When Fran Kranz and Kristen Connolly first signed on for the Joss Whedon-penned horror flick The Cabin in the Woods, they immediately knew they were going to be part of something special.  Helmed by Drew Goddard making his directorial debut, the film tells the story of five college friends who travel to a remote cabin in the woods for a relaxing weekend getaway.  They soon discover unimaginable terrors there, and together they must survive long enough to learn the truth behind the mysterious cabin.

Originally shot in 2009 under MGM, the film sat on the shelf for two years because the studio went bankrupt.  Lionsgate acquired the movie and released it this year at South by Southwest, where despite its well-traveled premise; the picture received significant praise for its brilliant mixture of horror homage and parody.

Recently two of its stars, Fran Kranz and Kristen Connolly, were in Boston to screen The Cabin in the Woods, and I was lucky enough to participate in a roundtable interview with them.  Below are some of the highlights of that conversation.

Q: What was it like working with Joss Whedon?

Fran Kranz: I knew there had to be more than meets the eye just from having worked with him [Joss Whedon], but it exceeded my wildest expectations.  Honestly I think it’s one of the best scripts I’ve ever read.  I’m a horror film fan, but I love movies and I really do think it transcends the genre.  I think it incorporates action and comedy, and science fiction so well, that it’s just unlike anything I’ve ever seen.  And the journey of the story, it goes someplace completely unexpected, and it escalates so well. 

So reading it, it was just like I don’t think I could stop smiling for like days, but also I didn’t have the part yet. So I was freaked out for the whole period from having read the script to actually getting the part was just pins and needles [be]cause I realized if I don’t get this role, it’s going to haunt me forever.  It was the coolest script I ever read, and it was the coolest part, and I couldn’t believe that this was so close to being mine.  To all my friends I was like ‘I need to get this.  This is the coolest thing I’ve ever read.’  So it was tough, it was very hard.

Kristen Connolly: Fran was like the first person cast, so literally…

FK: And a lot of people got the script, you got the script after being offered [the part].  I read with Kristen, and we had to do this scene that must have been so bizarre because she hadn’t read the full script, and I think we tried to explain it. Joss and Drew [Goddard] wanted her and I came into it, and Joss and Drew said ‘This is the girl, come in and read and we’ll put you guys on tape together.’  So I think they tried to tell you as much as they could…

KC: Yeah they did.

FK: But it was still just like ‘What on earth is this movie about?’

KC: It’s one of those movies that I’m glad is so shrouded in secrecy in what we’re allowed to say, because I don’t know how I would describe it to anybody.  It’s almost impossible.  It’s one of those movies where I think the more you try to describe it, the weirder and stupider it sounds.  Then when you see it, it’s like everything is so awesome, but when you try to explain it, it just comes out…I mean I would try to explain it…

Q: At a certain point, it becomes a spoiler.  You don’t want to tell somebody, and ruin things for them.

FK: I want to start saying that it’s about five kids that go to a cabin in the woods for a weekend and it’s a really fun weekend, and they make it back to class on time.

Q: What’s their casting process? Do you mail them a video or do you go into a room?

FK: They were typical auditions.  They were standard auditions.  But the original sides, it’s what they call; you know you get a few pages of script and they kind of mark out what you’re going to read.  But they were fake sides; they were not from the script.

KC: And they were crazy.  There was a scene with Curt [Chris Hemsworth] where we were running from pterodactyls and trying to get into these tunnels, and we keep talking about the tunnels.  And he’s like ‘We’ve got to get in these tunnels Dana!’  And I’m like ‘Ok!’ Then we’re like diving into these things, it’s so intense.

FK: They’ve really got to find those and have them be a DVD feature because they’re so crazy.