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Comedy in the Cabin in the Woods

The Cabin in the Woods is an American horror comedy movie produced in 2011. The film was written, directed and produced by Goddard and Whedon. The movie’s plot follows a group of college students mapping where to spend their weekend. The five students, Holden, Curt, Marty, Jules and Dana, are in a remote forest cabin where they are subjected to backwoods zombies as the technicians manipulate events from an underground facility. The Cabin in the Woods is categorized as a horror film but with a different make from other horror movies. The film is a bit different in that it is a celebration of horror and near subversion that delivers many scary scenes along with scenes less common in the horror genre, such as laughs, smarts, and an awful lot of surprises. This paper discusses how Goddard and Whedon use humor and mocking in Cabin in the Woods to lighten the mood and diffuse the tension in the film.

Comedy serves as the primary theme in The Cabin in the Woods. The movie’s scriptwriter uses humor and mocking to get victory over the unpleasant scenes in the film and generate a better and happy ending. Besides the primary role of humor in films: to entertain the audience, the scriptwriter uses humor to diffuse the tension in the horror movie by exaggerating the language, situation, action and characters in the film. The humor in the film is expressed in different forms, most of them being irony and satire. The dramatic irony that involves these jumps makes the entire film fun. Even though the family of zombies brutally kills the college students, everyone in the facility seems excited and desensitized that the kids are getting the kick out of it. They even place a bet on which zombie will destroy the entire team this round (Hemsworth and Jesse 00:12-14). The workers in the facility are filmmakers and seem to know the use of humor in making movies. They use humor and mocking to please their old gods, the audience, since they know that if they fail, they will lose their jobs, and their world will end. Therefore, the use of comedy in the film aims to come up with a new plotline that will excite the audience. The plotline of mixed comedy and horror scenes removes the discerning and desensitized tastes developed by the audience over years of watching horror movies composed of death scenes only. Therefore, the use of comedy was to entertain, divert tension and develop a new plotline that is different from other films and will entice the audience.

Comedy in the characters is used to brighten the dark scenes, tell the audience about the characters, and assist in sustaining long expository speeches and explanations in the film. First, the combination of the characters in the film is sarcastic. The five college students: Marty (the fool), Holden (the scholar), Dana (the virgin), Curt (the athlete), and Jules (the whore), claim to be friends. However, it is challenging to have such a combination for a friendship in real life. The director used the five-film archetypes to explain the American ritual, which involves human sacrifice to appease the old gods. The order in which the characters are supposed to be killed is humorous. The order is arbitrary as long as the virgin survives or dies the last while the whore dies the first. As Hadley comments, “the death of the virgin is optional as long as it is last” (Hemsworth and Jesse 00:22-24). Their plotline on how they act these scenes makes the actual film. It’s cliché. It’s standard. They have no free will but to go through the motions that the filmmakers force them to: as a puppet on strings, tugged by the script, the director, and everything that has been set in motion to ensure audience entertainment. The Cabin in the Woods turns into a great comedy film mostly because of poking fun at the characters’ conventions. Chris Hemsworth said that “we should stick together to protect ourselves,” but the facility pumped some gases and changed the entire plan (Hemsworth and Jesse 00:37-38). Changing the togetherness plan got the characters trapped in the giant chasm. Once they were trapped, someone asked, “What are we supposed to do? Jump?” and that statement gave Chris Hemsworth a flash of inspiration (Hemsworth and Jesse 00:38-39). Chris pulled a motorcycle off the back of the car and gave an inspiring speech. He will come back with a stronger army and save everyone. The scene is common in many films, and we have witnessed it, but the Cabin in the Woods is funny as it points out the trope. Therefore, humor and comedy among the characters are entertaining and explain other movies and give the film an amazing climax.

Goddard and Whedon tried to create a film with roots to the horror genre and ties with other genres such as comedy in it as seen where they are sitting around in the main room, playing truth or dare, and Jules is dared to kiss the wolfs head on the wall. Besides what the audience sees in the Cabin walls, Goddard and Whedon catch the attention of the viewers’ moods’ in the movie using catchy lighting, smells, and prop sounds. The Cabin in the Woods’ cinematography has two significant visual components: composition and design. Goddard and Whedon utilize the two visual components to provide the viewers with the general meaning of the film scene. Among the elements used in the cinematography of the film was the Cabin. It showed the viewers that this was not an ordinary cabin in the woods. The low-key and high-key lightings and the Cabin’s location gave a hint of the events to be triggered. A series of over-the-shoulder shots show the viewers how the characters interact. Over-the-shoulder shots were used when Dana apologized to Marty for almost killing him (Hemsworth and Jesse 01:12-14). The shots were meant to show how the two characters interacted with one another, thus helping them to understand the characters’ personalities. In these scenes, the viewers learn between Marty and Dana as they sit down to share a joint, yet Dana has been told to kill Marty to complete the failed ritual and save humanity. A close-up two-shot is also used to show Dana and Marty’s reaction after the floor collapses and a giant hand emerges from the ground to destroy the facility. Despite the scary scenes, panning takes place to follow the characters. Panning ensured visual accompaniment with the characters’ speech to keep the viewers engaged and understand the context in which things are happening.

Although the Cabin in the Wood is a horror genre film, the comedy scenes in the movie make it fun to watch. Goddard and Whedon appropriately use humor to entertain the audience and divert the tension of a standard horror movie. Scary scenes are turned into laughs and interesting scenes through professional cinematography and editing. The film is a combination of what many movie viewers love and hate about horror movies. The mixture of thrilling scenes and comedy makes the film a masterpiece.

Works Cited

Hemsworth, Chris, and Jesse Williams. “The Cabin in the Woods.” YouTube, Apr. 2012, Accessed 6 Feb. 2022.


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