BLUE’S BEATS #23 – The Cabin in the Woods

 

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It’s nearly Halloween, so why not sit back and enjoy a good horror script? Drew Goddard‘s The Cabin in the Woods is one of the great contemporary horror films, serving as a worthy pastiche of classic eighties horror flicks, particularly Sam Raimi‘s The Evil Dead.

Read the screenplay by genre icon, Joss Whedon, and Drew Goddard here, then analyze the story’s important beats.

 

 

PLOT SUMMARY

Five friends spend a weekend at a secluded cabin in the woods, but are soon confronted by dark forces beyond their comprehension.

 

SET UP

We are first introduced to a mysterious, shady organization, as two friends/co-workers talk about mundane things while preparing for something big. It’s going to be a long weekend.

“Very suddenly there is a horribly loud musical sting and a smash cut to titles: THE CABIN IN THE WOODS.”

Cut to a quaint looking, stereotypical college town, “not unSanFranciscolike.” Here we are introduced to our five primary characters: the virgin, Dana (Kristen Connolly), the confident, Jules (Anna Hutchison), the jock, Curt (Chris Hemsworth), the nice guy, Holden (Jesse Williams), and the stoner, Marty (Fran Kranz).

 

INCITING INCIDENT

Page 10, the group of friends packs up and leaves in an RV to spend a “relaxing” weekend at the lake in Curt’s cousin’s cabin.

Structurally, the script for Cabin in the Woods is open to interpretation. Some would argue that the inciting incident is further on in the script, specifically what I consider the midpoint. However, I think that the true break into Act II is the group coming together and departing for the cabin, setting their misadventures in motion.

 

PLOT POINT ONE

As the friends travel to their weekend getaway, they stop for gas at a small, rundown service station. It seems abandoned, but they are soon confronted by the owner, an old, terrifying looking man with rotting teeth and a disgruntled attitude. This is one of the first indicators that something is amiss. It is later revealed that the old man is connected to the shadowy organization pulling the strings.

The group arrives at the cabin on page 21, and it doesn’t seem to be quite as expected. It looks terrifying, like one would expect of a cabin in a horror film. They appear somewhat unsettled, but seem to make the best of it. Another, considerably less subtle, indicator that not all is as it seems occurs on page 25. Holden discovers a two-way mirror connecting two of the bedrooms. Members of the group, Dana and Marty in particular, become suspicious.

 

 

MIDPOINT

After some drunken escapades, the friends discover a trap door leading to a hidden basement, filled with an assortment of antique curiosities, many harkening to beloved classic horror films, though seemingly harmless to our characters.

Dana is intrigued by a diary, which she begins to read from. The utterance of a particular Latin phrase awakens a backwater family of redneck zombies. The trajectory of the story now drastically shifts to the characters’ struggle to survive.

 

PLOT POINT TWO

It is slowly revealed that the organization from the beginning has been orchestrating the events. The group must choose the supernatural manner of their deaths of their own free will. As they all fight to live, Marty finds a wire in his room, and his suspicions grow.

After the death of Jules, and the “death” of Marty, Dana, Holden, and Curt make their escape. Curt attempts to jump across a gorge on his dirt bike, but is killed upon hitting an invisible force field. Page 80, Dana realizes that they are being used as puppets.

 

 

CRISIS & CLIMAX

Trapped and afraid, Holden and Dana turn back for the cabin, but Holden is soon killed by one of the zombies. Dana makes a final stand, and it appears that her death is imminent, until she is saved by Marty, who has miraculously survived. The two go down into an elevator that Marty discovered.

They make their way through the labyrinth of a structure, filled with an assortment of monsters, each more terrifying than the last. Rather than die without a fight, Dana and Marty release the monsters into the compound.

Page 101, they meet the organization’s director (Sigourney Weaver), who explains to them the gravity of the situation. They have been selected as sacrifices to the ancient, god-like beings that live underground. Only human sacrifice keeps the gods asleep. The director reveals that Dana, the virgin, may live as long as Marty dies. Dana chooses to spare Marty and the two await the impending destruction.

 

DENOUMENT

Dana and Marty sit down to enjoy a joint as the gods wake and break free from the Earth.

 

Founded in 1998, the BlueCat Screenplay Competition seeks to develop and discover unknown screenwriters. For 2016 BlueCat Screenplay Competition submission information, click here.

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