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Book Review: The Cabin in the Woods: The Official Visual Companion

04.19.2012by: Eric Walkuski


Let it be stated upfront that “The Cabin in the Woods: The Official Visual Companion” is only meant for people who have seen the film (or don't mind having it myriad of memorable images ruined for them). It's only important to mention this because there hasn't been a movie in quite some time where the very notion of spoiling the surprises and secrets is verboten. THE CABIN IN THE WOODS is meant to be experienced, not explained.

The Visual Companion will be a certified joy for the movie's already-sizable cult of worshippers, but it'll do for the folks who just plain old “like” it, too. This is just what the doctor (or control room operator) ordered in terms of giving you the CABIN IN THE WOODS intel you so desire. It also passes the time nicely while you wait patiently to see it again.

What will you find within? For starters, an incredibly in-depth interview with Drew Goddard and Joss Whedon, in which the two detail every step of the writing process (the bulk of the script was written over the course of three days in a hotel room), talk about the film's many quirky moments (what's the deal with the wolf make-out scene?) and share their thoughts on the state of modern horror (Whedon loves THE DESCENT but despises the remake of THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE). Spanning over 40 pages, the interview offers up essentially everything you could possibly want to know about the film and the mad scientists behind it.

It's not just Whedon and Goddard's show, however. There are dozens of quotes and tidbits from the cast and crew, all providing insight into some of CABIN's backstory and production. Most prominent is production designer Martin Whist, which figures because the man has a lot of explaining to do. From the cabin to the control room to the elevators, Whist dishes on the ideas behind each of the film's killer sets, as well as explains how they were constructed.

In visual terms (it is a Visual Companion, after all), this book is marvelous; literally hundreds of glossy behind-the-scenes photos and stills from the flick litter the pages. In addition, you're treated to early conceptual sketches for some of the film's more unique characters, and a delightful series of designs reveal aspects of CABIN that you may not have even realized were there – at least, not during your first viewing. Want to get a closer look at the madness that takes place in CABIN's third act? The book has you covered; you get to see almost all of the flick's surprise guests in all their glory.(The book and the movie actually share that attribute: there's so much to look at that exploring it multiple times feels like a must.) Just be warned: You may not want to flip through these pages at work or on the bus – unless you don't care if people see you staring lovingly at images of intestines and ripped-apart bodies.

Finally, you're also given the full screenplay, which is colorfully adorned with scene-specific pictures from the film; this is obviously the final draft of Goddard and Whedon's labor of love, as it's almost exactly like the finished product. As with any screenplay, you'll notice some slight differences, which makes it all the more interesting. Crucially, the sense of humor and fun that is the movie's calling card is right there in the pages. These guys obviously knew what they wanted from the start. Get the idea? If you need a serious CABIN IN THE WOODS fix, the Visual Companion will serve you very well.




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