When I first saw The Cabin in the Woods I was surprised by how compelling this horror film proved itself to be. The comedy was incredible, and it seemed to make a commentary on traditional horror film formats, both as parody and homage. This successful blend made me intrigued as to what went on behind the scenes, particularly with the writing. Luckily I could appease my interest with The Cabin in the Woods: The Official Visual Companion.
This book is definitely made for Joss Whedon fans. It is essentially broken into two sections: An interview with director Drew Goddard and producer Joss Whedon (both of whom wrote the story), and the screenplay, which is accompanied by various notes about the production from essential crew members.
The interview is definitely the best part of the book. It covers all the essential questions about production: the writing process, casting, production, etc. The most interesting part of the film-making process definitely seems to have been the writing process. I don’t want to delve too far into it because I think you can learn much more by hearing it directly from the filmmakers, but the gist of it is that Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard had this story in mind that they absolutely had to write. So they locked themselves into a hotel to write the script and at the end of one weekend they came out with the first draft (which was very close to the final draft) of The Cabin in the Woods.
As the reader, you learn that so much more went into the story than could ever have been imagined. I even got the impression that it was written as a commentary on society. I also love all the little details that went into it; the depth that went into each and every villain, some of which you won’t even see until you watch the movie for a fifth time.
Beyond the interview, however, I felt that there is much left to be desired. There are not enough interviews with other crew members, so I never felt that I got an understanding of the film as a whole. The film-making process goes beyond the writer and director, and in a movie that involves so many creatures and things that go bump in the night, I would have been happier if I had heard much more from the special effects artists than what we’re given. Through the interview with the filmmakers, I felt like they were really trying to push the DVD onto the reader, saying, “This will be a great special feature!”
I’m afraid I can’t really recommend this book much beyond a coffee table book. If you’re not a crazy film collector or completely obsessed with this film, I suggest you just get the DVD and listen to the audio commentary; it’ll probably provide you with everything (and more) that you’d get out of this book. Sadly, I can only give this book 2.5 out of 5 Nerdskulls.