'm saying has proof based on something you tweeted that prove my point.

 Those tweets above prove my point and I'll explain why. I think you took the movie WAY more seriously than the movie took it's self. "The Cabin In The Woods" is essentially the "Austin Powers" of scary movies. There's a scene in "Austin Powers" where Dr. Evil reveals he has a Time Machine and plans to steal Austin's mojo to which Scott replies "Why don't you just shoot him?" and Dr. Evil IMMEDIATELY dismisses the suggestion. That is the PERFECT summary of "The Cabin In The Woods". Basically what I'm saying is it's supposed to be EXTREMELY convenient in a way that real life wouldn't be.

The humor in "Austin Powers" was the fact that Dr. Evil COULD have killed Austin Power EASILY but didn't based on COMPLETELY illogical reasons, which in turn is based on the convenience of James Bond villains having NUMEROUS opportunities to kill James Bond only for him to escape by luck or the villain's own hubris. Dr. Evil was merely an exaggeration of that. Because think about it, in no SERIOUS movie would a bad guy NOT kill his mortal enemy in the past IF they had the ability to do so. In the same way, "The Cabin In The Woods" no SERIOUS movie would have a Purge Button just conveniently laying around for ANYONE to press on accident or purposefully, it'd be too stupid...but I'm telling you "The Cabin In The Woods" is NOT a serious movie. It's a parody.

Of course you'd expect me to bring up the "SCREAM" series, since "SCREAM" is also a parody, however let's first examine what a parody is:


parody (plural parodies)
  1. A work or performance that imitates another work or performance with ridicule or irony.

The irony found in "SCREAM" was the meta-fictional references made by the character of Randy Meeks and his understanding of "The Rules", which the movie disregarded, Sidney lost her virginity and managed to survive all 4 movies. And there are plenty more ways "SCREAM" was ironic, as noted in my "SCREAM" retrospective video. I know you think "SCREAM" is over rated and I respect that but you can't deny that it works as a parody. Simply because it takes it's self seriously enough to know exactly WHAT it's parodying and how to be it's own movie in and of it's self. BUT let's be 100% clear here, "SCREAM" and "The Cabin In The Woods" are HORROR movies, despite being parodies they have to adhere to the formula of horror movies, which means people have to die is pretty gorey ways.

"Your core audience expects it" 
-Randy Meeks "Scream 2"

Imagine if you were watching "Austin Powers" and it suddenly shoe-horned a reference to "Sixteen Candles" in it...that'd be strange because "Austin Powers" is a parody of the spy genre, so you'd expect Spy things to be going on: Evil organization, Espionage, Government organizations, some kind of MacGuffin, ect. ect. You would NOT expect a random reference to "Juno" or some Dancing movie. In the same way with a horror parody you'd expect something that's in the genre of horror to appear.

Secondly the only way to successfully pull off a parody to call attention to moments where the logic breaks down and mock it by use of elaborating on why it fails. There's an AMAZING scene in "Goldmember" when Nigel Powers fights off Dr. Evil's guards and finally when faced with the last man standing Nigel Powers began to ridicule the guard, pointing out that he doesn't even have a name tag and he should merely lay down and play dead, which the guard did so. You know what we call that ? PLOT CONVENIENCE!!

In a SERIOUS movie Plot Convenience is a BIG NO-NO! Because in a Serious movie the plot has to logically follow with the choices and intelligence of the characters. However in a Parody this can be skewed in order to create an effect where humor is derived. In the case of "The Cabin In The Woods" (which is a horror movie) the effect wasn't to create humor but was rather to create MORE blood, guts and gore. Think about it, can you think of ANY reason why that scene was in the movie other than showcasing the many monsters they had in their showcase ? The Elevator Scene was supposed to be a blood, guts and gore fest of epic proportions and the effect was achieved, all through the device of parody plot convenience. 

In a SERIOUS movie, no such scene and button would exist, and the stoner wouldn't survive. Which brings me to your next objection, that the movie had no consistent tone. Once again, if this were a serious movie you'd be 100% correct but since this is a parody, you're 100% wrong. The movie, in my opinion didn't shift in tone at all, it maintained the steady of concept of misdirection and impending dread, all of which are offered with winks and nods. By that I mean we knew EXACTLY what we were paying for the second we sat down to watch the movie, these characters are gonna get slaughtered viciously so sit back and enjoy the show. That was the tone. 

I hate to use this example because I have nothing but loathing for pornography, but when the pizza boy shows up at the door you know eventually he's gonna be banging the chick he delivered to, all you have to do is sit back and wait for what you KNOW is gonna happen. If you expect something different to happen, then that's really your fault, not the fault of the movie. Because the movie never pretended to be anything else, after all the opening scene explained EVERYTHING and the movie NEVER attempted to deny what was going on. So how could it NOT have a consistent tone when the tone is set in the opening scene and maintained throughout the film?

Finally, you mentioned that movie attempted to do a "Banality of Evil" thing, which I think you're wrong on that regard, the movie wasn't about the "Banality of Evil" but rather the "Evil of Banality". Meaning, our view of what constitutes horror has become SO cliche, SO simple, SO average, SO watered down that there has been NOTHING in the way or revitalizing it. Just about ALL horror movies fit the blueprint laid out in "The Cabin In The Woods", so much so that we IMMEDIATELY know which characters gonna die, which character's gonna live. Let's face it, horror movies haven't been interesting because of that simple fact. The Control Room characters essentially represent us and our own callousness to the situations, we've become desensitized to scary movies because we know what to expect, in the same way they did. The characters were gonna get killed one by one, their job was to make it happen and our job was to simply watch and enjoy.

It was much like watching a writer write a horror movie and witnessing it all come together. But let's face it, this is an old and tired "ritual" that hasn't changed since it's inception. Which is what "The Cabin In The Woods" was about. "The Cabin In The Woods" was MADE a cliche on purpose to point out the fact that the horror genre hasn't changed. The reason being is because writers want to play it safe and gives us the tried and true method that has always worked, HOWEVER in reason inside the movie was because if they didn't follow the "ritual" the world would end.


"In The Mouth Of Madness" was a serious movie. Deconstructions are observations and poignant commentaries like "Watchmen" was a deconstruction of the Superhero genre. "In The Mouth Of Madness"  (at least to me) was more of a psychological thriller as opposed to a horror movie, to me it felt more like a commentary on reality, madness and what's real and what's not, all of which are valid questions for a SERIOUS movie. "The Cabin In The Woods" was one BIG FAT JOKE. Joss Whedon wasn't saying "There are cliche's in horror movies, isn't that clever?!" No, instead he was saying "There are cliche's in horror movies and here's why.".


And that to me is the clever part of the movie, the fact that it acknowledge that it was appealing to cliches BUT it gave us a REASON why these cliches were happening. It explained WHY Jules wanted to f*ck everything in sight, it explained WHY the characters wanted to split up despite that being the DUMBEST idea ever in a situation like that. Furthermore, like ALL parodies, the voice of reason is essentially ignored and silenced for most of the film (ie, The Stoner) as a parallel to Scott Evil who could only suggest what his father should do with his Time Machine but could not take action himself. "The Cabin In The Woods" provided us with an in story reason WHY the characters were acting so stupidly, which is more than what ANY horror has done, hence why I applaud it.

Spoony, I understand that you don't like this movie and I'm not here to persuade you to like it, however I am hoping that I at least provided some sound rebuttals to your points made about the movie and at least explained why I think you're wrong. Once again I greatly respect you and you're opinion and am very much so looking forward to your final "Ultima 9" video. 

-Strange Out.

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