A chat with co-writer Joss Whedon and writer/director Drew Goddard of “The Cabin in the Woods”

Joss Whedon is a bit of a geek god in some circles, having created cult shows like “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” “Angel,” “Firefly” and “Dr. Horrible’s Sing-a-Long-Blog,” but that’s all about to change with the upcoming release of “The Avengers.” Before Whedon assembles the Marvel superhero group on the big screen, however, the writer/director is reteaming with longtime friend Drew Goddard (a writer on some of Whedon’s TV series, as well as others like “Alias” and “Lost”) on the genre-bending horror movie “The Cabin in the Woods.”

Co-written by the duo, the film also marks the directorial debut of Goddard, who’s had to sit idly by and watch the movie endure a number of setbacks on its way to theaters. Originally completed back in 2009 before being indefinitely shelved due to MGM’s ongoing financial problems, the film eventually found a home at genre-friendly studio Lionsgate and will be released April 13th. “The Cabin in the Woods” had its world premiere last month at the South by Southwest Film Festival, and to say that it was well-received would be a serious understatement. I had the chance to speak with Joss and Drew (as well as some of the cast) with a roomful of other journalists two days after the premiere. Here are some highlights from the roundtable chat, although because of the secretive nature of the film’s story, beware that spoilers may follow.

Joss Whedon on whether making a horror movie was the next natural step for a filmmaker with a habit of killing off his characters.

We like killing characters, but I think we’re ready to step it up and kill actual people. (Laughs) I do not look forward to killing people. I love the people. The point of this movie, I think to a large extent… was definitely about the idea that people are not expendable, and that as a culture and for our own entertainment we assume that they are. Although I absolutely love horror movies and always have, I love the most when I really, really care about the people in dire trouble.

With the exception of “Alien,” I think… It’s not that I don’t care about them; it’s that I was very frightened by that movie because they didn’t care about each other. I didn’t think they were going to band together and fight back. I thought, “These guys would sell each other down the river in a heartbeat.”

Joss Whedon on the inspiration for the story.

The story itself really just sort of popped out. And then because it’s so clearly the kind of thing that we love – which is true horror with a cold eye toward “What is that about?” at the same time as we’re in the thick of it – and then once the idea just sort of came, it was years before we actually sat down and did it. But that was what made it so easy to do when we finally did, because we bandied back and forth… This is an entire movie of “I wish we could.” It’s too raging ids just enjoying themselves for 90 minutes.

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