Opening 4/13 is a film that's almost impossible to describe. "The Cabin in the Woods" marks the directorial debut for screenwriter Drew Goddard, who achieved success with work on the monster movie "Cloverfield" and the hit television shows, "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and "Lost." Recently, Blu-ray.com sat down to discuss this wonderfully peculiar picture with Goddard, a man palpably excited to see his oft-delayed feature finally released.
Question: "The Cabin in the Woods" is a film that basically pulls the horror genre inside out, where did this story originate?
Drew Goddard: You know, it was Joss Whedon's original idea. We had been talking about finding another thing to co-write, because we'd written "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" as a team. We were looking for something to do together again, just brainstorming ideas, and he had this idea about a cabin in the woods. As soon as I heard that I was like, "Oh yeah, I'm in. Let's do that."
Q: Are there any horror films that inspired you while you and Whedon developed the picture?
Goddard: Well, it's funny, because I can honestly say that it's every horror film I've ever seen. Everything has inspired me in one way or another because this movie is a celebration of the genre. I was hard for me to be not inspired by everything.
Q: With "Cabin" your first feature, what have you learned about the directorial process working alongside such geek titans like J.J. Abrams and Joss Whedon?
Goddard: The thing both of them had in common is that they were always fearless, never afraid to do something different and take chances. To not do what was fashionable, but what was interesting to them. I really took to that lesson. We don't play it safe with "Cabin," we definitely swing for the fences. I learned for those guys to not be afraid of that. To try that.
Q: Did they offer you advice, or help shape the feature?
Goddard: I certainly learned a great deal being around them, and I talked to them just in terms of big picture stuff and little picture stuff like, "What sort of lenses do you like for emotional scenes?" Questions like that. I asked that stuff, but the truth is every director is different with a different aesthetic and taste. It's more about learning the big picture stuff and how you approach the job in general.
Q: According to IMDB, you're currently working with Steven Spielberg on "Robopocalypse." How has that experience been?
Goddard: It's been a dream come true to work with arguably the world's greatest filmmaker. It was fun. I still can't believe there were days when I'd be asked to go to Steven's house and talk about robots. How is this my life?
Q: Cabin experienced a lengthy series of release delays due to MGM's bankruptcy, can you describe the situation and how it led to Lionsgate?
Goddard: MGM went bankrupt. They got caught in the financial turmoil that took over the whole world a few years back, and they took it particularly hard. This led to a lot of the films they were working on to be delayed. There was us, and then "The Hobbit" and James Bond, and when you have titles like that you realize it's above your pay grade. When you're dealing with these matters, you really can't think, "Should I be doing something different?" There's just nothing you can do as a filmmaker. It took a little while to untangle the red tape, but we started showing it to studios and they loved it, which was really nice. Lionsgate, more than anyone else, said, "We have to have this movie." We consider ourselves lucky as we're the first out of the gates with all of these pictures involved in the bankruptcy. It's a credit to Lionsgate, who stepped up and said, "We're going to free you."
Q: It's fortunate to fall into a place that specializes in the genre.
Goddard: I feel that this is the best possible end that could've happened to us. We're at the perfect home for this movie, and now some of our cast have gone on to becomes stars.
Q: Absolutely. When you began production, Chris Hemsworth was lower-case chris hemsworth. Now the man is THOR. How does it feel to have gotten in on the ground floor with this actor?
Goddard: It's funny, because we felt his presence at the time. This kid's going into the stratosphere, you can just tell. His talent was palpable. It's been fun to see this happen, because it couldn't happen to a more deserving person.
Q: Did the "Thor" casting happen after shooting?
Goddard: It was during shooting. We were on set one day and he was talking about a friend who'd gone in for an audition, and Joss and I said, "You should be reading for Thor because you look like Thor." We'd never seen anyone look so much like the God of Thunder. We put him on tape that day, and Joss called Kevin Feige, the man at Marvel, because they were friends and asked him to look at this kid because he's great. They did, Kenneth Branagh (director of "Thor") loved him and the rest is history. Halfway through our shoot, he did go from lower-case Chris Hemsworth, as you say, to Thor, and it was fun to see that happen as we were working.
Q: If I may be so bold, "Cabin" is a wonderful picture. Was there frustration knowing the studio was sitting on a good thing?
Goddard: It was a little frustrating, but I was concerned about protecting the film itself. Whenever there's a management change, there's that danger that the new boss is going to come in and make you change stuff. Once Lionsgate committed to the film, showing patience with the bankruptcy process, they didn't want to change a frame. That was a relief. There are worse things in the world than having your film come out a little later than you originally thought it was going to. As long as they didn't make me change the film, I was happy.
Q: Seems an opportune time to come out now.
Goddard: Honestly, Friday the 13th is a perfect time for us to be coming out. We're really happy.
Q: There was also talk of a 3D conversion for "Cabin" at one point, what happened to that?
Goddard: That was during a time when studios thought everything should be in 3D. To wave their magic 3D wand and everything will be like "Avatar." People didn't really understand the technology and they asked us to explore it. Joss and I were both very against it. Because they were our boss, we had to look at it, to do the tests and see what it was. Luckily, once we went to Lionsgate, we said, "We don't want this at all." And they agreed. We just left that alone.
Q: Not since "The Crying Game" has there been a film with such a sensitive spoiler issues. How would you describe "Cabin" to a potential ticket buyer?
Goddard: I don't know, how would you do it? It's hard because I know for a fact that the less you know about the movie, the more fun you'll have with it. At the same time, you want to tell an audience that it's worth their time. This is not your average, everyday movie and we're going for something different here. It's about finding that balance. Unlike "The Crying Game," which was really about one big twist, we're not really about one twist, but a whole lot of stuff. It's not about getting one twist, but an escalation of events. I think it's helped us in a weird way, with the "Keep it quiet" movement, and I think people want to protect us. People watch this movie and they don't want to spoil it for other people so they'll have the same experience.
Q: Have you had your hand in the marketing?
Goddard: I had my hand in the marketing in the sense that Lionsgate showed me what they had, and I said, "Wow, that's cool!" They've been great. They wanted Joss and I involved right away, and we've been on the same page. We saw their first trailer, and we were like, "We have nothing else. Just do that." They definitely get the movie and know the best way to sell it.
Q: Now with "Cabin" finally out there for the world to enjoy, what's next for you?
Goddard: Right now I'm just enjoying "Cabin" being out there. Some of the most fun I've had in my career is watching this movie with an audience. I'm trying to do that as much as possible over the next few weeks. I don't get many opportunities like this, to watch it with a crowd and hear those laughs and screams and cheers.