The Refrigerator Logic of “The Cabin In the Woods”



By Trylon volunteer Dave Berglund


There is a moment in The Cabin in the Woods that aptly fulfills what the late, great Alfred Hitchcock referred to as “refrigerator logic.” Refrigerator logic is, essentially, something nonsensical a filmmaker attempts to slip by viewers in the heat of their viewing experience. They are the things you only become puzzled by long after a viewing, usually when opening the refrigerator for a late night snack. They are what solicit the response, “Wait a minute…”


Such logic usually manifests itself in small moments that help the plot progress – someone peripheral to the plot happening volunteer a vital piece of information, a hero serendipitously arriving without reason, or countless other deus-ex-machinas.


Usually for these moments to work, viewers must be so engaged in a film to be distracted enough not to question. In truth, there is likely no better place for refrigerator logic than a good horror movie – who can really think all that deeply when held in frightened suspense?


I believe that with The Cabin in the Woods, director Drew Goddard and writer Joss Whedon knew this full well, for their ballsy bit of refrigerator logic is not only placed at the height of the film’s suspense, but fulfills the most basic desire of any horror movie buff – utter chaos. It is both so clearly ridiculous and so deftly placed that most people do not notice it, likely because most do not wish to question it.


(Okay, so now is the moment when I talk about the moment itself – if you are averse to spoilers, you should likely stop reading, buy tickets, and see the film. Trust me, it will be well worth it.)


The moment I reference is when our determined heroes have their backs against the wall, waiting to die, only to find a “Purge” button which unleashes their tormentors against their captors – countless villains, ghouls, and monsters from every walk of horror you can imagine. It is poetic justice, and it makes no sense. Why in the world would any organization that has imprisoned unimaginable evil have a button that would release them at all into their own complex?


In the world of the film, there is no answer to this, but in the world of the filmmakers, there is a simple one – because, hell yeah. We want to see that, and for any horror movie buff, this moment and its aftermath are pure bliss. I, for one, am glad the “Purge” button exists – only once in a rare while does a film present an opportunity to fulfill our silliest entertainment desires, and I am happy Goddard and Whedon recognize this. I didn’t question the “Purge” button when I saw the film, and I don’t question it in retrospect – it is simply too awesome to not exist. — Dave Berglund


The Cabin In the Woods screens at the Trylon Friday and Saturday, October 24 and 25 at 7:00 and 9:00, and Sunday, October 26 at 5:00 and 7:00.  Get your tickets here!


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