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Representation: The Cabin in the Woods (Goddard, 2012)


1. What were Jeremy Tunstall's 4 character roles for women and do they apply to The Cabin in the Woods?

Jeremy Tunstall identified four character roles for women in films, these were: - Marital - Domestic - Consumer - Sexual These roles can be applied to the female characters in The Cabin in The Woods, however there are only two main female characters, Jules and Dana. Jules is the one female that can easily be placed within a role (the sexual character role), she undergoes mental and physical transformations during the film that convert her from being intelligent and potentially a ‘final girl’ to a sex object and the ‘whore’ of the group to tease the male characters and to follow the typical and common character archetypes found in horror films. The fireplace scene and wolf dare is an example of her sexual behaviour. Dana is the other main female character in the film. She is portrayed to be more withheld and reserved within herself and studies, although it is said that she is not virginal she is still somewhat ‘frigid’. This can be seen when both her and Holden show interest within each other, they are both attracted to each other but are respectful too. An example of this is in the scene with the one way mirror, Holden could of taken advantage of the situation and made her his ‘sex object’ but he chose to inform her of the mirror situation and swapped rooms. It is then shown that Holden is undressing as she watches through the mirror, it could now be said that he could be seen as her ‘sex object’. After all of this and their opportunities they are both only attracted to each other on an intellectual level rather than a sexual desire. She is the final girl, in the film as she takes on the role of a male and her androgyny keeps her from being classified by these roles.


2. How is Dana typical of Clover's 'Final Girl' theory? Please mention: the ending; Dana's appearance and her actions during the film.

Dana is the first girl we see and are introduced to, suggesting already that she is the main character and possibly the final girl. Although at the beginning of the film we see her dancing in her underwear that could suggest otherwise (even though she may not appear to of been the stereotypical blonde slut archetype it is an initial thought), until we are introduced to Jules then we know she is not the blonde ‘classed whore’ of the group within the film. Dana is androgynous and innocent however able to fight back all of the monsters that come her way, which is commonly shown by a male character strength to fight. Dana fights because she does not accept her fate which is the opposite to Jules who is killed off early in the film. Another factor why she clearly fits Clover’s ‘Final Girl’ theory via her appearance; short hair and the way she dresses (ripped/worn denim three quarter lengths etc.) is not feminine but she does not overhaul for attention from her appearance and would much rather study. (at the start of the film she is distressing about her books and the amount of work she had to complete). She also does not partake whilst the other members of the group take drugs and drink alcohol. However, Dana does go against the final girl theory by not being virginal, and pure because at the final scene Dana smokes marijuana with Marty. I think this is because they have already broken so many conventions of what should happen to each archetype etc. through the film, Marty is still miraculously alive due to the amount of drugs he has taken, I believe she has done this to ‘taint’ herself to further ‘break the rules’


3. Jules undergoes mental and physical transformations during the film, what are they and how do they cause her to become a horror archetype?

Jules was selected to portray the whore of the group and her transformation occurs before the film began. She didn’t already have the traits to be the chosen character role, therefore the laboratory had to make changes to her. It's revealed that Lin the scientist put with toxins that slow down her cognitive ability. Once in the cabin the group are sprayed by pheromones and other chemicals being pumped into the cabin to make the group act more sexually charged and aggressive than usual. This is to explain how in every horror movie the characters seemingly start doing the opposite of what normal people would do in the situation. Having dyed Jules’ hair it has taken away her pre-medical student intelligence which needed to happen to allow her to be specifically classed as the ‘whore’ of the group, now that her hair is blonde and her intelligence is taken away she has become the cliché dumb blonde which the voyeurs can use. The pheromone mist causes her to act in a very sexual way causing her to take part in things she wouldn’t normally, seductively dancing on the fireplace and she beings to flirt with everyone in front of her boyfriend also when dared to kiss the wolf head, she does with passion, leaving the other group members baffled and wondering what has made her act so abnormally but settle with the idea of that it is due to the influence of alcohol. When sprayed again with the mist outside, she agrees to have sex with Curt, in the woods where she is easily killed because of her absence thought of her surroundings.


