Cabin in the Woods director Drew Goddard Tells Us How To Make The Perfect Horror Movie

Do you dare visit the Cabin in the Woods? If you do, you’ll be treated to one of the most innovative and manic horror movies to hit the big screen in recent years. Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Cloverfield screenwriter-turned-director Drew Goddard pulls no punches with his deadly debut, crafting a film that offers a refreshing twist on the tried and tested teen horror genre. We caught up with Goddard to discuss the movie and get some advice on how to make a really, bum-clenchingly tense horror movie. Here are his top tips:

Know your roots…

“I saw Alien far too young, I think I was probably about six or so when I saw it and boy did that damage me (laughs). When that alien jumps out of John Hurt’s chest I just couldn’t believe what I was seeing and had nightmares for years! I’m still not sure that I’m over that, it was really traumatic but now that’s my career so I’m sure it served some purpose. I grew up as a child of the eighties so certainly the movies of John Carpenter and Sam Raimi are just crucial to me. I think The Thing is my all time favourite horror movie for so many reasons. When Carpenter’s on point there’s nobody better.”

Pick a good writing partner…

“Cabin was originally Joss Whedon’s idea. We had been looking for something to write together on and as we were boucing ideas back and forth brainstorming he sort of threw up this idea, he said “I have this idea, it’s called The Cabin in the Woods,” and as soon as I heard those five words I was in because I love Cabin movies and I knew it would be our chance to make a good horror movie,”

Throw in a few twists and turns…

“I certainly learned early on with Buffy, don’t be afraid to take chances, don’t be afraid to do something different and it’s one of those things that I’ve always loved about Joss, just his writing, he always surprises you, he never does what’s expected. So there’s always a freedom that comes with that and certainly we wanted to keep that spirit alive with Cabin.”

Get the right cast…

“It was definitely one of the hardest parts of the job and clearly the most important part. We saw hundreds of actors for these roles and we just needed to find that right fit because it’s a tricky movie. We’re asking actors to play two different things; we’re asking them to play a character and an archetype and vacillate between those two things and that’s not always easy, that’s quite a challenge for anybody so we really had to be thorough. We saw people from all over the globe – one of our actresses is from New Zealand, one’s from Australia, we looked high and low for these kids to find the right combination and luckily I couldn’t be happier with where we ended up,”

Add some humour…

“So much of the comedy is just Joss and I trying to make each other laugh! That’s really the fun part of writing, just seeing if I can get him to break while he’s reading my pages and I think he feels the same.  A lot of the movie is just a dialogue between the two of us as we try to make each other laugh.”

Cabin in the Woods is at cinemas now. 

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Words and interview by Simon Bland. 

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