Cabin in the Woods made a big splash when it was released because of its big twist and the play on genre conventions, but… the twist isn’t great or surprising, and director Joss Whedon doesn’t use conventions that intelligently.
Now I never actually found out what the twist was before seeing it, but knowing there is a twist (which was really the whole media draw for the film) kind of ruins it. It means you’re constantly looking for any indication of what the twist is, and expecting something really great. It just didn’t turn out that good for me.
As for utilizing genre conventions, it seemed to fall into the habits more then questioning or manipulating them. Each character is firmly rooted in their tradition, and they never really branch out. People die in the order I would expect, they have the opinions and character traits I’ve grown to expect from each stereotype, and they’re just as flat as in most other horror movies.
It’s become a common thing in the past few years, to throw in a couple scenes that prove the creators understand the genre they’re in. Oh yes, people are orchestrating this… that means any genre conventions they still use are there for a reason, it’s intentional. But that was never in doubt, what is questionable is whether you can bring anything new. And that just doesn’t happen here.
It’s not a bad movie, really… I just never got into it. I expected to love it as much as Scream (my first choice scary movie forever) and that just didn’t come to fruition. I know pretty much everyone loves this movie…I just found it a little overrated for all that hype. And it wasn’t even that scary.