by David Price

Fear. It’s the horror writer’s bread and butter because; well we’re all afraid of something, right? As horror writers, we do our best to convey our own irrational fears into our stories; hoping they strike a chord with the reader who wants to be scared. To me, it’s those phobia-type fears, the ones you just can’t explain why they freak you out so much; they make the most memorable stories. I mean, sure, death is usually going to find its way into any horror story, but that’s the easy one, isn’t it? Everyone’s afraid of death. But, it’s those little phobias that we don’t want to admit we have, which a horror writer can still use to give us the heebie- jeebies. A good horror writer will latch onto one of these “irrational” fears, probably something they have lived with themselves to some degree, and do their best to transfer that terrifying experience to the reader.

Claustrophobia’s a good one to start with. How many of you are afraid of tight spaces? I know people who can’t get an MRI without a sedative or watch movies in which someone is buried alive. Even elevators bother some people, I assume because they feel trapped for a while. Tight spaces never use to bother me at all. Growing up, I thought spelunking (cave exploring) looked like a pretty interesting hobby. When I was younger and my parents took us on vacation, I always wanted to check out the local tourist caves or mines. There was something hidden and mysterious down in those dark corners of the earth that appealed to me.

About five years ago, my wife and I took our kids to see a natural tourist attraction, the Lost River Gorge, up in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. There was one rock formation called the lemon squeezer that you have to twist and maneuver your body through. Everyone with claustrophobia avoids this particular attraction like the plague. My seven-year-old daughter squirmed her way to the other side, so I decided to give it a shot. Well, you guessed it, I got stuck. I couldn’t move for about thirty seconds no matter what I tried. That’s when the panic hit me. My heart started racing. Before I completely lost my cool, I tried in my calmest voice to explain to my daughter that I was stuck. Let me tell you, immobility is the wrong time to get an adrenaline rush. I realized that I had to calm myself down, if only for my daughter’s sake. I closed my eyes and took deep breaths until I could feel my heart slowing to a more reasonable beat. When I collected my thoughts, it occurred to me that backwards was the best option. I reversed the twisting that got me there in the first place and slowly backed my way out to freedom.

For years after that, my chest tightened up every time I remembered the event. My heart raced when I watched a scene from the movie The Descent where one of the spelunkers gets stuck in an impossibly tight crevice. She panicked and so did I. Now, I used to love that movie, and the first time I saw that scene it didn’t bother me at all. After my incident with the lemon squeezer, I could barely watch it. I avoided watching another favorite of mine, Kill Bill: Vol. 2, during this time as well because of the scene where Michael Madsen buries Uma Thurman alive. I just couldn’t take it.

I’d say claustrophobia had a good grip on me for three years or so, but I’ve been better lately. Thinking about tight spaces or watching someone get caught in one, like Ryan Reynolds in Buried or James Franco in 127 Hours no longer freaks me out. It was a strange three years, though.

Before the lemon squeezer, I never truly understood what all the claustrophobic fuss was about. I get it now. I’m not sure if I’m fully over it, but I’d like to put it to the test. Maybe it’s time to head back over to the Lost River Gorge and see if I can make it through the lemon squeezer this time. What do you think? Well I managed to write that without hyperventilating, so maybe I really am better. One thing’s for sure, now that I know what it’s like; you’ll be reading about some claustrophobic situations in stories of mine sometime in the future. And if I’m any good, you’ll know what it’s like to be caught in a tiny space, unable to move, heartbeat accelerating, hyperventilating, eyes darting uncontrollably this way and that, adrenaline coursing through your veins and making you struggle more, lodging you even tighter into your narrow little prison from which you’ll never escape.

Two Actors Leave the Forest to Discuss ‘The Cabin in the Woods’

Two Actors Leave the Woods to Discuss The Cabin in the Woods

by Jason Harris

Actors Kristen Connolly and Fran Krantz. Photo by Jason Harris.

Kristen Connolly and Fran Krantz, two of the stars of The Cabin in the Woods, recently sat down in a Boston hotel to discuss their movie, which opens in theaters on Friday.

The movie was written by Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard and directed by Goddard.

Krantz thought the script was “perfect” while Connolly was “surprised” by it.

“I was blown away when I first read it,” Krantz said. “I worked with Joss so I expected it to be more than what the title suggested.”

He never could have predicted in his “wildest imagination” where this movie was going.

The Cabin in the Woods movie poster. Photo by Jason Harris.

“The poster says, you think you know the story, but it couldn’t be more accurate,” Krantz said.

As Connolly was reading the script, it was hard for her to picture some parts including the scene where her character is getting the crap beat out of her, she said. But in the finish product, the music in that scene is “really amazing.”

Krantz felt such a strong connection to the script and felt an “ownership” to it, which he considers “rare in an actor.”

“It was difficult if I didn’t get it, it was going to haunt me for the rest of my life because I loved the movie so much on paper.”

Even though the movie was shot in 2009, Krantz never lost faith that it would see the inside of a movie theater even though other people didn’t think it would.

“I knew how good the movie was,” Krantz said. “I was always confident that it would come out. It’s satisfying now that you can already feel the buzz around it.”

Connolly said, “it was cool to watch [the movie] at South by Southwest. It was so crazy, it was like a rock show. There was cheering and laughing. It was so cool that there was so much energy in that room. It was a truly extraordinary experience.”

Both Connolly and Krantz auditioned for their parts in the movie. At the time, Krantz was working on Whedon’s newest television series, but that didn’t give him a leg up on anyone else.

“I auditioned like any other movie, which was weird since I was working on Dollhouse,” Krantz said.

When Goddard visited the set to talk over possible shooting locations with Whedon before Krantz even got a call about auditioning for a part, he walked over to where they were talking.

“I’m a big horror film fan so I just kind of wandered over. I wanted to see what they were talking about. They were looking at potential lakes for potential shooting locations.”

Krantz said, one of those locations was “the original Friday the 13th Camp Crystal Lake.”

“I started geeking out,” Krantz said. “I was a big fan of those movies.”

He told them it would be so cool if they would film the movie there, but the movie ended up being filmed in Vancouver.

Krantz and Connolly had good things to say about some of their co-stars.

“I think Richard [Jenkins] and Bradley’s [Whitford] performances are so funny,” Connolly said.

Krantz thought everyone on the movie brought their “’A’ game.”

Krantz said, “the performances are so great across the board.”

During filming, he saw the dailies of co-star Chris Hemsworth and thought he was “a movie star.” Hemsworth received his role in Thor and the Red Dawn remake while filming The Cabin in the Woods. Chris’ younger brother, Liam, was considered for the role of Thor first before it went to Chris, Krantz said.

“I know Joss called Kenneth Branagh and at some point it started shifting gears in his direction,” Krantz said. “I was not surprised at all.”

Connolly thought it was a great break and a “no brainer” that Hemsworth received the role of Thor.

The Cabin in the Woods is full of scares and fears. Everything a person can be afraid of is in the movie, Connolly said.

“I think what I feel most afraid of is drowning or being buried alive.”

She mentioned a particular scene in the movie where she is in a pond. She also found it hard to watch the scene in Kill Bill:Vol. 2, where Uma Thurman’s character is buried alive.

“I have to get up and leave the room because [that scene] is so intense,” Connolly said about Kill Bill.

The fear that bothers Krantz is “claustrophobia.”

The Descent killed me because of that. The monsters were scary, but I was far more uncomfortable with the earlier tight space moments.”

You can travel tomorrow to see what fears The Cabin in the Woods contains when it opens in theaters nationwide.