Co-writer and director Drew Goddard’s THE CABIN IN THE WOODS returns for late shows July 5th through 8th at the Brattle Theatre. Last March, BOFCA’s Monica Castillo sat down with Goddard at the SXSW Film Festival. As a TV screenwriter, his name can be found in long-running series like BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER, ANGEL, ALIAS, and LOST. Goddard made the leap to the big screen with a script for CLOVERFIELD before teaming up with BUFFY creator Joss Whedon for a thoughtfully spooky film that became THE CABIN IN THE WOODS.
Q: So CABIN was on the shelf for a while, wasn’t it?
A: Yeah, well, we were at a studio that went bankrupt. We got delayed a bit, but so did the last James Bond film, THE HOBBIT. But we’re out now!
Q: How did you come up with a horror story that weaved together pop culture and mythology?
A: We just love horror movies, so we started to explore why we loved horror so much. It started to suggest bigger things. Why do we like watch kids getting butchered on-screen? What is it that we enjoy about being scared? It just made us look beyond the horror movie and at the people we are. This sort of sacrificing of youth — that’s been happening forever and that bears a lot in the movie too. We have to go to the mythology because so many of our stories are based off of that. Those roots are very much a part of the horror genre.
Q: How about the basic idea of a house of horrors that other people controlled?
A: You know, it wasn’t a lot more complicated than, “You know what would be cool? This…” Joss had this original idea of people upstairs and people downstairs, and we just pitched that and said let’s explore this. That was fun to see where the story would take us. We didn’t do anything more than to set out to write a movie.
Q: What would you say were some of the horror movies that influenced you?
A: I didn’t try to get any one influence. I wanted to give the film a very elegant look to counteract the ridiculousness that happens. I wanted it to feel grown-up. I wanted to balance the mundane and the simple with the operatic.
Q: So this wasn’t your quick and dirty B-movie?
A: We shot for a while actually, about 40 days. It was some hard months in Vancouver, with a lot of rain and a lot of snow. It was not hard for the actors to look distressed.
Q: How did it feel to work with a cast of young, fresh actors and older, more experienced ones?
A: It definitely felt like I got to shoot two different movies. It was a totally different vibe. What was interesting is that the veteran actors were much more fun than the kids. The kids were way more serious. I think that comes with experience, they know how to let their hair down a little better. But I didn’t expect that.
Q: How was it collaborating with Whedon again?
A: We just got along right away. I love his writing, he’s my favorite writer in the world.
Q: With quite the cult following.
A: Oh my God, I was a part of that. I think that our voices are very similar. It’s very easy for us to write together because we just like each other. We had so much fun writing BUFFY and ANGEL; it felt like the next thing to do was to do when the shows had gotten out. Let’s write a movie. Let’s try to write something fun and fast. We had this original idea and we decided to write it for ourselves. Just a movie we’d like to see. We’ll figure out if anyone would let us make it later.
THE CABIN IN THE WOODS shows Thursday, July 5th through Sunday, July 8th at 9:30 PM. The Brattle Theatre, 40 Brattle Street, Cambridge MA 02138