Abigail Raney went to speak to Drew Goodard and Jesse Williams, co-writer-director and star of Cabin in the Woods, for Bleeding Cool.
Drew Goddard refuses to tell me how to interpret The Cabin in the Woods. Talking to the director/co-writer of the film, as well as Jesse Williams, who plays Holden, I ask about its outlook, and what it’s meant to say about people and about society. But all he’ll give me is “It’s funny, I guess I just leave that to people to decide. It certainly… there’s an ambiguity to it that allows people to make that decision for themselves.”
And when I try to get him to talk more about one of the scenes I particularly loved, he is even more adamant. “I definitely want to leave that for people to interpret on their own, for sure.” At my obvious disappointment, he laughs and adds “Sorry. But I’m glad you loved it.”
Fine – so I have to think for myself. I’ll begrudgingly respect that. And while he won’t discuss the answers, he’s more than willing to talk about the questions that lie beneath the surface of his many-layered directorial debut.
“So much of this movie ends up being about mythology in general, and our pagan nature…. when you’re dealing with archetypes you’re dealing with things that have been around forever, and that is very much at the heart of Cabin in the Woods, that this isn’t just about horror movies, this is about mythology, and who we are as a people, and what we keep doing to youth, and how that we have this need, as people, to idealize youth, and then marginalize youth, and then destroy youth. That is a pattern our society falls into, and has fallen into, since we first came out of the caves.”
The clash between youth and adult is an important one, and one that the film sought to highlight in its portrayal of the different characters. “I wanted to feel sort of the vibrancy of youth… it was very important that we felt like, you know, these kids feel alive. And the woods and their clothing is colorful. Whereas [with the adults] it’s much more ‘This is what happens as you get older – life gets more drab, you know, you become… you start to look like everyone else.’ The diversity goes down, they’re all sort of wearing the same thing. And so I really wanted to feel the difference between adulthood and youth, and that sort of motivated every decision we made, on the production design and costume design.”
Regarding the portrayal of these doomed (or are they? I’m not telling) youths, Williams shared some insight on the process of getting into character, something that involved playing both into and against archetype. “You’re starting with kind of five fingers on the hand and you’re slowly losing one, but to what degree are you aware of that, right? ….that was an interesting thing to kind of be aware of, step-by-step. Who am I, today? To what degree do I know- because we want to give off a perceptible change to the audience from these outside forces, but that doesn’t mean we’re aware of it. We still feel total control, of our faculties. So yeah, that was fun.”
When I ask if it was challenge to direct a film that is so self-aware while still maintaining the integrity of the characters, Goddard tells me “You don’t worry so much about the self-awareness. You just worry about telling a good story.” In fact, if there’s one thing he consistently refers back to, it’s the story. And perhaps that’s the answer to my question of interpretation: Don’t try too hard to know what it means, because you’ll miss the most important part – the story.
Still, if you pressed me to encapsulate the film into one thought, I think I could by borrowing a phrase that Williams uses in describing a favorite moment of the film. He calls it a “perfect storm, of creativity and blood.”
He adds “It was really fun. Really, really, really fun.” And I have to say, I completely agree.
Cabin in the Woods is released on April 13th.