When I compared Cabin in the Woods to Shaun of the Dead I was told that it was an unfair comparison because Shaun of the Dead is a spoof, and Cabin in the Woods is a “deconstruction”. I sort of frowned, because the point I was trying, and possibly failing, to make was that Cabin in the Woods was a far inferior satire.
But I guess I’ll concede the point, it’s not satire. It’s a “deconstruction”. I still don’t like it, though.
I’ve heard a lot of talk about how “smart” this movie is, and I put that in quotes because I really don’t think it’s that smart. It’s certainly not the first movie genre deconstruction, nor is it even the first horror movie deconstruction.
Let’s look at what deconstruction means.
According to Google it’s: “A method of critical analysis of philosophical and literary language that emphasizes the internal workings of language and conceptual systems, the relational quality of meaning, and the assumptions implicit in forms of expression.”
Yikes. That’s a mouthful. I think we better ask our friend Wikipedia. There’s a lot of disclaimers at the top Wikipedia’s page on Deconstruction, including: “This article may be confusing or unclear to readers.”
And it is. For me actual philosophy, though interesting, has always been a tough subject. Feel free to dive in if you want.
I think that ultimately the term has a different meaning on internet movie message boards than it does in academic literature. Essentially, when people say that Cabin in the Woods is a deconstruction, they mean that the movie plays with the tropes and mechanics of the horror movie genre in such a way that it is able to comment both on the genre itself and Real Life. TvTropes.org in this case is a better source for information than Wikipedia.
Anyway, I guess that’s where the attraction for fans of The Cabin the Woods lies. Other films have similarly taken apart genres in this way, specifically Scream (1996). But I think a better comparison for Cabin in the Woods is the action movie deconstruction, Last Action Hero (1993).