On the subtle and evocative costuming of The Cabin in the Woods
The film is all about subverting the expectations of a horror film. The costuming is important here in establishing the initial roles and cluing us in as they roles change.
The film’s costume designer Shawna Trpcic created a subtle reversal for the main characters – five archetypes from horror movie folklore. Think of the teenage victims in Halloween, A Nightmare on Elm Street or Friday the 13th; they are all variations of the underwear flashing tramp, the bespectacled academic, the jock in his Varsity jacket, the plain shirt wearing innocent girl and the scruffy stoner. The Cabin in the Woods establishes these personalities, stereotypes really, in the first ten minutes, only to change them around completely during the first act. Costume is one of the most ingenious signifiers of this.
The first of the archetypes we meet is Dana, dancing in her knickers in front of an open window and revealed to have recently had an affair with her tutor; obviously she is the tramp or Whore (Kristen Connolly). Then we see her friend Jules in a floral dress and new blonde hair. Jules (Anna Hutchison) is in a stable relationship with boyfriend Curt (Chris Hemsworth); Jules is the innocent girl or Virgin. Curt wears a plain grey t-shirt and is evidently book-smart; he is the geek or Scholar. Curt’s friend Holden (Jesse Williams) arrives catching a football in a blue hooded sweatshirt; clearly the jock or Athlete. And finally pot smoker Marty in a shabby cardigan and shirt; Marty (Fran Kranz) is the stoner or Fool.
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