Possibly the most interesting fact of the discussion is that the script Goddard and Whedon wrote is, by their account, almost exactly what ended up being filmed and included in the final film, a fact that is shocking to say the least.
The Cabin in the Woods-The Official Visual Companion & The Cabin in the Woods-The Official Movie Novelization (Titan Books)
No film in the last several years has been as inventive and entertaining as The Cabin in the Woods. Directed by Drew Goddard and co-written by Goddard and Joss Whedon, Cabin is at once a love letter to and deconstruction of the horror genre. Together or separately, Goddard and Whedon have worked on some of the biggest cult television hits of the new millennium, including Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Firefly, Dollhouse and Lost just to name a few. With Cabin, the pair has shifted their focus from sci-fi/fantasy TV to one of the most enduring genres in cinema. Now, fans of Cabin have two terrific resources to help further analyze a film with almost too many references and allusions to count.
The Cabin in the Woods-The Official Visual Companion is the type of book that, for most films, would just be a cheap excuse to milk more money from audiences. Films like The Matrix and Avatar have had similar products released in the past, but while those books focus more on breaking down the movie’s visual effects, Cabin’s visual companion includes not only an extremely in-depth interview with Goddard and Whedon, but also a behind-the-scenes look at concept art, the film’s make-up design and the original screenplay that was a result of a four-day marathon writing exercise from Goddard and Whedon.
In the Q&A-style interview, the co-writers discuss the film’s genesis (an idea Whedon had been kicking around in his head for a couple years); how they decided Goddard would direct the project and Whedon would produce; and the film’s much-delayed journey to audiences (the film was completed in 2009). Possibly the most interesting fact of the discussion is that the script Goddard and Whedon wrote is, by their account, almost exactly what ended up being filmed and included in the final film, a fact that is shocking to say the least.
Though Whedon has carved his place as “nerd god” for being the creator of shows like Buffy and Firefly, the only feature film he had directed was Serenity, a continuation of Firefly as a result of its abrupt cancellation. Goddard’s name could be said to have carried even less weight in Hollywood prior to Cabin. His most notable credits included writing for Lost and penning the script for Matt Reeves’ 2008 found footage monster movie Cloverfield. Somehow, though, the pair was allowed to make the exact movie they set out to make, down to the bizarre creatures that terrorize the unlucky college kids and the hundreds of gallons of fake blood required for the film’s climactic slaughter.
Horror movie fans, and cinephiles alike, will especially enjoy the full-color set photos, art designs and monster make-up secrets that are included in the book. Cabin, much like its predecessors to which it is paying homage, attempts to use as many practical effects as possible, using computer-generated images only when absolute necessary. This means that many of the film’s monsters were created by extremely talented make-up artists and special effects technicians. One of the most impressive, and intricate, examples is the blood-thirsty werewolf that terrorizes the final third of the film.
In addition to the behind-the-scenes access granted by the visual companion, there is also the official movie novelization, written by Tim Lebbon and based on Goddard and Whedon’s screenplay. While movie novelizations are rarely more than money generators, Cabin’s novelization is quite enjoyable. The book follows the script very closely, but alternative point-of-view so the reader gets a deeper sense of each character’s perceptions as the plot unfolds. Whedon and Goddard’s brilliant story is still intact, but Lebbon expands on the characters’ motivations and reactions to the bizarre world in which they find themselves. Though it can be tedious at times, if one has already seen the film, the novelization is entertaining and enlightening for those who want a more in-depth look at what is really happening in the film.
Fans of The Cabin in the Woods will definitely appreciate the detailed behind-the-curtain look included in The Official Visual Companion, while The Official Novelization is better-suited for fans of the film who want engaging airplane reading. | Matthew Newlin