One week ago, Shock Till You Drop dropped in on Washington D.C. to host a screening of The Cabin in the Woods with stars Fran Kranz and Kristen Connelly. A Q&A followed, allowing the two to speak openly and candily about the film, knowing full well the audience had seen the film and all of its surprises.
While it would be tough to post that Q&A hear (it was spoiler-filled), we did catch up to Kranz earlier today for a quick chat we could run. One that would be spoiler-free, but informative nonetheless.
The actor, who stars in the film as the easy-going stoner “Marty,” previously worked with Cabin producer/co-writer Joss Whedon on the television series Dollhouse. He also appeared in The Village and the Lucy Liu-starring Rise. Read on to hear his thoughts about contemporary horror and how The Cabin in the Woods fits in, working with his cast members and working alongside Goddard and Whedon.
Shock Till You Drop: Every so often a film like The Cabin in the Woods comes along to deconstruct the genre. Scream was the last time I thought it worked. Now, we have Goddard and Whedon’s film. What are your thoughts on horror over the last ten years? Is now the right time for a flick like Cabin?
Fran Kranz: I loved the first Saw movie, I thought it was awesome and it had a great concept. I like Eli Roth and thought the first Hostel was kind of fun. Cabin Fever, too. But I know the Saw and Hostel franchises were definitely under scrutiny by Drew and Joss, I know they were disappointed by where horror films were headed or where they were presently. I know Cabin Fever isn’t recent, but can’t think of any “cabin” movies that were made recently. The “cabin” reminds me of the glory days of horror in the ’70s and ’80s. The Evil Dead and the original Friday the 13th. The Cabin in the Woods pays homage to those classics. When we started shooting, Drew gave us those movies to watch – The Evil Dead, the original Friday the 13th, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Night of the Living Dead – he wanted to get us into the mindset of the classics. At the end of the day, Joss and Drew could speak better of this than I can. I just see Cabin in the Woods as a very fun movie. Great adventure movie. When I finished the script, “horror film” did not come to mind, or even “funny horror film.” I just thought it was a fun, crazy, action, adventure movie. It steps outside of the genre and is so hybrid genre and unique. There are so many movie kidnapping and killing movies – torture porn – I just don’t see any value in those. Cabin is needed and wanted and I think audiences will understand why we’re getting it now. And, I just drew a blank… [laughs]
Shock: Well, I think you answered the question well. I have to keep reminding myself that my line of questioning is for those readers who have not seen it, unlike our Q&A in which we were able to talk freely because the audience just watched it.
Kranz: Yeah, it’s tricky. But I don’t think any one leak of a secret is going to ruin the rest of the film because there are so many great things about the story.
Shock: Let’s talk a bit about the camaraderie with your fellow actors, we did not get a chance to touch on that last week.
Kranz: Well, that reminds me of what I was going to say about horror films in general. Drew was saying how the young people in horror films…he doesn’t get the sense that the characters in these movies don’t like each other anymore. In current horror films, one person is killed and the rest of the characters don’t even care. They don’t seem to have real relationships. That’s something we stressed in our movie. Drew wanted us to be believable as friends and love each other. He said, don’t pay attention to turning the conventions on their heads, that’s my job. He wanted us to focus on being real and making the performances honest. So, in terms of camaraderie, that informed us to actually being friends. We all loved each other. We were up in Vancouver and had our own Cabin in the Woods thing going. It was just us in a hotel, having dinner, getting drinks. We grew tight and I’m still very close with everyone and I have a special man crush on Chris Hemsworth. [laughs]
Shock: This creative power team that is Drew and Joss, how did they work together on set? What was your interaction like. I’m curious about the creative dynamic they have when the two have written the script and one is wearing the director’s hat and the other is wearing the producing hat.
Kranz: I wish I could give you a good example, but Joss did take a step back, but was involved behind-the-scenes. On set, he literally stood behind Drew and he had his chair behind him. Drew would have his head buried in the monitor and staring intently, but Joss was removed. He wasn’t in my initial audition and I think he thought it would be a distraction since we had worked together on Dollhouse. I think Joss was sensitive and aware to the fact that Drew was the director and didn’t want to get in the way. But he was up there and he had an office. He directed second unit and a lot of what was in the film’s third act was by him. He obviously played a major role. Early on, I was worried because I was the comedic relief, the slacker/stoner type and that character usually dies early on. But I saw that I could go big with him and over-the-top. I had a bit more freedom to make crazier choices. I asked Joss – because I was worried I was taking it too far – “Am I a cartoon?” And with a big smile on his face, he said, “Yes.” So, I knew I hadn’t gone too far, I could be a decoy of sorts.
We’d like to thank Fran for chatting with us again. He also commented on working on Joss Whedon’s upcoming Much Ado About Nothing, an adaptation Whedon shot up at his house with a handful of friends. Read about that here.