If you haven’t seen Cabin in the Woods yet, what the hell is your problem? One of the best films (of any genre) in the last couple of years, Cabin has been shrouded in mystery. Done with its theatrical run, currently available for digital download, and coming to DVD and blu-ray on September 18th, the cat is out of the bag with regards to what is probably the most secretive film of my lifetime. Even if you haven’t seen it (and again, what the hell is wrong with you?) it would be a tough one to spoil because there is just so much awesomeness going on. With the veil of secrecy (mostly) gone, we sat down to talk with director and co-writer Drew Goddard about Cabin in the Woods.
Now that Cabin in the Woods has been released and people have seen it, do you feel this relief, knowing you can talk about the film?
It’s definitely nice! And it’s a really hard movie to talk about when people haven’t seen it.
Do you still feel like you have to keep quiet it about it, in case there is someone who hasn’t seen it?
A little bit, but not really. I feel like the statute of limitations is up. I feel like I don’t have to play defense as much.
What was the hardest part of the film for you to keep secret?
We really wanted to protect Sigourney Weaver’s part in the film. That was hard because people started putting her on cast lists on the internet, and we really wanted to keep that quiet. But the nice thing about Cabin is that it’s not any one secret. It’s not like The Sixth Sense, where if you know Bruce Willis is dead, it changes the entire movie. Cabin is about 30 secrets. Weirdly, the cumulative nature of it helped us a lot.
It was in the can for so many years before it was finally released. Did anything get leaked in that time?
I’m sure it did, but one of the nice things was that, anyone who saw the film kind of felt the need to help us protect it. There weren’t a lot of people out there being dicks, trying to ruin it. I think once people started seeing it, they said, “You know what? It’s better the less you know.” I couldn’t protect this movie without help, and one of the biggest surprises about this movie was seeing the web sites help us by saying, “The less you know about this film, the better.”
I don’t know that many other films or production teams would get that kind of help from audiences.
I don’t know what we did right, but we were happy. I’m not going to question it.
One of the frustrating things - for me at least - was that we have been hearing about this film for years. Literally. Can you even remember back that far, to when you were shooting it? [Cabin was shot several years ago, then languished on a shelf while MGM, the studio that owned it, went through bankruptcy proceedings until Lionsgate finally bought the rights to distribute it when it purchased some of MGM’s assets.]
I watched one of the “making of” documentaries on the blu-ray, and I couldn’t believe how young I was. It felt like a lifetime ago. It is definitely a little surreal to still be talking about it. I still love the movie, so that makes it easier to talk about it. I’m very proud of it.
When did you guys film Cabin in the Woods?
I don’t even remember... I think it was 2009, but it could have been 2008. No, 2009 sounds right.
Was there ever a point where, while you were waiting for the studio stuff to get worked out, you just forgot about it?
I didn’t really forget about it, but there was a point where it was no longer at the forefront of my thoughts. Weirdly, the studio’s bankruptcy being so big made it easier because I felt like there was nothing I could do. These were bigger problems than anything I could solve, so I could keep going about my life. Weirdly, there was freedom in that.
The big push nowadays is for films to be released in 3D. Did anyone ever come to you and try to convert Cabin into 3D?
There were discussions, but that is pretty much par for the course in Hollywood these days. Every movie, they are going to at least discuss the option of 3D. Joss and I were both against it. Not that I am against 3D in general, but I didn’t plan to make Cabin 3D. I didn’t shoot for 3D, so it felt like it would be a very unsatisfying 3D film. I didn’t frame anything for 3D; I didn’t light anything for 3D. I feel like if they had forced us to convert it to 3D, they would have been profoundly disappointed because the movie is very dark, and 3D needs to be very bright to work. I think it would have just come out looking like a black screen!
My favorite part of the movie - and probably everyone else’s - is the stuff with Richard Jenkins and Brad Whitford. How did you get them on board? We you able to tell them what you were doing or did you have to leave them in the dark until, say, the day they showed up for work?
This is a very hard movie to play coy with. You need everyone involved with the movie to know what the hell is going on. I don’t know if I would have been able to explain it! So we sent them the script, and they both got it and were in. To their credit, they understood the tone and what this movie wanted to be. It made my life not just easy, but a joy. Some of the most fun I had in making this movie was working with the two of them, and watching the two of them.
You’ve worked with your co-writer, Joss Whedon, for a very long time. How has your relationship developed over the years?
He’s gotten much older. He’s very old, so I have to change his bedpan a lot and make sure he doesn’t break his hip when going upstairs. But we’ve always got along well. We like the same stuff. We are passionate about the same things and that makes life easy, and we can just sit around and talk about what monster movies we liked.
Was that part of the inspiration for this film? Your shared love of monster movies?
Yeah, and horror movies in general. We wanted to write a love letter to the genre.
You have been notorious for saying that you wanted Cabin in the Woods to be self-contained; that you didn’t want to do a sequel. Do you still have the studio coming to you and asking you to make a sequel?
It’s not something we are totally against; we just don’t want to do a sequel for the sake of doing a sequel. If there was a story to be told, I think we’d get on board. We don’t want to do it just to make money. So I don’t know. I don’t know what the answer is. We’ll see what happens.
This is a pretty ambitious film to make your directorial debut with. Was there anything that was more difficult than you expected or, conversely, was there anything that ended up being easier than you expected?
I think what is hardest is the physical toll that directing takes on you. I didn’t really expect that. It’s physically grueling because you are on your feet, working on set for 18 hours a day, so you never get time to sleep. On the weekends, you are still working, preparing for the next week. It’s a grind. I understand why Scorsese needs to check himself into the hospital for exhaustion at the end of every film.
It was much easier to work with the actors than I expected. It was a little intimidating, especially when you have actors this good. There is part of me that worried, “Would they listen to me?” But once we got in the trenches it was so much fun. Richard and Bradley are such great collaborators that all that [trepidation] evaporated immediately and it just became a joy.
Okay, you know I have to ask this: What is going on with the Cloverfield sequel?
Much like Cabin, J.J. [Abrams], Matt [Reeves] and I are all in agreement that we don’t want to do a sequel for the sake of doing a sequel. If we can figure out an idea that excites us, we’ll do it. But we don’t feel a need for a sequel to exist.