Just when you thought the horror genre couldn’t be fun anymore along came Cabin in the Woods; a movie that took the tried and true “cabin in the woods” subgenre and turned it, and the horror genre as a whole, on its ear. Without spoiling too much (trust me, the less you know about the plot the better) the movie is about a diverse group of college friends who head to a remote cabin (in the woods) for some fun, but wind up being secretly watched and manipulated by two humdrum desk jockeys who nefariously plot their demise. This week Cabin in the Woods is released on DVD, Blu-ray, and VOD and we had a chance to catch up with writer/ director Drew Goddard to find out what we could look forward to on the home entertainment release.
Like his movie, Drew had a great sense of humor about himself and said fans could expect “more of the same stupidity you saw with Cabin in the Woods on the DVD."
Drew said he “felt like the making of the movie was almost as ridiculous and absurd as the movie itself. We had people following us and documenting how the hell we made this silly movie.” Lionsgate managed to assemble all of that footage into a “making of” segment that sounds almost as entertaining as the movie.
As a huge horror fan/ genre movie completist myself, I quickly recognized a kindred spirit in Goddard who said he “couldn’t make this movie” if he wasn’t a horror fan and that Cabin was "very much a love letter to the genre on one level”. Drew cited The Thing, Alien, and A Nightmare on Elm St. Part 3 as some of his favorite genre movies of all time, but admitted that “it depends what day you ask him” as he has so many favorites.
Cabin in the Woods manages to equally celebrate the horror genre and cleverly subvert it, but Goddard said he (and co-writer Joss Whedon) “didn’t set out to deconstruct the genre.” Originally the two (who’ve been working together since the TV series Buffy the Vampire Slayer) didn’t “put that much thought into it.” The script came from the “simple place of ‘hey, we want to make a horror movie’ and it got more and more absurd as we talked about it.” Eventually they “settled on cabin type movies because we loved them and we knew we could do them for cheap” and “then it blossomed into the movie it became.
Goddard and Whedon “spent months working on the outline, getting the story as tight as we can” and then wrote the script as fast as they possibly could. Drew credited Joss with the idea of beginning the movie by revealing the meddling office workers who control the behind-the-scenes scares; essentially showing their hand right away.
Plenty of lazy horror movies might have made that reveal their midpoint (or even finale) but Drew said Whedon “very rarely plays coy with the audience. His story telling is much more about everybody being on the same page and dealing with the complications of that than it is about keeping secrets from the audience. If you look at Buffy or Angel there’s not a lot of secrets; there’s more ‘oh my god I can’t believe that’s about to happen’”.
When I originally saw Cabin in the Woods I felt like it was a movie that was ultimately saying genre conventions are important. Where Scream (1996) lovingly breaks down horror conventions, Cabin in the Woods proudly and uniquely embraces them (going so far as to force classic horror archetypes like jock, slut, and virgin onto its multifaceted characters).
“At the end of the day we do celebrate conventions” Goddard said “but it’s never conventions that bother me when I watch movies, its lack of love that bothers me. I can always feel it when people don’t care about what they are making and that drives me insane. I’m happy with a nice conventional movie if the love is there. If people don’t care it just becomes, in the case of horror films, one death after another. That’s what gets my blood up.”
Although Cabin in the Woods had one of the more definitive endings in recent memory, longtime horror fans have seen plenty of sequels spun out of less. So I had to ask, any chance we’d be seeing a Cabin sequel? Drew wasn’t opposed to it saying there’s “part of me that wants to do it” but it’s a question of “Joss and I sitting down and figuring out if there is a story worth telling” because neither of them want to “do it just to do a sequel. s there more story to be told?” I for one sure hope so!
Cabin in the Woods is available on DVD, Blu-ray, and VOD this week and is an absolutely “must see” for genre fans. Btw, if Cabin whets your appetite for other genre bending movies I’d recommend Return to Horror High (1987) and Night of the Creeps (1986).