The Cabin in the Woods is nothing short of a modern horror masterpiece. Equal parts meta-commentary and straight up comedy, it expertly toes the line between self-reflection and genuine scares, driven in large part by the creative minds behind it. It was penned by the powerhouse team of Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard, scoring a stellar 92% on Rotten Tomatoes. Given the relative scarcity of quality horror nowadays, it represented a welcome alternative to the influx of needless sequels and reboots. All this has inevitably led to talk about a follow-up effort that in all honesty we’d be better off without.
There’s no denying the quality of The Cabin in the Woods. It’s a wildly enjoyable 95 minutes driven forward by Joss Whedon’s usual cast of characters and directed by a skilled hand in Goddard. All this is exactly why a sequel should never come to pass. Statements from an interview Goddard did with Den of Geek tell us the need for this comes straight from the studio in charge, MGM. Even so, it’s all merely theoretical at this point; the screenplay hasn’t been written, and no one’s been told that this is absolutely happening quite yet. But the fact still stands: that we’re even discussing the possibility does a disservice to an amazing movie.
A sequel was never intended, so why not leave it alone?
In that same interview with Den of Geek, Drew Goddard notes that he and Whedon intentionally left the ending of TCITW close-ended. In it, the end of the world comes about at the hands of the Ancient Ones after a ritual human sacrifice goes awry. There was never anything that would suggest the possibility of a follow-up movie for all too thought-out reasons. All the main characters are presumed dead, the world as we know it is over, and there’s little (if any) wiggle room around that.
It makes no sense for MGM to want a sequel for a very simple reason
What is it that usually drives a studio toward making a full-on franchise of a standalone movie? Usually, it’s money. A movie that makes hundreds of millions of dollars will never be allowed to exist without at least one sequel, saving Hollywood time and energy on conceiving original, riskier properties. One would assume given the positive critical ratings of Cabin in the Woods and discussion of a sequel, that it made a killing at the box office. In reality though, it made just $66 million worldwide, gaining much of its buzz through the usual cult following that Joss Whedon and friends specialize in.
Clearly the studio sees franchise potential if it wants a sequel, but Cabin in the Woods isn’t exactly known for its accessibility. Its self-referential commentary on the horror genre and gory sensibilities don’t exactly make it a date movie, and it carries a hard R-rating that keeps it from being family-friendly. Any sequel would likely be focused around marketability and, in turn, would take away the things that made the original so amazing to begin with.
Some movies are better left un-franchised
It makes sense to want more of a good thing. The film industry revels in excess, evidenced by the eight Harry Potter movies, four Hunger Game installments, and five Twilight films that made it out into the world. We love franchises because the story never ends. We’re given a constant supply of our favorite characters and adventures, whereas The Cabin in the Woods was a tragically short 95 minutes long. By today’s standards, it’s a runtime far below the average for adult movies, and the first instinct is to demand more.
It would serve us well to resist that instinct in this particular case. Sometimes, less is more. Needlessly making a sequel just because we enjoyed the original is no justification for dragging out a story well past its expiration date. Let TCITW stand alone as the masterwork of its genre it already is, and don’t taint that legacy with a shoehorned sequel that only diminishes the accomplishes of its predecessor. And if you haven’t seen the movie at all? Take the 95 minutes out of your night sometime this October, and you’ll understand why we should leave well enough alone.
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