OK, for those who have not yet seen the recently-released The Cabin in the Woods (opened in April) and for some reason, still want to: STOP READING RIGHT NOW!! Warning: ahead lie Spoilers; read forward at thy own risk. Seriously, don’t read even down to the next paragraph (cause I’m going to blow the movie for you), but if you continue any further (last chance to stop now), it’s your own fault if this really horrible and awful movie gets blown all-to-pieces for you (movie-wise):
What is it about “Paganism”- or at least, “really ancient, Polytheistic Gods-Worshipping Belief-Systems”- that makes people latch onto “Human Sacrifice”?
Never mind the spate of British films throughout the ’60s that ended with: AND THE WITCHES (read: PAGANS) WERE SACRIFICING HUMANS!! This trend (culminating in the original Wicker Man) had the innocence of the 1960s and early ’70s behind it. What about the two post-2000s remakes of The Wicker Man? (Both of which conclude with, And these Cults of modern-day Pagans continue the practice of HUMAN SACRIFICE, and one of which has the added disgrace of starring Nicolas Cage.) What about the recent novel The Stonehenge Legacy? (Which concludes with the shocking revelation that, this ancient Pagan Cult of Stonehenge continues to this day: HUMAN SACRIFICE!!) What about the British columnist, quoted by Jason at The Wild Hunt, reacting to a school-ciriculum in Cornwall, England, treating the British Cultural Past of Pagan Traditions, by asking (essentially): “What’s next? End-of-Term marked by the Black Mass and HUMAN SACRIFICE?” And what about this recent Hollywood release (the most gonzo in the category), depicting a rustic Cabin In The Woods: home to a really (really) elaborate, especially modern-day, ritualistically-constructed scene of Polytheistic HUMAN SACRIFICE!!
This film (I guess) means to be a send-up of the “Hot Young People and Slashers in the Woods” genre; I remember when it came out, but (truthfully) it would never had occurred to me actually to see it, except that a friend phoned me up recently, going, do you know what this movie is about?
On that basis, I purchased a ticket, and can say that I am glad that I did (because now I can report on it), but strictly speaking: this is definitely one of those movies that I could have (really, really well) done without.
In the first place, it is moronically stupid (although it does feature Chris Hemsworth- Marvel Movies’ Thor- demonstrating again that he is a good actor, with a natural sense and versatility enough to bridge both the God of Thunder and this dreck). It opens with the most stereotypically awful group of college-aged youngsters, intent upon a week-end get-away to a remote Cabin in the Woods; as is the way with Slasher flicks, it is very preoccupied with the “sluttiness” of one young lady, contrasted with the prim “virginity” of another. Pity the actress who has to act all “slutty” throughout the movie (until she meets a grisly death at the hands of a torture-porn zombie).
The weird thing is, all of this is being monitored by a bunch of dispassionate corporate types somewhere, turning the concept into a kind of psycho reality show. It’s difficult to know if the film means to be satiric somehow of the dehumanizing effects of voyeuristic entertainment, or if it’s just really stupid, in a “trying to be too smart for its own good” kind of way. In so far as such a demented work can be said to “come together,” its ultimate set-up is revealed as oblique references to the “ritual sacrifices,” “lambs to the killing floor,” and “the Ancient Ones Who see All” coalesce into: this is all an elaborate Human Sacrifice, meant to appease the Dark and Terrible Gods living beneath the Earth.
The kidnapping, terrorizing, and torture-murder of attractive young people (some better actors than others), as Ritual Sacrifice for the Gods Who used to Rule the Earth, the “Ancient Ones” Who will destroy the planet, if these set-up sacrifices are not made: “This we offer.”
By the time that Sigourney Weaver shows up (yes, Sigourney Weaver is in this film, although you’d never know it, cause I guess her contract strictly forbade using her name in association with this sad and unpleasant flick), the film’s equilibrium has steered so completely off, there is no point in trying to treat it seriously any more. Unlike The Wicker Man films (which stage human sacrifices against scenes that look very much like modern Neo-Paganism), Cabin in the Woods finally suggests that the Corporation of Human Sacrifice might be run by particularly twisted Methodists; nonetheless, one is looking at a film that puts “the Ancient Gods Who used to Rule the Earth” together with slasher-shock and ritual murder, prompting the question once again: What IS IT about ancient polytheistic Belief-Systems (like Paganism) that makes people go “human sacrifice”?