Exclusive: Director Drew Goddard Talks The Cabin in the Woods, Robopocalypse and More
For those of you out there who may have missed it when it hit theaters earlier this year (and if you did, seriously- what is wrong with you?), Drew Goddard's The Cabin in the Woods (review) hit DVD and Blu-Ray shelves everywhere today courtesy of Lionsgate.
To celebrate its home release arrival, Dread Central recently chatted with Goddard about all things Cabin in the Woods including balancing the tone of the writer/director's oddball story, creating likable characters out of your usual stereotypical genre movie victims and how he managed to pull off one of the biggest moments of collected cinematic chaos in The Cabin in the Woods.
We also briefly chatted with Goddard regarding his experiences collaborating with a certain Mr. Spielberg on the upcoming epic robot vs. humans flick Robopocalypse. Check out the highlights of our exclusive interview with Goddard below, and look for more with The Cabin in the Woods' lovable pothead Marty (Fran Kranz) tomorrow!
SPOILER ALERT: The following interview is filled with spoilers; if you have NOT seen Cabin in the Woods yet, we recommend you go check it out first and then come back to read our interview with Goddard afterwards.
Dread Central: First of all, congratulations on this film once again-it was by far my favorite horror film of this year; the most fun I had all year was taking my friends to go see it just so I could see their reactions as that third act unfolds.
Drew Goddard: Thanks! I love that this movie ended up surprising so many people. That's the best compliment you can get as a filmmaker.
Dread Central: Definitely; considering it seems that there aren't really any surprises left in the genre these days anymore. Another surprise of Cabin was the tone- was it difficult for you as the storyteller to walk that line where if you go too far one way, you're in spoof territory, but if you go too far the other way, you're taking the story way too seriously?
Drew Goddard: It really was; I think the trickiest thing I learned while working on Cabin in the Woods was to not be too inside with our gags and humor. Even though there's a humor to all of this, there still had to be real characters to this story so we had to give them their moments. The perfect examples are Bradley (Whitford) and Richard (Jenkins) in the control room- even though they're a huge part of the humor, we still had to care about them as people, too, in some ways even though they are definitely the antagonists in this.
Dread Central: So how do you write a villain or antagonist that audiences care about? Was there something that influenced Bradley's and Richard's characters while you were writing them?
Drew Goddard: The antagonists for me were so integral because I think one-note villains are so boring for fans to watch so I love that both sides of this story are equally represented in Cabin. And these guys were influenced by my own hometown and the idea of this atomic bomb shelter-like structure that exists below the surface in suburbia. It's a wild idea to think this kind of place could exist beneath the surface, and I wanted to tap into that wildness and blend that with the weirdness of suburban people who may be normal but have really abnormal job. You know, like killing teenagers (laughs).
Dread Central: And of course there's also the kids in the cabin, too- they're playing stereotypes but for a specific reason; can you discuss balancing out those characters as well?
Drew Goddard: It was hard - so hard. Because of the nature of these characters and the fact that they were stereotypes, that was the easy part because we've all seen kids like this before in horror movies. The challenge was how do you take those stereotypes and make them into characters audiences actually care about. It always pisses me off when you're watching a movie where there's a group of kids and none of them ever care when their friends are getting killed. That seems unnatural and says something about character development.
In Cabin you see these kids care about each other and want to help each other survive. If we didn't have that, we wouldn’t have had a successful movie.
Dread Central: Cabin in the Woods as a whole is ambitious, but that third act is by far one of the most insane things I've ever witnessed as a horror fan on the big screen. How do you manage that kind of chaos as a director, and did your budget ever dictate the amount of action you guys jam-packed into the third act?
Drew Goddard: It was chaos, absolute chaos, but worth it (laughs). And yeah, that whole control room sequence was a nightmare because all we had written in the script for that moment was "...then all hell breaks loose" so it became a challenge to define hell breaking loose so we just went all out. I was always aggressive about protecting our budget, and most of our budget went towards the third act. It seems like these days a lot of people cut their budget in the third act, which is why a lot of movies fail to finish as strongly as they start, so I always knew that these moments would be the biggest of Cabin. But that one sentence - that "…then all hell breaks loose" moment - man, was that the most expensive line of this entire project. (laughs)
But we worked for years on all of those monsters; I don't even remember how many there were by the end but I would imagine hundreds. At a certain point, though, we kind of run out of monsters so some of them are intentionally silly- like having just a German Shepard in there. Oh- and Kevin. Kevin is my favorite (laughs).
Dread Central: Not to riff on the movie title, but let's talk about Kevin- I've seen the movie three times now and I still can't find him. He's in there, right? (laughs).
Drew Goddard: Oh yes, Kevin is in there (laughs). You really have to look for him, but he's in there.
Dread Central: I know there's probably not much you can tell us about Robopocalypse yet, but can you talk about your experiences collaborating with (Steven) Spielberg for that project?
Drew Goddard: Oh wow, it's been amazing; if you had told 12-year-old Drew that one day he’d be sitting in a room working with someone like Steven, I think my young mind would have just exploded at the very idea of that so I've always been aware of how lucky I have been in this business so far, and to be working with Steven on Robopocalypse has been the most wonderfully surreal experience in my career so far.
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