Joss Whedon (The Avengers, TV’s “Buffy The Vampire Slayer”) and Drew Goddard (Cloverfield) co-wrote the magnificent The Cabin In The Woods. Directed by Goddard, the film arrives on Blu-ray Disc (plus Digital Copy), DVD (plus Digital Copy) on September 18th. from Lionsgate. And if you’re feeling impatient (or don’t like discs) it will be available as a digital download – with some extras – this Tuesday, September 4th (iTunes link here).
Last week I hopped on the phone with Kristen Connolly, who plays final girl Dana in the film. We discussed the physical demands of the role, working with Drew Goddard and the differences between Cabin and her work in the upcoming The Bay.
In the film, “A rambunctious group of five college friends steal away for a weekend of debauchery in an isolated country cabin, only to be attacked by horrific supernatural creatures in a night of endless terror and bloodshed. Sound familiar? Just wait. As the teens begin to exhibit standard horror movie behavior, a group of technicians in a control room are scrutinizing, and sometimes even controlling, every move the terrified kids make. With their efforts continually thwarted by the all-powerful eye in the sky, do they have any chance of escape?”
You play sort of the good girl and the survivor girl. The movie is pretty meta, but your character isn’t self aware of the horror stuff. Can you talk about finding that balance?
I think Drew [Goddard; director] was clear from the beginning that there wouldn’t be any winking at the camera. I think he wanted us to play everything truthfully and naturally and invest in the circumstances around us. And that really helped keep us on task.
You go through so much in this movie! You’re nearly beaten to death on the dock.
Yeah, that was pretty rough.
And obviously you have a very physical final act. Did you feel battered at the end of each day?
They told me in the final audition, “you know, this is going to be really hard. Can you swim and do this and that?” And I’m like, “yeah I can swim! I go the gym, I’ll be fine!” I don’t think I had any idea how hard it would be. That dock scene was just two full nights in a row, all night long. It was really, really tough. I know my stunt double took the worst hits, but there was still some pretty messed up stuff.
What was it like working with the ensemble?
It was great. We had a ball! It was the five of us in a hotel in Vancouver for three months. I had to do Scuba training, Chris had to learn how to ride a motorcycle and poor Fran had to learn how to roll joints all day long.
Drew told me that there are two sides to each character in the movie. There’s the archetype they represent and then there’s the actual character. Do you have an idea where the divider between those two falls for you?
Yeah I think the teacher affair at the beginning is meant to show that I’m not your typical virgin in a horror movie. In the original script he was married but then they took it out because I guess audiences don’t like characters who have affairs with married people. But then I think it’s clear later in the film that these characters are actually being manipulated into becoming those archetypes. They did a great job with that.
This was Drew’s first time directing a feature. I expected the script would be great, but I was struck by how remarkably cinematic the film was. Was he doing a lot of takes? Or was the set pretty relaxed?
The set was relaxed, but we did a lot of takes. There were loads and loads of them. But it was fun and exciting, “that was awesome. Let’s do it again!” I don’t mind doing a lot of takes if there’s a reason to do them. I’m actually doing House of Cards right now with David Fincher who is obviously notorious for doing a lot of takes, but I actually love it. I wish he was there more often.
You’ve also got The Bay coming out. Can you tell us a little bit about that?
I haven’t seen it yet, but it’s very different from Cabin. It doesn’t have that meta element. It’s a very naturalistic and realistic look at a terrifying situation. It’s more found-footage so I got to hold the camera. It was a totally different experience. I shot that in two weeks and Cabin was three months, they couldn’t have been more different.