While watching “The Cabin In The Woods” last night, I couldn’t help but get nostalgic. A satire on horror genre in a more horrific Truman type setting, the movie, co-written and directed by long time Whedon collaborator and Buffy alum Drew Goddard, is such a delightful mish-mash of genre tropes, in-jokes, meta-references and black humor, it’s almost like Joss decided to make a film just to wink at his fans. An office betting pool in the anticipation of a massacre should not be funny. But it is. Because it’s so classic Joss Whedon. And the fans are winking right back. Already being proclaimed a modern classic, the film was an instant critical and commercial success.
I am not devoted enough to be termed a ‘Whedonite’, the whole idea of fandom is not very appealing to me. I don’t live in an alternate “Whedonverse”, I also don’t spend time on ‘Whedonesque’ (the man has his own dictionary at this point). It’s just that Joss Whedon is someone whose career I have followed closely and whom I have rooted for in the process, since first becoming obsessed with Buffy the Vampire Slayer back when it started airing in India while I was still a student. It was probably the first, okay, the third TV show I ever freaked out over; after being nuts about I Love Lucy and Star Trek reruns as a kid. However, I was blown away when I started watching Buffy. I never knew television could be like that. Why was this tiny, slightly ditzy blonde, surrounded by nerdy friends and a baffled British librarian, spending so much time in graveyards while wearing super short skirts and heels? The characters, the relationships, the dialogue. I couldn’t look away, I was hypnotized. Over the next few years, Buffy grew into an iconic cult phenomenon and Whedon became a household name, inspiring a whole generation of geeks and sending his collective internet fandom into multiple orgasms, every time he announced a project. After the Buffy/Angel twin series, a whole lot of disappointment followed, when his excellent space western series Firefly was cancelled before it could even take off. The powers that be obviously had no idea of the power of Whedon and the extent of his fandom’s devotion at this point though. The collective gasp over its cancellation caused a small rip in the Ozone layer and the murmuring of a second chance gradually became such a cacophonous roar, especially as it grew into its status as another cult show, that Universal finally picked it up as a movie sequel. Serenity, released in 2005, got a lot of critical acclaim and just about managed to recover its cost. But the power of The Joss had been established. Despite his new series Dollhouse not going far enough either (and probably his only work that doesn’t inspire too much nerd love), he had steadily climbed into the big leagues and ended up being roped in to direct the 2012 mega blockbuster ‘The Avengers’. I have to admit that despite being happy for his success, I was almost disappointed that the God of the small-but-cult-works had given in to The Man, that material such as this was not a good fit for him. I am happy to admit that I was wrong. I enjoyed every second of the crackling dialogue and the classic Whedon quips being delivered by the king of snazzy delivery, Robert Downey Junior. Being a self-proclaimed geek and comic fan himself, he was able to give the material his loving and personal touch. And he is thankfully still continuing to work on smaller projects, including the 2012 film Much Ado About Nothing.
There has been some criticism of the loose ends and especially the climax of The Cabin In The Woods. But as anybody familiar with Whedon’s work will know, underneath all the witty dialogue and pop-culture-reference-laden jokes, his body of work has always been a scathing indictment of human folly, the banality of evil and our fluid sense of morality. So when Dana wearily says “Humanity. It’s time to give someone else a chance”, and sits there with her friend watching the whole world crumble to pieces, I couldn’t see a more fitting end.
“The hardest thing in this world is to live in it” – Buffy