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Five friends go to a remote cabin in the woods. Bad things happen. If you think you know this story, think again. From fan favorites Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard comes ‘The Cabin in the Woods’, a mind blowing horror film that turns the genre inside out.
Drew Goddard and Joss Whedon first met when Goddard was hired as a writer on Whedon’s seminal television hit, “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” A fruitful creative partnership – and a strong friendship – formed, and the two filmmakers have worked together consistently ever since. Along the way, ‘The Cabin in the Woods’ was born.
“Joss came up with the initial idea – we were looking for something to write together, and he had this concept kicking around in his head. And as soon as I heard the words ‘cabin movie,’ I said, ‘I’m in.” The two worked together to develop the idea, and wrote the script quickly while on hiatus from their various day jobs.
Once the script was completed, the film was greenlit by MGM Studios, thanks to the support of producer Mary Parent. But due to corporate changes, the studio was unable to continue with the film, making the way for Lionsgate to step in. “You always want your movie to find the right home,” says Whedon, “and there’s no question that Lionsgate is the right home for ‘Cabin’. So many of the films that inspired ‘Cabin’ were released by Lionsgate in the first place!”
Adds Goddard, “With some places, there’s a bit of a horror disconnect, but with Lionsgate I can say something in a meeting like, ‘I’m thinking it should be red, but not ‘The Descent’ red, more ‘High Tension’ red,” and they don’t look at me like I’m insane. It definitely feels like we’re speaking the same language. They’ve been wonderful.”
Goddard’s and Whedon’s goal was to cast the film with a mixture of established actors, new faces, and “Whedonverse” veterans, and that’s exactly what casting directors Amy Britt and Anya Colloff, who had worked on both “Buffy The Vampire Slayer” and “Angel,” set out to accomplish. But the casting process was not without its difficulties. “We ask a lot of our performers,” Goddard points out. “We ask them to vacillate between broad comedy and intense emotional drama. And often, it’s in the same scene – the same sentence, even. It’s very hard to find actors who can shift gears so quickly, the way we ask them to.”
From the beginning, Goddard had dreamed of casting Richard Jenkins in the role of control room boss Sitterson. After sending Jenkins the script on a Friday night, the phone rang on Monday morning with Jenkins’ enthusiastic commitment to the project.
“I just loved the twists. I loved the take on it. It’s fearless,” says the actor. “The control room is pretty mundane, you know. It’s like, just the guys in the office. And then you see what they’re working on and it’s bizarre. It’s just so great to throw those two worlds together.”
Jenkins’ acceptance quickly invigorated the rest of the casting process. Bradley Whitford committed soon after for the role of Hadley, which left Goddard marveling at their good fortune. “Both actors were our wildest dreams, and they were the first people in it,” he says.
Recalls Whitford, “I thought at first it was a sort of grade A, Defcon 5 horror movie. But the more I thought about it, there was something very funny and smart about it. It’s such a clever way to deal with this genre. You see with Hadley how the relentlessness of his job, and dealing with violence all the time, cuts him off from a real experience of it.”
Image Courtesy of The Cabin in the Woods