Crushing Life in the Anthropocene? Destroying Simulated "Nature" in The Cabin in the Woods




Horror Film, Anthropocene, Nature, Hyperreality, Simulation


The Cabin in the Woods (2011) is a highly self-reflexive movie that is aware of its generic roots. In particular, the film struggles with the meaning of “the woods” in the horror genre. Cabin’s central twist in this respect is that the titular “woods” are not untamed nature, but rather a place of artifice. Cabin’s woods are not uncanny because they are far removed from “civilization,” but rather exactly because they are part of it. The film’s emphasis on the artificiality of nature suggests that the concept of “nature” is exactly that—a concept, a cultural construct, loaded with meaning. The film’s ending envisions the end of that discursive construct—but for that to happen, humankind must vanish.

Author Biography

Michael Fuchs, University of Graz

Michael Fuchs is a fixed-term assistant professor in American Studies at the University of Graz in Austria. He has co-edited six essay collections, including ConFiguring America: Iconic Figures, Visuality, and the American Identity (2013) and Intermedia Games—Games Inter Media: Video Games and Intermediality (2019). In addition, he has authored and co-authored more than fifty published and forthcoming journal articles and book chapters on horror and adult cinema, American television, contemporary American literature, video games, and comics.


Augé, M. (1995). Non-places: An introduction to supermodernity (J. Howe, Trans.). London: Verso Books.

Brophy, P. (1986). Horrality: The textuality of contemporary horror films. Screen, 27(1), 2–13.

Brown, W. (2013). Supercinema: Film-philosophy for the digital age. London: Berghahn Books.

Buell, F. (2014). Global warming as literary narrative. Philological quarterly, 93(3), 261–294.

Buell, L. (1995). The environmental imagination: Thoreau, nature writing, and the formation of American culture. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press.

Buell, L., Heise, Ursula K., and Thornber K. (2011). Literature and environment. Annual review of environment and resources, 36, 417–440.

Burgin, V. (1986). Between. London: Basil Blackwell.

Canavan, Gerry (2013/14). “Something nightmares are from”: Metacommentary in Joss Whedon’s The cabin in the woods. Slayage: The journal of the Whedon studies association, 10(2)/11(1).

Clark, N. (1997). Panic ecology: Nature in the age of superconductivity. Theory, Culture & Society, 14(1), 77–96.

Clover, C. J. (1992). Men, women, and chain saws: Gender in the modern horror film. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Creed, B. (1993). The monstrous-feminine: Film, feminism, psychoanalysis. London: Routledge.

Cronon, W. J. (1996). The trouble with wilderness; or, getting back to the wrong nature. Environmental history, 1(1), 7–28.

Danielewski, M. Z. (2000). House of leaves. New York: Pantheon Books.

Deleuze, G. (1994). Difference and repetition (P. Patton, Trans.). New York: Columbia University Press.

Derrida, J. & Roudinesco, E. (2004). For what tomorrow …: A dialogue (J. Fort, Trans.). Stanford: Stanford University Press.

Dika, V. (1990). Games of terror: Halloween, Friday the 13th, and the films of the stalker cycle. Rutherford, NJ: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press.

Freud, S. (2001). The “uncanny” (J. Strachey et al., Trans.). In J. Strachey (Ed.), The standard edition of the complete psychological works of Sigmund Freud, vol. 17: Infantile neurosis and other works (pp. 217–256). London: Vintage.

Garrard, G. (2012). Ecocriticism (2nd ed.). London: Routledge.

Gifford, T. (1996). The social construction of nature. Interdisciplinary studies in literature and environment, 3(2), 27–35.

Goddard, D. (Director). (2011). The cabin in the woods [Film]. Lions Gate.

Gray, J. (2002). Straw dogs: Thoughts on humans and other animals. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

Grosz, E. (2011). Becoming undone: Darwinian reflections on life, politics, and art. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

Hayles, N. K. (2002). Saving the subject: Remediation in House of leaves. American literature, 74(4), 779–806.

