“Lost” writer enters the woods

By Drew Hunt

After collaborating with the likes of Joss Whedon and J.J. Abrams, Drew Goddard has long been poised to step into the director chair himself. He finally got his chance with “The Cabin in the Woods,” a unique horror film that has fans of the genre dizzy with curiosity. Recently, The Chronicle had the chance to sit down with Goddard and discuss the genesis of the film, how genre cinema became so popular and whether or not “The Cabin in the Woods” is a statement on horror as a whole.

The Chronicle: So where did the idea for the film come from?

Drew Goddard: We were talking about horror movies and decided we wanted to make one [laughs]. Joss had this idea. He was like, “What if we did a cabin movie?” He already had the basic structure of it, and we worked it out. As soon as I heard it, I was like, “OK!”

The Chronicle: Was it just the cabin aspect, or did you have the whole concept fleshed out?

DG: He had the whole thing, and we just sort of fleshed it out. It was sort of like what we used to do on “Buffy.” You start from the top and just fill it in.

The Chronicle: Why do you think shows like “Buffy” and “Firefly” were so successful?

DG: The thing people forget is that when “Buffy” was on and when “Alias” was on, both Joss and J.J. were on the opposite end of what was cool on television. Everyone wanted CSI-type shows. But we knew that this was where the most interesting storytelling in TV was happening. And Joss and J.J. never changed. They never said, “We better change what we do in order to become fashionable.” They just said, “We’re going to keep doing what we’re doing and let everyone else come to us.” And that’s exactly what happened.

The Chronicle: Did that inspire you?

DG: The thing I took from that was watching their fearlessness. They were not afraid to do different things. For instance, there was a run on “Angel” where we did a World War II submarine episode, and the next week we turned our main character into a puppet, and then the next week we killed off a main character. It was fearless. That was certainly what helped inspired “Cabin.” It was like, “Who wants to make the same old movie? Let’s try something different.”

The Chronicle: It’s definitely a different type of horror movie. I’d say it’s more of a satire than anything.

DG: I guess that’s just the tone of who we are, Joss and I. We don’t feel like we want to get pigeonholed into any one thing. The people who inspired me are the ones who weren’t afraid to shift gears and do several things in one movie. Guys like the Coen brothers—any movie they make, you’re never quite such what it is.

The Chronicle: So when it comes to “Cabin in the Woods,” do you view the different styles you incorporate as distinct from one another, or are they all part of a greater picture?

DG: I think they’re part of a bigger picture, for sure. But the bigger picture is just based on s–t I like. For me, it’s based on instinct. It’s not even just the horror genre.

The Chronicle: Would you say there’s a grander scheme when it comes to the references in your film? Are they more than just in-jokes for genre nerds?

DG: I wanted to design the movie where if you don’t know any horror movies or you don’t even like horror movies, you’ll still have fun. First and foremost, we wanted the audience to have a good time. If you do love horror movies, we’ve got you covered [laughs]. But I didn’t care about the mash-up quality of it. It’s the place horror films have in our society and what they say about us as a people.

The Chronicle: Were you ever worried about alienating some of the more hardcore horror movie fans?

DG: I don’t think so. We love this genre. Even the stuff we poke at.

The Chronicle: It’s done so lovingly.

DG: It is. Even stuff like archetypes. I actually love those things. I love these movies. I view this much more as a celebration of the genre and my attempt to throw a genre party for all my friends that like these movies.