You know that feeling you get when you finally get to see a movie that has been advertised up to a full year before its release date? The anticipation welling up in your gut with each new trailer and poster as the marketing blitz reaches a fever pitch leading right to the moment you buy your ticket for that midnight screening? Ok, now imagine you’d been excited to see a film that then seemingly vanished from the face of the Earth. You’d hear whispers of the film being in the can, and maybe even catch a glimpse of a poster promising an approaching release date. But then, like some cruel joke, that date would come and go with no sign of the anticipated film.
That’s precisely the unfortunate set of circumstances that befell The Cabin in the Woods. The new horror film, co-written by The Avengers’ Joss Whedon, went through so many changes of release date that we wondered if it would ever see the light of day. But, like a gift from a higher power, Cabin is now upon us.
And while Joss Whedon is an attention-grabbing name, Cabin’s real hero is the film’s director and co-writer, Drew Goddard. Drew is a guy with one hell of an impressive resume. He’s written episodes of some of the most popular television shows in the last twenty years: Buffy, Angel, Lost, Alias. He also wrote the found footage monster epic Cloverfield. Drew makes his directorial debut with Cabin and we were very fortunate to be able to sit down and discuss the film with him during SXSW.
What I love particularly about Cabin is how specifically meta it is. It’s not just holding comfortably familiar titles up to the light, it seems like you guys have something to say about the genre from the production side of things.
Drew Goddard: We didn’t set out to be meta, we just set out to tell a horror story that we loved. To sort of put our spin on it and see where it took us. We didn’t develop this movie for a studio, Joss Whedon and I just said, “If we could write anything we want, what would we write?” We came with this basic concept and took it from there.
I can see that, but certainly the movie is influenced by your experience as a writer and certainly speaks to the nature of horror screenwriting. I mean, you’ve basically taken every horror trope and mechanized it; made it literally push-button.
Goddard: Yeah, we’ll we had a wealth of complications in the script to choose from. These are good problems to have. So it just comes down to your gut, and what you want. I thought about what I would want to happen if I could do anything. There was definitely some debate about that because we just like so much of what typically happens in a horror movie. We really just let the characters decide. We let the arc of where the characters are going determine what it is that we were going to play with.
So basically it’s the darkest “Choose Your Own Adventure” story ever crafted?
. Given that you are still coming up and establishing your voice and identity as a filmmaker, how do you balance leaving your footprint on something huge like Robopocalypse and still remaining faithful to the source?
Goddard: The thing about adaptation is that it’s not about my voice. It’s about bringing out the best version of their voice. Every book is different so every approach requires a different journey, but basically I feel that when adapting someone else’s work, it’s my job to stand behind the curtain and help lift them up.
That makes complete sense. Speaking of your future projects, there has been talk of a Cloverfield sequel. To your knowledge, is that something that’s definitely happening?
Goddard: There’s nothing definitely happening. It’s something that we all want to happen. It’s just a matter of finding the time to do it right.