Posts Tagged ‘Cabin in the Woods’

In honor of Halloween week, I give you my review of my new favorite comedy horror film. Ok, so I still love Cabin in the Woods above all others in this category, but it might be tied with Tucker and Dale vs. Evil, and Heathers.

movie poster

Detention (2011 or 2012 depending on what you’re looking at)

Starring: Shanley Caswell (Riley), Josh Hutcherson (Clapton), Spencer Locke (Ione), Aaron David Johnson (Sanderson), and a bunch of other people, including Dane Cook (don’t worry, he plays an asshole, so those of you who hate him can still hate him, and those of you who don’t will find him funny AND an asshole).

Directed by: Joseph Kahn

At a VERY basic level, it’s about a bunch of high school kids trying to survive a serial killer (Cinderhella) in their hometown of Grizzly Lake. It’s a horror comedy in the same vein as Scream, Cabin in the Woods, and Tucker and Dale vs. Evil. I will warn you now – it is very fast-paced, and often feels as though whoever wrote it was on some serious hard core drugs as they came up with it, but ultimately I think it does a pretty damn good job of bringing everything full circle with appropriately placed foreshadowing woven in amongst all the randomosity and outrageous humor. That said, I don’t think it would work nearly as well if it was a slower-paced story. One of the reviews on Netflix says it perfectly: you know how some scripts are like sharks? They have to keep moving or they’ll die? This is definitely one of those scripts.

The writers/directors also had an obsession with the 90s. There is an insane number of 90s references. Also there might be time travel. Don’t think about it too hard, and it’s ok. Sometimes I think this is supposed to take place a bit in the future, or perhaps this is just a very strange school full of scientific geniuses. It’s hard to tell. But like I said, don’t think about it too hard and the crazy is just hilarious. I’ll give you the trailer, but I don’t think it quite does it justice as far as telling you what you’re really getting yourself into.

Really, it’s something like this:


Did I mention there’s also a Canadian who talks like every moment of his life is living a slam poetry performance? Or that there’s a very Freaky Friday subplot? There also might be aliens. Or someone who is part fly. If that’s not enough to get you intrigued, here are some of my favorite lines (many of which remind me of my favorites from Heathers) and images:

fashion victim

Riley: “Every morning I try to remember that I’m only the second biggest loser to walk Grizzly Hills High. First place goes to the drunk slut who screwed the dead mascot in 1992. But the 90’s are history, and so am I.”

detention 2011 riley

Gord the Canadian: “Yes, I like to start off by saying that this girl’s argument is ridiculous! Vegetarians who eat fish are hypocrites! She thinks that because fish feel no pain they don’t value their lives. Absurd!”


Clapton: I’d hide in a sporting goods store if zombies attacked.

Sanderson: Costco. Zombies don’t have memberships.


do the crane thing

These people must have had a ridiculously good time making this movie, if nothing else.

cast having fun

I am sure this movie has many flaws. But I thought it was well done and enjoyable for what it was: a horror comedy. Plus Josh Hutcherson is adorable. They did a good job of hiding who the Cinderhella killer was until the audience was supposed to know, too. I generally don’t like it when movies/TV shows try to do a bunch of things all at once, but somehow I think it worked for this one.

So, if you’re looking for something kind of scary and kind of ridiculous to watch for Halloween week, Detention is on Netflix! Enjoy!



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At the end of January, I had the good fortune to spend a weekend in a real Cabin in the Woods. Several other geology graduate students and I thought it would be a brilliant way to spend our last weekend of winter break before Spring Semester classes started the following Monday.

The morning we were set to leave, one of my office mates pointed out that this forestry cabin we were all so excited about visiting was, in fact, a Cabin in the Woods. I suddenly had irrational fears that zombies would crawl out of the ground and try to kill us and that the world would end well before classes started on Monday morning. If you didn’t catch that reference, you have lived a sadly sheltered life.


As we drove for several hours to reach this magical cabin, I kept drawing parallels between Joss Whedon’s epic movie and our own adventure.

  • We had three guys and two girls.
  • We were going to a remote location without cell phone service.
  • It was indeed a Cabin in the Woods.
  • There was a creepy gas station along the way (unfortunately – or perhaps fortunately – we didn’t see this one until we were on the way home).

Yes, I admit, not really enough for a normal person to get too excited about, but I am a Whedonite, and the minor parallels amused me. It became a running joke the whole weekend, especially when someone pointed out that none of us had any intention of having sex, so we were probably all safe from a cliched horror movie fate.

Two of us arrived before the rest of our party, and we were thrilled to go inside after a long car ride.

But the cabin was ice-cold.

This place was pretty ancient, though it had recently been remodeled by the forest service, so – no electricity, but we did have a giant propane tank by the wood shed and a wood stove oven to warm it up. They just don’t tell you that it takes about 2 hours before it’s comfortably warm (this is a thing I didn’t realize until my friend was chopping wood and I was hovering by the stove, waiting for the magical fire to warm my frigid bones). What can I say? I’m a city girl, and my family never owned a vacation cabin.

So, with only two of us in the cabin for a couple hours, I started to think about why cabins are as creepy as we seem to think. This particular line of thought was spurred when I convinced myself I could see a trap door under the rug in the living room. There I was, minding my own business, grading some geology 101 lab exams, and I let my eyes focus on the rug. I sat there starting at it for a few long minutes, until I was sure there was a door under it. My friend actually offered to lift the rug up and check for me, because I was glued to my seat. But did I really want to know the answer? If I didn’t look, I could eventually convince myself that there was nothing there. But if we did look, and there WAS a trapdoor leading under the cabin, would we have to investigate? Would I lie awake at night imagining that something would find it’s way up from the cellar? In the end, I decided ignorance was bliss.

But why ARE cabins so creepy? Why are they featured so often in horror films?

I am no psychologist, but here’s what I came up with. Cabins (especially those out in the woods or the middle of nowhere) can produce internal and external fears in a person. The internal fear comes from the overwhelming solitude one might feel if one thinks about how remote their location is for long enough. The external fear comes from the unknown – outside the cabin (or under it, in some cases).

It starts to get dark outside, you realize you’re alone, you can’t see what’s outside when the lamps are on, cell phone service is MIA, you are miles away from any substantial amount of civilization. You really are off the radar, cut off from the rest of the world. For some people, this is relaxing. For many others, it’s terrifying. These are the reasons cabins make such great horror story settings.

After we survived the night and my rational brain had taken over, we spent the rest of the cabin trip plotting someone’s demise, smoking cigars, hiking on ice, watching moose meander down the creek, playing games, and cooking delicious meals. It was a spectacular two days, and I highly recommend going on a cabin adventure if you get the chance. Forestry cabins are pretty cheap (I ended up paying about $25 for the whole weekend).

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