TTHE CABIN IN THE WOODS
A book for the 'Devil's Advocates' Series of Liverpool University Press (publication date: 1 May 2023)
The Cabin in the Woods (2012), directed by Drew Goddard and co-authored by Goddard and Joss Whedon of Buffy-fame, may well be the horror genre’s most allusive, inter-textual and self-referential parody. Hailed variously as a ‘reinvention’ or ‘correction’ of the horror genre, as ‘a satire of the horror genre, a metaphor for the filming process, and a critique of society’, as ‘symbolically extending a middle finger to formulaic corporate horror and the sequels and remakes that have bogged the genre down in repetition’, the film was described by co-author Whedon as his ‘loving hate letter’ to horror. Interviews with Whedon reveal that his struggles with modern cinematic horror are not merely emotional, but intensely philosophical.
This book will argue that Cabin takes on the most fundamental and least challenged philosophical basis of the horror genre, namely, that horror seeks to evoke fear. My book will advance three linked arguments: that Cabin is more interested in evoking guilt than fear; that by various means of intertextuality, allusion and self-referentiality, Cabin self-defines as a horror metatext, and that in so doing it ascribes this very function—to motivate viewer guilt, not fear—to the horror genre at large. In this way, Cabin can indeed be read as a ‘reinvention’ or ‘correction’ of the horror genre.
Chapter 1—Into the Woods: Introduction
Chapter 2—Fealty v. Nihilism: How (Not) to Save the World
Chapter 3—Either v. Or: The Puppets' Choice
Chapter 4—Alignment v. Allegiance: How we see
Chapter 5—Guilt v. Fear: Why we look