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The Cabin In The Woods: The Official Visual Companion by Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard

01/06/2012. Contributed by Patrick Mahon

Buy The Cabin In The Woods: The Official Visual Companion in the USA - or Buy The Cabin In The Woods: The Official Visual Companion in the UK

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pub: Titan Books. 176 page illustrated softcover. Price: 17.99 (UK), $19.95 (US), $22.95 (CAN). ISBN: 978-1-84856-524-1.

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If you watched 'The Cabin In The Woods' at the cinema earlier this year and want to know more about the film or recapture the experience of watching it, this 'Official Visual Companion' could be just what you're looking for.

If you don't already know the plot of 'The Cabin In The Woods', then have a look at my review of the official movie novelisation, elsewhere amongst this month's reviews in SFCrowsnest. In the briefest terms, the film is a fresh take on the stock sub-genre of the teen slasher movie. As is to be expected from any film with which Joss Whedon is involved, the story takes a lot of the expectations for such a movie and turns them on their heads.

There are three main elements to the book. It starts with an extensive interview with the film's two writers, Joss Whedon of 'Buffy The Vampire Slayer' fame and Drew Goddard, the writer of 'Cloverfield'. As a long-term fan of Joss Whedon's work, this interview on its own would have justified the cost of the book for me. It is extensive and wide-ranging, the interviewer not limiting herself purely to questions about the making of 'The Cabin In The Woods'. Whedon and Goddard answer the many questions with great candour, so the interview provides great insight into their motivations as film-makers, their working patterns and the many challenges that have to be overcome if you are going to bring original and uncompromising screenplays to the cinema or to television. At the same time, there is a lot of discussion of the writing and filming of 'The Cabin In The Woods', so if you want to know more about the making of this particular film, you'll find plenty to interest you, too.

Roughly two-thirds of the book is then taken up by a copy of the screenplay, accompanied by lots of stills from the movie and information on the main characters, locations and props. If you've seen the film, this will allow you to replay the experience at your leisure, whilst gaining a lot of insight into aspects of the story that are only hinted at in the final cinematic release. It's a bit like having a book full of the extras you get when you buy a two-DVD version of a favourite feature film. If you haven't watched the movie, there is enough material in here to give you a pretty good idea of what you missed. I'd be surprised if, by the end of it, you didn't want to pre-order a copy of the DVD.

The whole thing ends with a feature on the creation of the huge number of monsters that are central to the last third of the story. This includes a short but fascinating interview with David and Heather Anderson, the husband and wife team who run AFX Studio, which did the hard work of designing and producing all the monsters ahead of filming.

The book is large and printed on high quality gloss paper, so the hundreds of photographs dotted throughout the text come out really well.

My only real criticism of the book is that, for me, it is too short. I would have loved to have found out more about the main characters, props and locations than they found space for here. In particular, they could easily have doubled the length of the final part of the book, about the creation of the monsters, without there being any risk of exhausting the subject.

'The Cabin In The Woods: The Official Visual Companion' is a book that fans of Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard will want to own. It gives a real insight into the way that these two talented film-makers turn a specific idea into cinematic reality. If you liked the film, this is a great way to extend your enjoyment while you wait for the DVD to be released.

Patrick Mahon

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