Athlete, Scholar, Fool, Whore, Virgin These archetypes are toyed by this film, as the entire ritual within the film is based upon them. These are what the five characters are each supposed to represent, this is why they are chosen but some go against the typical conventions of what a specific archetype should look/act like. For example once the group arrived at the cabin, Curt was wearing a football jersey increasing his ‘jock-like’ counter persona. Dana and Marty both break from their conventions, by surviving whilst not being pure. In the ritual the 'whore' must die first. This is also very common in other horror films. She has a very similar death to Annie and Lynda from Halloween. They are all seen as tainted and therefore must die, which they do. The purpose of this ritual is to fulfil the terms of an ancient treaty with powerful, sleeping, evil gods who demand a specific human blood sacrifice every so often in order to remain dormant.


4. Is Mulvey's Male Gaze theory exemplified in the film and if so, how? Think about framing, camera angles and POV shots.

Mulvey’s theory of male gaze is apparent in The Cabin in The Woods, as most of the shots with a female within the frame lean towards the multiple use to be point of view shots throughout the film. Allowing the females to be seen from a male perspective which makes them appear and an object to the audience. One example from the film is when Jules is erotically dancing on the fireplace in front of the group, the shot used is a slow tilt from her legs to her upper body, making the view a part of the audience to her performance, as if we are ‘checking her out’ by looking at her from up and down. The low shot gives a sense that she has dominance and superiority over the male members of the groups by seducing them, which could appeal to some male viewers. Another example is within the action scene on the dock when Dana tried to escape the monster but is left crawling to survive, the angle of the shot it slightly above Dana which makes her appear inferior and venerable to the voyeurs.


5. In the film we, as an audience, are made to be voyeurs; when does this happen and why is it important in regards to representation of character The audience mainly act as voyeurs in the sexual scenes of this film. For example when Dana is looking at Holden through the secret mirror in the room and Jules and Curt are having sex in the woods, we as the voyeurs are watching them without them knowing. From this we get a real representation and perspective of what the characters are like because we see the way they would behave when they're not aware they are being watched.

6. summarise the way women are represented in The Cabin in the Woods. Are they objectified and there to provide satisfaction for heterosexual males and/or do they fulfil another role/purpose? In The Cabin in the Woods There are two different representations of women. At times the women are seen as sex objects (mainly Jules) in the film, as we see in the scenes where Jules transforms into the role of 'The Whore' so that the males in the film can get pleasure from the scenes. However we know that before the film she was forced to undergo mental and physical transformations during the film that convert her from being intelligent and potentially a ‘final girl’ to a sex object, she was unaware of these changes and they were not done by choice, if they hadn’t of been forced on her then maybe there could have been two final girl. They chose her fate for her, she wasn’t responsible yet only under the influence which she could not control. This could also be argued that because the scientists depicted what happened to Jules as well as the other members of the group (mover over with Jules as she was drastically changed from her once intelligent self), that it suggests that women are easily controlled. However this can not be said the same for Dana, who portrayed women to be determined, powerful and level headed individuals. She shows at multiple times that she can look after herself and she has a lot of self respect. She does not have the desire to be desired, only to be content with herself, which she is. Dana and Holden we both seen as sex objects in the mirror scene however they both had a mutual respect for one another. Jules on the other hand puts across a slutty image of women. She appears in the film as if she is there just to satisfy the male's needs of seeing an 'easy' girl on the screen. Whilst Dana becomes the final girl, fighting with everything she has to survive and along side a male (Marty) who he himself gives, out of the two deadliest/impacting weapons he is holding (the handgun) to Dana, implying that she is the stronger more daring one.


The cabin in the woods  
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