Sunday, April 15, 2012


Seriously? Are you still reading this even though you haven't seen the movie? Well, stop reading and go to the theater (or the video store or RedBox, if you're reading this after it's left the theater).

I mean it. Right now.


Because although it's not obvious on the surface, "The Cabin in the Woods" is an important movie that says something of world-changing magnitude. Unless you simply detest horror movies, you will be massively entertained by it, and because of the nature of the movie, you may be entertained even if you normally detest the genre. But once you look past the entertainment, this movie offers us a key to shackles that have imprisoned humanity since the dawn of civilization -- or even longer.

Go see it. This is your last chance to leave this blog before I proceed to discuss the ending of the film and what it means. Read any further, and you're going to cheat yourself out of something terrific. You have been warned!

Okay, so to everybody who's seen the film -- and to you, that guy who's ignoring everything I wrote above! -- knowing how "The Cabin in the Woods" ends, we are now faced with a choice about our lives.

Are we the Young in the cabin, or are we the Old in the bunker? Do we fight, and try, and keep trying, and refuse to give in even at the absolute final end? Or do we say, this is how the world is, and we need omelets, so eggs will simply have to be broken.

Because "The Cabin in the Woods" is so entertaining, and because it seems to show us, relatively early on, that there is no hope whatsoever of a happy ending, it would be very easy to just sit back and enjoy it and go away thinking, "Well, that was a delightfully fun movie with an amusingly cynical ending, and now I'm going to go get some ice cream."

But if we do, we'll be just as bad as the lab workers gleefully clamoring for their picks in the betting pool. Those scenes are hilarious, and anyone who's ever held a job that required her to do something distasteful can probably empathize with that betting pool in addition to laughing at it. Yet we all know, while watching that money changing hands, that what we're seeing is not just a little bit wrong but deeply diseased.

Did anyone leave the theater without a little glow in his heart at that circle of Japanese schoolgirls banishing the evil spirit with their song? Did anyone not feel a certain thrill of triumph at monitor after monitor showing "FAIL" for every sacrifice station around the world? Was anyone sad when the Virgin failed to kill the Fool, and did anyone disagree with her apology to him as the two of them sat waiting for the Ancient Ones to rise and destroy the world?

In our hearts, we know the Young are right to fight and not give up. In our hearts, we want to believe that the Young can, in fact, produce a solid string of failures for the wicked factories of malevolence that are at work around the entire world to destroy them. And this movie tells us that they can.

Why does it end with the triumph of evil? Not because the Young failed, but because the Old set up a system in which the power and certainty and beauty of Youth are stamped down in order to perpetuate a hanging-on-by-the-fingertips existence in which no attempt is ever made to eradicate Evil -- only to just barely contain it.

Where would the story have gone if, instead of working so hard to keep the Young from succeeding against the small horrors, the people in the bunker had, years or centuries ago, enlisted their aid to defeat the Ancient Ones?

In every generation, we "grow up" and "realize" that you can't fight the system, can't stay true to all of your ideals, can't make the world a better place. "The Cabin in the Woods" shows us where that "realization" takes us.

So we can listen to what its allegory is telling us, or we can laugh and move on with our lives and accept the world's ghastly side because we haven't the energy for anything beyond the mundane strife of daily existence.

It's our choice. If we stay in the lab, maybe we'll get by. But if we all go to the cabin, then maybe, just maybe, we can make a real difference.