Now that many of us have seen the meta horror wonder that is Cabin In the Woods, we wanted to break down all the little Easter eggs and monstrous glimpses you might have missed.
What should you be on the look out for, on a second viewing? Also what does Cabin's violence say about society's pattern of marginalizing young people? We asked director Drew Goddard, and got all the answers you need right here in this incredibly spoilery interview.
WARNING SPOILERS. GIGANTIC SPOILERS, FROM THIS POINT ON.
Did The Secret Corporation Have A Name, And How Do You Get A Job There?
Drew Goddard: No, no. We wanted to keep that ambiguous for sure. We definitely did [build] a pretty extensive backstory — not for the film, just because that's just the kind of thing Joss and I like to do. Joss and I like to talk about evil monster corporations and what they look like, and how you get hired. So we definitely worked out a pretty extensive backstory, not specifically for the film. [As for how you get hired], It's an elaborate process. I think it's almost exactly matches how you get hired for the CIA — they're very similar, these corporations.
Richard Jenkins and Bradley Whitford's characters often refer to calls from upstairs or calls from downstairs. What's the difference between a call from upstairs and a call from downstairs in this movie? What's the office structure like? Who is on the red phone?
DG: There's many different layers, much like a company there's different floors. You have to assume what we're seeing where Richard Jenkins and Bradley Whitford are, they're probably in the middle of corporate management. So sometimes they'll field calls from upstairs and downstairs, it just depends on which one they're taking. When they get a call on the red phone, that's from downstairs. Unlike other corporations this one goes down rather than up in terms of series of importance.
Why was it important to torture the kids, and not just kill them and let that be that?
DG: I sort of leave that to the audience to decide. I will say that the questions that Cabin raises all involve the treatment of youth in our culture. Not just our culture, but, as a species. We've always idealized youth, and then destroyed youth. That has happened since the beginning of time, and I'm fascinated by why we do that.
Those questions struck to the heart of Cabin — why do we do what we do? It goes back to, "Let's build the virgin up and then throw her into the volcano. Let's put these kids on a mountain top and then stab them with stone knives." That's been happening forever. And now you could argue that, that is happening in let's build them up into superstars, only to destroy them in public. It just keeps happening. There's this need to marginalize them, and put them into different categories so that their voice is not important. It's something we always do, I find myself doing it as I get older. I find myself dismissing youth. You have to realize that the youth cannot be dismissed. At the end of the day, they're not going to care what we do to them, and yet here we are trying. That struggle is at the heart of Cabin.
What Other Monsters and Monster Triggers Are Available?
DG:When the teens tumble down into the secret cellar, they encounter a collection of treasures. Each item calls to the cast: a necklace, a music box, and (of course) a diary. It becomes a massive betting game for the white-shirted staff to see which teen will uncover which monster. So what else was in the basement that could trigger a nightmare?
Obviously the conch shell triggers the Merman! And jewelry box with the dancing ballerina triggers the little girl in the tutu with the giant grinder face, but what else did you spy? In an interview with The Daily Beast Goddard freely admitted that Chris Hemsworth was mere moments away from unlocking the puzzle box and bringing "forth our Lord of Bondage and Pain."
Which Nightmare Creature Was The Director's Favorite?
DG: We have these two guys called the Dismemberment Goblins. And they're just two happy friends who like to dismember people. They're in the background a lot, just ripping people to pieces. They just delighted me to no end, those little guys running around with these big smiles on their faces, ripping people apart.
Did you try and make the bong into the new version of Chekhov's "gun on the mantelpiece" rule?
DG: Yes, let's hope there's a new rule of cinema: Don't show a bong unless you're prepared to use it.
And good news — we were sent a real life version of the collapsable bong, which you can see above!
BIGGEST SPOILER OF THEM ALL. AVERT YOUR EYES UNLESS YOU'VE SEEN THE MOVIE!
Here's a picture of that infamous whiteboard (click to enlarge), which was posted on David Thiel's blog Thiel-a-Vision AV Club's Spoiler Space for Cabin. It apparently comes from the Cabin In The Woods Companion Book. We asked Drew about this whiteboard, and here's what he said.
At some point in the film you present the audience with a whiteboard, a list. Did you realize that once you've presented this list you'd have to insert all of these monsters in the movie?
DG: We knew the whole time, because we set up a lot of the end of the film in the beginning. And it's not just the list, it's what happens in the basement. You can see clues as to where we were heading with this third act. And that required a tremendous amount of preparation with our crew to get everyone on the same page and say, we're really going to build this world. And this world is going to be fed throughout this movie . . .
I spent a lot of my early career under fluorescent lights. That very much informed what we were doing here in Cabin… I didn't want to have disdain for anyone in this movie. I understand why offices need to have office parties. I understand why offices need to have betting pools. No matter what the job, you need things to foster camaraderie and let off steam. Even though the jobs that these people are doing were hyperreal, I wanted them to feel very real. So that people could relate to what's happening. And I feel like the parties and the pools reflect that.