Hills, M. (2005). The pleasures of horror. London: Continuum Books.

Joshi, S. T. (1999). Introduction. In S. T. Joshi (Ed.), The call of Cthulhu and other weird stories (pp. vii–xx). New York: Penguin.

Kuhn, A. (1990). Intertexts: Introduction. In A. Kuhn (Ed.), Alien zone: Cultural theory and contemporary science fiction cinema (pp. 177–182). London: Verso Books.

Le Grice, M. (2001). Experimental cinema in the digital age. London: BFI.

Leffler, Y. (2000). Horror as pleasure: The aesthetics of horror fiction (S. Death, Trans.). Stockholm: Almqvist & Wiksell.

Ligotti, T. (2010). The conspiracy against the human race: A contrivance of horror. New York: Hippocampus Press.

Lisboa, M. M. (2011). The end of the world: Apocalypse and its aftermath in Western culture. Oxford: Open Book Publishers.

Lotman, Y. M. (1990). Universe of the mind: A semiotic theory of culture (A. Shukman, Trans.). London: I. B. Tauris.

Lotman, Y. M. (1977). The structure of the artistic text (G. Lenhoff and R. Vroon, Trans.). Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.

MacCormack, P. (2016). Lovecraft’s cosmic ethics. In C. H. Sederholm & J. A. Weinstock (Eds.), The age of Lovecraft. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. Kindle edition.

Mogen, D., Sanders, S. P., and Karpinski, J. B. (1993). Introduction. In D.

Mogen, S. P. Sanders, and J. B. Karpinski (Eds.), Frontier gothic: Terror and wonder at the frontier in American literature (pp. 13–27). Rutherford, NJ: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press.

Mulvey, L. (1975). Visual pleasure and narrative cinema. Screen, 16(3): 6–18.

Nietzsche, F. (2000). On the genealogy of morals. In W. Kaufmann (Trans. & Ed.), Basic writings of Nietzsche (pp. 437–599). New York: Modern Library.

Ortner, S. B. (1974). Is female to male as nature is to culture? In M. Z. Rosaldo & L. Lamphere (Eds.), Woman, culture, and society (pp. 68–87). Stanford: Stanford University Press.

Poliquin, R. (2012). The breathless zoo: Taxidermy and the cultures of longing. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press.

Pugh, S. (1988). Garden—nature—language. Manchester: Manchester University Press.

Rossini, M. (2014). “I am not an animal! I am a human being! I … am … a man!” Is female to male as nature is to culture? In E. Andersson Cederholm et al. (Eds.), Exploring the animal turn: Human–animal relations in science, society and culture (pp. 111–124). Lund: Pufendorfinstitutet.

Salomon, R. B. (2002). Mazes of the serpent: An anatomy of horror narrative. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.

Semonin, P. (2000). American monster: How the nation’s first prehistoric creature became a symbol of national identity. New York: New York University Press.

Sharrett, C. (1996). The horror film in neoconservative culture. In B. K. Grant (Ed.), The dread of difference: Gender and the horror film (pp. 253–278). Austin: University of Texas Press.

Spooner, C. (2006). Contemporary gothic. London: Reaktion Books.

Stevick, P. (1981). Alternative pleasures: Post-realist fiction and the tradition. Urbana: University of Illinois Press.

Wagner, K. A. (2013/14). Haven’t we been here before? The cabin in the woods, the horror genre, and placelessness. Slayage: The journal of the Whedon studies association 10(2)/11(1).

Weinstock, J. A. (2014). Gothic and the new American republic, 1770–1800. In G. Byron & D. Townshend (Eds.), Gothic world (pp. 27–37). London: Routledge.

Wollen, P. (1976). “Ontology” and “materialism” in film. Screen, 17(1), 7–25.




How to Cite

Fuchs, M. (2020). Crushing Life in the Anthropocene? Destroying Simulated "Nature" in The Cabin in the Woods. CINEJ Cinema Journal, 8(2), 62–93.