'Buffy's' Drew Goddard and Joss Whedon reunite for 'Cabin in the Woods'

'Buffy's' Drew Goddard and Joss Whedon reunite for 'Cabin in the Woods'
Courtesy of Lionsgate

The Cabin in the Woods tells the story of five friends -- Dana (Kristen Connolly), Curt (Chris Hemsworth), Jules (Anna Hutchison), Marty (Fran Kranz), and Holden (Jesse Williams) -- who take a trip to an isolated cabin in the woods. What begins as a typical Hollywood horror film setup quickly changes as the audience is introduced to a control room run by Hadley (Bradley Whitford) and Sitterson (Richard Jenkins). The film takes its audience on an unexpected journey, and challenges people to take a deeper look at society. It was produced by Joss Whedon, and directed by Drew Goddard. The two met on the set of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and wrote The Cabin in the Woods screenplay together.

"The horror film is merely the jumping-off point for the inherent questions about humanity that the genre suggests," Goddard says. "Why, as people, do we feel the need to marginalize, objectify, and destroy youth? This is not specific to the genre, or movies in general, or our present-day culture. We've been doing this to youth since we first began as people. The question of 'Why?' is very much at the heart of Cabin." While he declined to elaborate more on the subject, as he wants audiences to draw their own conclusions from the film, Goddard sat down with City Pages to discuss The Cabin in the Woods.

'Buffy's' Drew Goddard and Joss Whedon reunite for 'Cabin in the Woods'
Courtesy of Lionsgate

What inspired you to write and direct a horror film?

Drew Goddard: I just love the genre. I think it's that age old adage: Write what you want to watch. That's what we did here. We wrote the movie that we wanted to see.

You began your career as a writer for Buffy the Vampire Slayer and have written and produced shows like Angel, Alias, and Lost. How did your experience in television influence your work in The Cabin in the Woods?

The thing that all those shows have in common -- and the thing about working with Joss Whedon and J.J. Abrams and Damon Lindelof -- is that we never felt like we had to play it safe. All of those shows weren't afraid to take chances and do something different and bold and strange.

I started my first job as a staff writer on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, so I've been working with Joss Whedon for a long time. We have honed our process over the years. We sit around and talk about what we like, what excites us, and try to make each other laugh and go from there. That's what we did with Cabin. We both like horror and we've done a lot of horror on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, so we wanted to try to do more of that. Joss had the basic idea for The Cabin in the Woods, and pitched it to me one day and I just lit up and said, 'Oh, that's good, let's do that!' 

Photo by Diyah Pera
Photo by Diyah Pera
Courtesy of Lionsgate

From there, we would go to the bar and spend months having drinks and talking about what would be the ultimate Cabin in the Woods, and once we had the outline ready we just locked ourselves away and tried to write it as fast as we could. The script changed the least of anything that I've ever worked on. The script always changes, but it just really felt like we knew what we wanted to do in the beginning. This is the movie that we've always wanted to make.

What were some of your favorite scenes to direct?

Almost every scene in this movie was really fun to shoot. I would look at the schedule every day and go, 'Oh my god, I can't believe what we get to shoot today' because we get to go so crazy in this movie. Working with [actors] Bradley Whitford and Richard Jenkins every day was so much fun. Just to see the talent of these two heavyweights is something that I'm going to remember for the rest of my life.

Photo by Diyah Pera
Photo by Diyah Pera
Courtesy of Lionsgate

Did the cast or crew ever get scared being on set?

Absolutely. We shot in the middle of the night in the woods, and it was cold and foggy and suddenly you'd notice that everyone else had gone to lunch or something and you're standing in the middle of the woods by yourself. You see shadows and you just can't help it -- you get scared. It just happens, and because of the nature of the film that's more on your mind so you're even jumpier than normal.

Why do you think that audiences love to be scared?

I think it starts with the experience of watching horror films in a theater. There's just something fun about feeling everyone around you scream and laugh and jump and cheer. There's a very communal aspect to horror films that is certainly true of all movies, but I think even more so with  horror films. They get you in touch with something dark and primal, I suppose. That's why I love going. There's a tremendous amount of fun in being scared in the relative safety of a theater.

What do you want people to leave the theater feeling?

First and foremost, I want them to have fun. We definitely set out to make a fun horror movie where you're laughing as much as you're screaming. Everything else after that is bonus. If people are still thinking about what we're saying and the themes and the intellectual side, then great, but job number one is have a good time.

What are some of your favorite horror films?

I grew up in the '80s, so certainly the works of John Carpenter. At the top of my list are The Thing, Halloween, Evil Dead, films by Dario Argento, and in recent times I loved a movie called The Descent. Alien might be my favorite of all time; I'm not sure, but it's certainly up there. This whole movie [The Cabin in the Woods] is a love letter to the genre. Every horror film that I've seen has inspired this movie in some way or another.

The Cabin in the Woods opens in theaters on Friday, April 13.

Sponsor Content


All-access pass to top stories, events and offers around town.

Sign Up >

No Thanks!

Remind Me Later >