[As I am comparing the content of the film to the content of the tie-in books, some spoilers will inevitably result.]
Ryan Daley writes in: For those who enjoyed Josh Whedon and Drew Goddard’s genre-deconstructing The Cabin in the Woods last weekend, Titus Publishing is releasing a couple of tie-in books that should be on your radar. Both “The Cabin in the Woods: A Visual Companion to the Film” and “The Cabin in the Woods: The Official Movie Novelization” hit American bookstores this week. Visual Companion is a thick, glossy paperback packed with photos and behind-the-scenes info, while the Official Novelization is exactly what it sounds like, a 300-page mass-market novel, penned by esteemed horror author Tim Lebbon, and based on Whedon and Goddard’s screenplay. While Visual Companion has plenty of redeeming qualities, I’ve never quite understood the point of movie tie-in novels, particularly with a film like The Cabin in the Woods, which serves as a one-of-a-kind cinematic experience that needs no embellishment. Details lie beyond the break.
The Cabin in the Woods was practically conceived as a cult classic, and the Visual Companion is aimed at fans that fell in love with the film from the very beginning. It begins with an exhaustive interview with Whedon and Goddard that stretches on for an interminable 40 pages. If anything, the interview is too exhaustive, as some questions are repeated using slightly different phrasing. The full screenplay follows, interspersed with cast photos, character pages, and anecdotes from the actors. The final portion of the book consists of behind-the-scenes images of the multitude of monstrous horrors featured in the last act of The Cabin in the Woods, with an afterword by Whedon.
The Visual Companion essentially serves as a photo yearbook of the cinematic experience, and in that regard, it’s an enormous success. The book is packed with hundreds of crystal-clear photos, freezing the creative imagery that seemed to pass like a flash while watching the film. The included screenplay fleshes out a couple of minor moments (most notably the Truth or Dare scene), but it serves as a mere bonus when the hundreds of lustrous photos are concerned. Visual Companion is a behind-the-scenes photo album first and foremost––the rest is just window dressing.
While it retains the film’s original dialogue, the Official Novelization literalizes everything subtle about Goddard and Whedon’s clever script, adding unnecessary character motivations and backstory where none are required. Don’t get me wrong, Lebbon’s novelization is completely adequate. But like virtually all movie tie-in novels, it’s an unnecessary addition to the Cabin in the Woods experience. And really, who is the audience for a tie-in novel to a movie as singularly original as The Cabin in the Woods? Those who have seen the film will have little interest in having the events recapped in novel form––they’ll probably just see the movie again. And those who haven’t experienced the film would be silly to let a half-assed tie-in novel ruin the wonderful surprises the movie has to offer. - Ryan Daley
The Cabin in the Woods: The Official Visual Companion: 4 out of 5 Skulls
The Cabin in the Woods: The Official Novelization: 2.5 out of 5 Skulls