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The Cabin in the Woods’ finds humor in horror

Courtesy of Lionsgate

When people think of a cabin in the woods, their minds might turn to the horror genre, but “The Cabin in the Woods” offers humor as well, said director and co-writer Drew Goddard and female lead actress Kristen Connolly.

“The Cabin in the Woods,” a horror film about five friends who stay at a remote cabin, is scheduled to hit theaters Friday.

“Cabin” is the brainchild of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” writer Joss Whedon and “Cloverfield” writer Goddard.

“We played with horror a lot in ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer,’ and we just wanted to go back there,” said Goddard, who was also a writer for “Buffy,” in an interview with The Lantern. “So we talked about the subgenres (of horror movies), and we just both loved the subgenre of cabin movies.”

Goddard’s long fandom of horror movies has encouraged him to continue working in the genre.

“I have always wanted to make a cabin movie and have fun with the types of movies that I loved when I was young,” Goddard said.

Connolly, who stars alongside Chris Hemsworth and Anna Hutchison among others, has played “crazy” roles in soap operas, but this film was different than anything she had ever done, she said. She plays the innocent Dana Polk.

“On the soap I kidnapped a baby, I had amnesia, I was pretending to be somebody else and all this crazy stuff, but that was nothing compared to how crazy ‘Cabin’ was,” Connolly said. “It was the most physically demanding role I had ever done, but I loved it.”

Goddard said the humor in “Cabin” was natural occurrence between himself and Whedon.

“I don’t know if it was a conscious thing,” Goddard said. “That is just how Josh and I are.”

Goddard said he likes giving viewers of his films a different experience than what they might expect from the horror genre.

“I certainly like horror movies that fall into the ‘fun’ category,” Goddard said. “I really like the type of horror movie where you are laughing as much as you are screaming.”

Connolly agreed that “Cabin” falls into the “fun” category of horror films.

“Its like, ‘Oh yeah, that’s what its all about,'” Connolly said. “It should be fun, and you shouldn’t just leave feeling like you need a shower.”

The production of “Cabin” was halted in 2009 when the studio, MGM, went bankrupt. That prevented the film from being released for three years.

“A lot of films got delayed in Hollywood, like ‘The Hobbit’ and James Bond, so we weren’t too worried about it,” Goddard said.

“Cabin” has two sides in terms of actors: the younger group and the adults. Goddard and Whedon wrote the adult parts for specific actors and wanted to bring in some fresh faces for the young group.

“Bradley Whitford and Richard Jenkins were people we wrote the parts for,” Goddard said. “But for the youth, we wanted to find some new talent.”

The writers searched worldwide for new talent, auditioning several before hand-picking the young cast.

“We really saw all of Hollywood, and not just Hollywood – we looked all over the world,” Goddard said. “Anna Hutchison, who plays Jules in the movie, we found her in New Zealand the night before we started shooting.”

The plot to “Cabin” has been kept so tightly under wraps that the actors who auditioned for the part read fake audition scenes, which included pterodactyls for Connolly.

“I thought, why is this movie called ‘Cabin in the Woods’ when it’s all about pterodactyls?” Connolly said.

Connolly said she usually skims over a script to find her lines, but once she got the real script for “Cabin,” she couldn’t put it down.

“This one I actually just read the whole thing and loved it. When I finished, I was like, I actually felt out of breath,” Connolly said with a sigh.

Crowd reactions at advanced screenings and film festivals have been positive so far, Goddard said.

“The reaction has been amazing,” Goddard said. “When we premiered it at South by Southwest, you could barely hear half the lines of the movie because the audience was laughing so hard.”

“Cabin” is Goddard’s directorial debut, and he said he wouldn’t have it any other way.

“When we were making this movie, we said if we can’t have fun making this movie, we need to quit the business,” Goddard said. “I couldn’t have asked for a better way to come out of the gates.”

Goddard said he loves that “Cabin” crosses genre boundaries to reach a broader audience.

“We knew that people who like horror movies would go see this film, but I have been hearing a lot from audiences that say, ‘I don’t ever like horror movies, and I really loved this movie,'” Goddard said. “I feel like I have done God’s good work, or the devil’s good work (laughs).”

Connolly said she likes the fact that so many people are keeping the plot to “Cabin” a secret in an age where everything is on Facebook and Twitter.

“That people are keeping it a secret, and doing that for each other is awesome,” Connolly said. “Something else that I think is neat is that there are so many people who have seen it and said, ‘I am so glad I didn’t know anything about it going into it.'”

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