Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Cabin in the Woods and feminism

Again, spoilers if you haven't seen the movie. Go see the movie!

Alyssa Rosenberg asks if Cabin is a step back from Buffy on the feminist front:

But Jules’ character is the one that’s least-played with, the least-subverted, and the one we see suffer the longest. We learn that Dana isn’t really a virgin—she’s just the best the people orchestrating the sacrifice have to work with. Curt, the giant jock, turns out to be a pre-med smarty. Stoner Marty’s protected from the malign influences of the people manipulating them because the pot he’s smoking ends up inoculating him to the pheromones they’re pumping into the cabin, and he’s the one who figures out how to get them into the complex. (Holden doesn’t get much of a fair shake either, and it’s too bad that both of the characters of color in the movie are somewhat quiet and detached). But we don’t get a clear debunking of whatever stereotypes we’re supposed to have about Jules. Clearly, she’s being influenced by the chemicals, the heightened moonlight. But we don’t know what her base behavior is like, whether she and Curt were already sleeping together (though I assumed so) before the trip, why her actions here are surprising—when we meet her, after all, she’s bugging Dana to be less of a prude.

If I'm remembering correctly, the stoner guy asks the rest of the group if they have ever seen Jules act like she did? Granted, that's far from fleshing out her character. But that, along with the chemicals they put in her hair dye and all of the other manipulation going on, was enough for me to buy that she wasn't the stereotypical horror blonde girl. And it's not like they spent much longer fleshing out the other characters.

And I thought the point of the movie was to make her (and the rest of them) into that stereotype because that's what society says it wants. And the end (choosing not to give into the stereotypes and letting the world end) was a rebuke of giving society what it always wants with a horror movie.

Though I guess you can argue that if my analysis was the goal, it could have been made stronger by having Jules be one of the survivors. But then again, there is the feminist angle of Dana's perceived virginity and how that's a pretty big horror trope. I'm not complete sure, I need to see it again. But I think comparing this with Buffy is a bit like comparing apples to oranges. They are both a subversion of the horror genre. But Buffy was specifically about the blonde girl's role in that genre. Cabin is more about the genre as a whole, not just that of the blonde girl. So it's harder to make the same kind of feminist statement when dealing with a broader scope.

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