‘The Cabin in the Woods:’ Exclusive Interview with Director Drew Goddard, and Behind the Scenes Blu-ray Clip
Posted on Tuesday, September 18th, 2012 by Russ Fischer
Drew Goddard‘s The Cabin in the Woods, co-written with Joss Whedon, hits DVD and Blu-ray today. I loved the film when it was in theaters, and was excited to take another look on disc. The movie is a playful horror-comedy funhouse that escalates into world-threatening madness. But it has a soul that is more adult than most self-aware horror is willing to let show.
After the break we’ve got an exclusive making-of clip from the Blu-ray package, as well as an interview with Goddard. The Cabin in the Woods hits Blu-ray, DVD, and VOD today, September 18, and is currently available on Digital Download.
Here’s the clip, which shows a good violent gag in action behind the scenes:
I also spoke with Goddard about the process of making the film, and the aftermath of its release. That being the case, some light spoilers follow.
It must be nice to be able to talk about the film now, and also be at a point where people are seeing it for the second time. There are details in the movie that plainly seem designed for a second viewing. Was creating rewatchability a prime concern?
Truth is, I don’t like movies that are only good once, I tend to dismiss them. I like movies that get better the more you watch them. No one has to watch this movie more goddamn times than me, and I get bored very easily. So I, or we, tried to enhance that aspect. And not on just a detail level, but on a story level. We were very conscious of the question “what does it all mean?” It’s important that it becomes “what does it mean?” rather than “what happens?”
Joss and I said, “let’s pretend that we’re writing this for ourselves.” What would we want to see, and what movies and tendencies do we know. If you worry too much about what an audience wants or knows, you’re going to be wrong. You just have to tell it the way you can, and the way you’d want to see it.
I enjoyed the combination of the surface level, where there’s an increasingly operatic Lovecraftian thing happening, as you’re playing with character stereotypes and transitions from childhood to adulthood.
At a certain point I almost had Marty say, when the Director is talking about what is about to happen, “oh you mean like Cthulu.” So Lovecraft definitely in mind. The epic horror mythology that he did so well was in there; it felt like that’s where it wanted to go. It wanted to go epic, and so it did. But the transition to adulthood, that’s what the soul of the movie is about, in my mind. Why do we feel the need to destroy our own youth?
Is that where the movie comes from in general — you going back to horror movie ideas that you loved as a kid and exploring/exploding them?
Maybe! I have just taken these things that I have loved, and in a weird way destroyed all of them by the end of the movie. This is kind of like psychoanalysis now.
What was the most difficult thing to accomplish?
The control room was a nightmare, where there’s a scene going on in the room while a killing is happening at the same time on the security monitors. We had eighty screens that needed to be synced. In a big budget film you’d just blue screen all those screens, but we had to have a guy at a computer syncing all of those screens. I had particular ideas about what I wanted on those screens, and the beats in that were happening as we were doing dialogue. So screens are playing, actors are performing dialogue, and we’re moving the camera. When it came together it was the best moment of the shoot.
Making it work was really just refusing to accept failure. There were so many points where people would have wanted to quit. To me, that’s where the movie really comes together, the two worlds, seeing people drink cocktails while horrific violence is in the background [on the monitor screens]. It was essential.
That’s kind of a description of filmmaking in general: refuse to accept failure.
My friend Matt Reeves, who directed Cloverfield, described the filmmaking process as “all day long people are shooting bullets at you and hitting you and your job is to not die.” I think that’s exactly right; that’s the best description of the directing process anyone could give.
The trip to the cabin basement, where the kids find elements that could lead to various fates, is also a big sequence.
There’s a lot in there; you can’t see all of it. Everything in the third act is in there. There’s a great fortune telling machine that is beautiful, there’s a great unicorn tapestry in the background.
Was that all minutely scripted?
No, the script didn’t detail any of this stuff out — the third act just says something like “and then all hell breaks loose.” That’s what describes all the monsters everywhere. It was a team effort to come up with all of this stuff, and it was a herculean task to do all this on a budget.
I got a big kick out of the title screen, which smashes into a scene in a fairly unexpected way.
We played a lot with choices for that, trying to decide what line was the funniest for the title smash. There was one where Richard Jenkins says “I’m going to pick up some power drills” and Bradley [Whitford] responds to him as the title hits. There’s another version where Richard is playing with his coffee and says “I’m having coffee issues,” and it went there. We played with where the title would smash in. I loved it; that sets the tone immediately. It’s not just funny, it tells the audience exactly what kind of movie it is.
I asked briefly about Robopocalypse, which Goddard has been scripting for Steven Spielberg to direct. He was very cautious about that one, saying only that the script is “a very hard-science look at what would happen if our tech turned on us.”