The Cabin in the Woods

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
The Cabin in the Woods Movie Poster Image
Popular with kidsParents recommend
Clever but very bloody deconstruction of horror movies.
  • R
  • 2012
  • 95 minutes

Parents say

age 16+
Based on 12 reviews

Kids say

age 14+
Based on 65 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

The Cabin in the Woods takes a very sinister, cynical view of humanity in general; the best it has to say about people that is that we have a strong will to live.

Positive Role Models & Representations

None of the main characters can really be considered a role model. One minor character -- a security guard -- questions what's going on, frowns upon it, and refuses to participate. Unfortunately, he doesn't affect the outcome at all.


The Cabin in the Woods starts out like a "normal" horror movie, with zombie attacks, blood, and gore. There's stabbing, sawing, and a kind of "steel jaws"/bear trap weapon on a chain. Viewers see severed heads, spraying blood, throat-stabbing, motorcycle crashing, and falling from heights. There's also gory painting, and terrifying imagery is read aloud from a diary. Then things get even more intense, with dozens of new monsters and dozens of quick images of various attacks -- i.e. suicide, guns and shooting, monsters eating people, and gallons of blood. It stops short of torture, however, and the violence is all intentionally over-the-top.


A teen girl is seen topless and engaging in foreplay with her boyfriend (they're interrupted). Another couple is seen kissing. A teen girl is seen in her panties, and men's naked torsos are shown. Another teen girl pretends to make out with a stuffed wolf during a game of "truth or dare." Heavy sexual innuendo and banter throughout.


Language is very strong, but not constant. It includes many uses of "f--k," "s--t," "goddamn," "damn," "puss out," "boobies," "ass," "hell," "damn," "goddamn," and "oh my God."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

One of the teens is a heavy, constant pot smoker -- he even has a special bong that collapses to look like a steel coffee mug. Other teens are seen drinking beer. Grown-ups drink beer, tequila, and other alcoholic beverages at a party.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Cabin in the Woods is a very-self aware, sometimes tongue-in-cheek horror movie (like Scream or Tucker and Dale vs. Evil). It starts out as a typical "carload of teens goes to spend the weekend in the country" scary movie, but then it adds some sinister twists. Throughout the whole thing, you can expect tons of violence, gore, and blood, though it stops short of "torture porn" (a la the Saw and Hostel movies). Language is also very strong (including "f--k," "s--t," and more), as is sexuality -- there's one topless scene, plus heavy sexual banter and behavior. One teen is a regular pot smoker, and other teens -- as well as adults -- drink beer, tequila, and more. Writer Joss Whedon has legions of devoted fans, many of them teens, but The Cabin in the Woods is really too much for any but the most mature teens.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bymrzgunz August 20, 2012

Common Sense needed more common sense with this one...

The swearing is constant, especially F***. I don't know what movie Common Sense Media was watching when they wrote this review, but the profanity was way... Continue reading
Written byAnonymous November 24, 2018

The butt review

Cabin in the woods is like saw, there is bloody gory violence throughout the movie. The movie has a lot of sex throughout the movie and there are parts where th... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written bycerealkiller189 April 13, 2012

Could have had the potential to be a lot scarier.......

Saw this yesterday on opening weekend.And I've got to say this pretty much killed my thinking of Lionsgate.First,it starts off slow,like a normal horror mo... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written bypillowduck May 9, 2021

Cool monsters! Fun characters! A bit dumb, and the ending... over the top.

I liked it overall, but it should have been much simpler. That sugarplum fairy though 0-0

What's the story?

In THE CABIN IN TEH WOODS, agroup of college kids --including hunky Curt (Chris Hemsworth) -- piles into an RV and heads for a cabin in the woods for a fun, blow-out weekend of swimming, sex, drinking, and smoking pot. At the same time, a couple of scientist/engineer types (Richard Jenkins and Bradley Whitford) check into a control room and start monitoring the teens. After a while, the teens stumble upon a cellar full of strange objects. The virginal Dana (Kristen Connolly) begins reading from an old diary and apparently awakens a family of zombies. The teens begin to realize that something is amiss, but can they withstand the homicidal zombies long enough to find out?

Is it any good?

Veteran writer Joss Whedon and first-time director Drew Goddard deconstruct the horror genre like never before with this film. Their effort isn't unlike Scream or Tucker and Dale vs. Evil, but it's a great deal more spectacular. It begins very similarly to movies like The Evil Dead, Creature, and Shark Night, but before it grows stale, The Cabin in the Woods starts dropping hints that it's no ordinary horror movie. It keeps the mystery up until the final blow-out reel, where it probably gives away a bit too much. But by that time, it has wildly succeeded.

Goddard gets fun performances from the cast, especially Jenkins and Whitford, who chat playfully without disclosing too much vital information. The Cabin in the Woods also makes the most of its cross between horror and humor, between the dark, dank cabin and the white, clinical control room. Where the movie arguably falls short is in its scare factor; it's not particularly frightening, though it is very clever and very entertaining.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about what point The Cabin in the Woods is making. Is the message purely cynical and sinister, or does it have anything positive to say? Does it help to have seen a lot of horror movies in order to "get" this one?

  • Could the movie succeed without its extreme violence?

  • Is The Cabin in the Woods scary? Does it succeed as a horror movie, as well as a commentary on other horror movies?

  • Are any of these characters admirable in any way? Why or why not?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love scares

Themes & Topics

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