Review: The Cabin in the Woods – The Official Visual Companion

Titan Books, out now 

A sumptuous tie-in companion for Goddard and Whedon’s masterful horror movie.

I won’t repeat myself by saying again why I love Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard’s The Cabin in the Woods – certainly the best horror film of the year, if not this century. I’ll just add that when you have a film this good, you want decent tie-in books. Thankfully Titan have provided just that, first with Tim Lebbon’s novelization (reviewed by yours truly) and now with a glossy coffee book-style visual companion.

So what does it contain? Well, to begin with we get Goddard’s introduction in which it really comes across how grateful, and just downright surprised, he is that the studios have let them make this film. “How in the Hell are they letting us make this movie?” he asks, and states a bit later on: “My point is: I’m a lucky man.” Damn straight, because you can really see what he means, especially in the lengthy interview with him and Whedon that follows – and takes up the first 40 odd pages of the book. Cabin… is a film that’s challenging in lots of ways, not least to an audience – but perhaps most importantly at the script and shooting level.

You’ve probably heard the legend by now, and while it’s true the guys locked themselves away in a hotel room (more like an hotel apartment with an upper and lower level) for the weekend to thrash out the basic story and script, there’s a lot more to it than that. Whedon had had this on his mind for quite a while beforehand, and the pair were just looking for the right gig to work on together. They simply missed each other, they reveal, after Goddard went off to work in J.J. Abrams-land.

The interview reveals lots of little known facts for all you Cabin…/Whedon/Goddard fans, such as: Drew being afraid of horror movies growing up, but can now handle the gore better than Joss; who really insisted on the wolf scene being in the script; what the Merman began life as; and how you deal with snow on a Canadian shoot when it’s not winter in the movie…

All this plus short interviews with the cast, snippets of production design information about things like the Cabin itself (created especially for filming, in a forest that was also hand-built), a step-by-step guide to the monster creations, courtesy of AFX’s David LeRoy Anderson and his wife Heather Langenkamp Anderson (remember Nancy from A Nightmare on Elm Street? there’s something fitting about that…), plus an afterword by Whedon. That’s not to mention the entire script and lots of lovely photos – it is a visual companion after all! If there’s one criticism it’s that there’s perhaps too much to cram in, so the writing is pretty small – plus I would have liked to have seen the screenplay laid out in its original format. But they’re minor quibbles, really. If you liked the movie and the novelization, go out and complete the set…

A wonderful memento of what’s sure to become a classic of the horror genre 9/10 

Paul Kane



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