The Cabin in the Woods Interview with Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard

I had the opportunity to sit down with a small group of people and talk to the cast and crew of The Cabin in the Woods  in individual sessions. The most interesting interview, by far, was with Drew Goddard (Director/Writer) and Joss Whedon (Writer). I am very excited to finally be able to share this with you, but be warned that this interview does contain small spoilers. If you would like a spoiler free account of what I thought of The Cabin in the Woods head here otherwise enjoy the interview.

Ryan: Alright guys, this is the be all end all of horror movies. Thank you for ending horror. (Laughs)

Joss Whedon: There was too much horror in the world, so I decided to do something about it.

Ryan: What brought on the idea to make this mash-up of horror films?

Joss: Our desire to see more horror films.

Drew: We love horror movies. This movie came about because we said: “alright if we could do anything we wanted what would we do?” It was a labor of love rather than an assignment from a studio.

Joss: The idea has an element of absurdity. Not that it is a comedy, it is a genuine horror movie. When you’re thinking of something that is completely absurd you’re probably speaking with Drew. (Looks at Drew) You’re like “Lets get some submarines and some Nazis and just go cruising around” You are the go to guy.

Press: In terms of writing the script was it something that felt easy or were there more pieces that needed to be put together?

Joss: Structurally it came together, I mean it came with a structure. The idea was the structure which is very rare. Then the amount of work it took to put them together in writing and particularly in filming you think: Why didn’t I just build a smaller structure?

Ryan: So when are we going to see the feature length Unicorn horror movie?

Joss: I hope it is soon.

Drew: I hope it is soon.

Joss: I hope that Mia Sara is in it.

Press: Are you worried about the marketing of the film? I know you are trying to keep the mystery, but at the same time it just looks like the typical teenage, sex, horror, comedy.

Joss: We have been worried about the marketing for this movie since before we wrote it.

Drew: It is a tricky balance I mean, as a film maker I wish we didn’t have to market anything, I wish we didn’t have to show anything I wish people would just go.  But that is not the world we live in and I respect that you want to tell people: “Hey this is worth your time.” We understand that movies are expensive and we want to earn every cent of your dollar, because we are here to entertain you.

Joss: Lionsgate has been really great, because they understand. They have approached it from the stance of if you love horror this is a classic horror movie, but there is more behind it. If you don’t love horror, you’re in the party too. They structured their campaign in the same way we structured the film. We say up front that there is more at work here than kids going to a cabin in the woods. I think they have done a really great job of teasing it out.

Press: What is it like trying to reinvent Horror?

Drew: I don’t ever think we set out to reinvent the genre, and I don’t think you can. I think that’s a faulty way to start. I think you just have to tell a story you love and you’re passionate about and see where it takes you. This movie just sprang from the fact that we love horror movies and just wanted to put our spin on it.

Joss: You know it  is not like when you cover a great song you’re saying “they did it wrong”. It’s more that I like that too and maybe I’ve got a slightly different take on how that could be orchestrated, but I still love that song.

Press: How hard is it to get studios to buy into that concept? Because they like to do the same thing time after time.

Joss: We got two studios to do it.

Drew: It is tricky though, you’re right. I think one of the things we did for this that helped us. We did a lot of work ahead of time before we brought it to a studio. So they could see the whole vision before they said yes. I think if we had pitched this movie to a studio they would have closed the door on us, but we wrote the script, we did the budget. We put the package together so that the studio could be comfortable with what it is we are trying to do and luckily once we did that MGM bought it right away. They couldn’t have been more supportive. When Lionsgate bought it they said don’t change a frame. They got what we were trying to do, but I think that it is because we did so much work ahead of time that it helped them feel comfortable.

Press: At what point did you realize that the film wasn’t going to be released and does it help you today that Chris  Hemsworth is now an international star?

Joss: Well, You know, We are not angry at Chris. And we aren’t angry at Jessie for being on Grey’s Anatomy. That is okay if that is what they want to do with their time. It was a very dark cloud and this is an extraordinary silver lining. It is a good time for it to be coming out and I feel like Lionsgate is the right studio to be putting it out. Everything that has fallen apart has come together in an extraordinary way. It was really painful and I think even more so for Drew. Because he is a Director and for the last three years no one has got to see that. That is extremely frustrating, but now it feels very serendipitous.

Press: Drew, has that had an impact on what you want to do, because no one had seen The Cabin in the Woods?

Drew: Not really, because  I’ve been fortunate that I’ve been able to wear many hats. I can be a Screenwriter I can be a Director, I can write comic books. And my career has been a meshing of all those things, and it is fun to shift gears.  I just had faith, I love this movie, I knew sooner or later it was going to come out. Everything that has happened has been the best case scenario for us. We’re at a studio that love us, all our actors have gone on to become stars. We joke, but it is like be careful what you worry about.  This is actually that best thing that could have happened to us. We are excited.

Ryan: Do you feel like there is a sequel in there?

Drew: This is easily the most fun I’ve ever had working on any project, so if there is an opportunity to return to this world I will be the first in line.

Joss: I’ll be cutting in front of you. I’ll let you wait all night and then I’ll cut in front of you.

Ryan: Joss can tell you, his fans are going to be all over you.

Joss: I can tell you which ones too.

Press: What is it like to try and create a secret and then try and keep it a secret?

Drew: You know what is nice is that people who have seen it are actually protecting the movie for us. People who have seen it say it is better to be surprised, because they were surprised. They don’t want to ruin it for other people. In the day in age that we live in, if people want to be spoiled they can be, but the trick is I don’t think most people do want to be spoiled. I think most people want to be surprised, I think most people want to experience something new and fresh. And it is all about protecting those people. The people that don’t want to have it spoiled and I find that audiences who have seen it are doing that work for us.

Joss: You know we were talking about that last night. It means that they didn’t just enjoy it, it means they actually care. They have fertilized it and that is all you can ask for.

Press: How close is this to what you originally wrote? How much was left on the cutting room floor?

Drew: You know there is no Directors cut. This is the Directors cut.

Joss: This is probably more purely close to what we wrote than anything I’ve ever made.

Ryan: That collapsible bong should be a part of the collector’s edition DVD packaging.

Drew: That is a good idea. I keep telling Lionsgate that if they want to make a bunch of money, they need to make that thing.

Joss: I wanted to give them out as gifts to the crew.

Ryan: Thanks.

Joss and Drew: Thanks!

By Ryan Davis

About Ryan Davis

Ryan is the Founder of Lost in Reviews, a member of The Kansas City Film Critic's Circle, and a key component in the movement to digitally restore the 1986 classic film The Gate. Ryan is also the co-host of Blu Monday a DVD and Blu Ray review show which Lost in Reviews co-founder Angela Davis also appears. While he may be a film and music snob, that doesn't mean you can't be friends. Well it could if you don't like the same bands or films he does, overall it might be best to avoid the subject all together.

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