Come September, Universal Studios Florida guests will have a first-ever chance to step into “The Cabin in the Woods.” The popular 2012 horror film is the first haunted house to be announced for Halloween Horror Nights 2013, exclusively in Orlando (not in Hollywood).
The maze will mirror the story and events of the film, but from an entirely different viewpoint. Instead of guests following the main characters, they are joining the movie’s secret facility as new hires in an orientation of sorts. But after a quick trip to the cabin, it’s clear that the “purge” button has already been hit, unleashing all kinds of monsters, wreaking havoc on everyone and everything. Those who have seen the movie will instantly recognize important settings from throughout, including the cabin, facility, elevator hallway, and character-containing cubes.
“The Cabin in the Woods” is an out-there horror film from the creative minds of Joss Whedon (“Buffy the Vampire Slayer”, “Firefly”) and Drew Goddard (“Lost”, “Cloverfield”) that spun the cliched, creepy old wilderness setting with plenty of twists, injecting humor and over-the-top gore to create a movie that surprises audiences until the very end. Starring a core group of college students on vacation, the film quickly summons (and often satirizes) every horror genre while still remaining completely original. It’s a tough film to describe without giving away too much.
Construction is set to begin on “The Cabin in the Woods” maze next week or the week after. It will be located in one of Universal’s soundstages, giving them the best opportunities to recreate famous scenes from the film.
To learn more about “The Cabin in the Woods” coming to Universal Orlando, I spoke with the film’s director Drew Goddard as well as Halloween Horror Nights creative director Mike Aiello.
(Be sure to read much more of their thoughts and insight on this haunted house announcement in my article at FoxNews.com.)
Goddard, a fan of Halloween Horror Nights, said he and Whedon wrote the movie allowing for the concept to grow. “The cabin universe allows you to work in anything in the genre of horror that fits in the universe,” he said. He calls its inclusion at Horror Nights “a dream come true.”
Goddard even plans to cause a few screams himself with a surprise appearance at the event, though he may not exactly be recognizable. “They said they’d let me dress up like a merman and scare people, so I’ll see you guys there.”
Which of the movie’s many menacing monsters will appear in the maze? Plenty. According to Aiello, “Guests will be assaulted by terrifying beasts taken right from the big screen – including the Hell Lord, the Dollfaces, the vicious Sugarplum Fairy, the Doctors and more.”
And yes - there will be a unicorn, one of Aiello’s favorite parts of the film. Though Goddard noted they need “unicorn wranglers” on hand because “the tricky thing about unicorns is that they do actually stab people.”
Universal isn’t pulling any punches when it comes to the film’s over-the-top gore either. Aiello admitted, “There is a lot of gore in this maze. The elevator chamber literally from floor to ceiling is covered in blood.” And while there will be no giant demon god ending the experience, there will be a massive gathering of characters from the film - and Aiello added that a few of Universal’s own creations from the past will find their way in.
Scare actors will be playing both the roles of aggressors and victims throughout the maze. “The back half of the ‘Cabin’ film was a full onslaught of these creatures attacking anyone they could get their hands on,” said Aiello, and that “anyone” will quickly turn into guests flowing through.
For those not familiar with the film, its trailer just barely scratches the surface of what fates await its main characters:
Among its more memorable early moments is a “truth or dare” sequence involving a uncomfortably intimate encounter with a stuffed wolf head:
When asked if that scene will make its way into the maze, Goddard joked, “I’m going to be there making out with the wolf’s head.” Aiello added, “That was the last line in the contract deal.”
Of course, that seemingly innocent game leads its players down a horrific path, setting in motion the events that lead many of them to their doom. And it all certainly culminates in an unexpectedly monstrous grand finale.
Here are closer looks at just a few of the creatures that will be seen in the maze:
Under the tagline, “What evil has taken root?” Universal promises Halloween Horror Nights 23 will be “unlike any other year.” The logo and tagline for this 23rd year of the event has been revealed to have roots protruding from the “23″, an indication that the “family tree” connecting all prior icons and characters will continue to contribute to the ongoing story this year.
Aiello notes like last year, this year’s houses won’t have any connection between them. “Mazes are singular events. We’re not trying to link the mazes into one overall story,” he said. But he did emphasize that this year’s event will have “its share of surprises” to be revealed soon.
One of those surprises may be the mystery man (woman? creature?) seen in the ominous clouds found in Universal’s Facebook cover photo, updated tonight:
Beyond “The Cabin in the Woods,” other themes and intellectual property rumored to be featured at Halloween Horror Nights 2013 in haunted houses and/or scare zones include the return of The Walking Dead (this time set inside season 3′s prison), Evil Dead (based on the recent remake, not the original), and Resident Evil (which was featured at Universal Studios Japan’s Horror Nights event last year), among others, all to be revealed in the coming weeks.
This year, Universal plans to engage their most loyal audiences more than ever before through Legendary Truth, a mixed media experience allowing fans to stay on top of the tiniest details of the carefully crafted story lines that permeate through Halloween Horror Nights. Just last night, the official Legendary Truth Facebook page announced bi-weekly updates through its social media channels. And Universal will also soon make available specially themed apparel to allow hardcore fans to recognize each other offline, particularly as in-park events take place throughout the Horror Nights run.
With the grand opening of Transformers: The Ride 3D come and gone, Universal Orlando now turns its full attention to Halloween Horror Nights, its most highly-anticicpated annual event, filling the next few weeks with hints, teasers, and ultimately announcements of each of its upcoming mazes, scare zones, shows, and other entertainment offerings for this year.
Keep your eyes peeled on Inside the Magic for constant coverage of all things Halloween Horror Nights in both Orlando and Hollywood from now through the end of the event in November.