Queued Up: Drew Goddard’s Subversive Slasher Satire

The Cabin In The Woods is a satirical take on slasher, monster and supernatural movies that traps five young people in the titular location as they are monitored by an underground team of scientists trying to wreak havoc on their lives for a higher evil purpose. Genre junkies will note references to everything from The Evil Dead to Thirteen Ghosts to Hellraiser. It’s a rowdy, flesh-rending good time. Director Drew Goddard recently talked with The Aquarian about the film, and the transcription is below:

Considering all the references in Cabin In The Woods, did you and producer/co-writer Joss Whedon go back and watch a lot of films that you loved?

To be honest, we didn’t do any research at all. Not even a lick. This totally came out of our subconscious. It was the easiest thing because this is what we do for fun anyway. What I do for fun is think about monsters, so Cabin definitely gave me the chance to play with the play box of my dreams.

I look back at slasher films and see them in a twisted way as Christian propaganda films because the only character that usually survives is the virgin. The one that wasn’t smoking dope, getting drunk or having premarital sex. Did you ever think of them as sinister morality tales when you were growing up?

Absolutely. It’s not just horror movies, not just slasher movies. Since the beginning of time, in terms of humanity, there has been this need to marginalize and compartmentalize the youth of any generation and make [them] feel bad about rebelling against the norms and punish them for it. Joss and I talked a lot about how a lot of our myths in general end up being, depending upon who’s in charge at the time, these morality tales to make youth feel bad about themselves, and certainly horror movies became an extension of that, at least in my view. Thinking about those issues was definitely something that inspired Cabin In The Woods.

We’ve had this huge horror wave over the last decade, and it’s gotten so meta-meta that—just as with Scream in the mid-‘90s—we’ve gotten to The Cabin In The Woods. Do you think it’s time that horror went back underground? That it’s hard to bring something new to the genre?

I don’t think so. I feel like with any genre, any time we think that it’s impossible to bring something new, some kids will build something in their garage that blows us all away. I never think anything’s dead. What happens is stuff becomes successful, and as it becomes successful studios just make more of the same. Things become stale in success; it’s just what happens in all genres. I think that’s what happened to the horror genre a little bit because they were having such success. That’s why we got all those films. Anytime you write a genre off as dead, it always comes back and surprises you.




PERKY PIRATES — I love Aardman Animations. They made their name with the funny Wallace & Gromit Claymation films and expanded their repertoire with Chicken Run, Flushed Away and Arthur Christmas. Their latest effort, The Pirates! Band Of Misfits, clearly draws inspiration from the massive success of the Pirates Of The Carribean franchise, but the main character here, The Pirate Captain, can never win the Pirate Of The Year award because he can never collect enough booty. But a chance kidnapping of Charles Darwin, who has found the last remaining dodo bird alive, leads him to entering the Scientist Of The Year competition in England as a consolation. One problem: Queen Victoria loathes pirates. Things get silly and crazy from there. The comedy capers and battle sequences feature fantastic stop motion animation meshed with smart visual choreography.


HOUSE OF HEMSWORTH — For me, 2012 was the year of Chris Hemsworth. Not only did he shake the heavens as Thor, he helped Snow White fend off the minions of the Evil Queen and hammed it up as an intelligent jock stalked by evil forces in the wickedly cheeky The Cabin In The Woods. One note should be made about that latter film: It was shot in 2009, shelved due to various legal and financial issues, then rose from the cinematic crypt to scare and crack up audiences in equal measure this year. See the above Q&A for the breakdown. On the flip side, Snow White And The Huntsman (Hemsworth being the latter) is a very dark take on the classic fairy tale. Charlize Theron chews up the scenery (in a good way) as she sends off a huntsman to kill Snow White (the ever dour Kristen Stewart, who actually works here), but he changes his mind when he realizes he is being manipulated and seeks to protect her from then on. Her childhood sweetheart also seeks her out when he learns she is alive. In place of a big hammer, Hemsworth wields a giant axe. There’s plenty of CGI craziness and wild creature creations, but the story and characters click. I don’t want to see Mirror Mirror at all now. Finally, everyone knows Thor, the Norse God who helped make Hemsworth a star. As part of the squabbling superhero squadron The Avengers, he must help his mortal teammates—Iron Man, Black Widow, The Hulk, Hawkeye and Captain America—defeat an alien invasion orchestrated by Thor’s evil brother, Loki. Writer-director Joss Whedon is not only a smart genre director but a true Marvel Comics fan, and he gets the whole tone, from humor to action-packed adrenaline, spot on. A couple of decades ago, it was easy to bash Hollywood for fucking up superhero extravaganzas like this. Thankfully Marvel Comics, who now have their own studio, have been getting it right.



I like Michael Biehn. He kicked ass in The Terminator, Aliens and The Abyss, and was in Grindhouse. But his directorial debut, The Victim, a Grindhouse homage that he wrote and stars in, kind of left me cold. He plays an isolated mountain man who prefers his cabin to the city, and when a scantily clad blonde (Jennifer Blanc-Biehn) shows up at his door screaming that she’s going to be killed, he’s not sure if he wants to let her in. When he does, we begin learning about her stripper friend (Danielle Harris) who was killed, presumably by her cop boyfriend and his partner, who was coking up and doing the stripper. Now they’re after her. At that point, I hit stop and was done—minimal tension, obvious camera angles and cardboard characters, and I couldn’t care less about any of them. At least the awful Blair Watch Project had me rooting for someone: The witch.