How spoiler culture (mostly) spared 'The Cabin in the Woods'
Fran Kranz, from left, Chris Hemsworth and Anna Hutchison star in "The Cabin in the Woods," which opens Friday.
April 12th, 2012
01:18 PM ET

How spoiler culture (mostly) spared 'The Cabin in the Woods'

When "Firefly" and "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" creator Joss Whedon introduced the film "The Cabin in the Woods" last month at the South by Southwest Film Festival in Austin, Texas, he told the audience, "I hope you enjoy it, and then sorta keep it to yourself."

Whedon, the film's writer and producer, really meant it. He even recorded a video plea asking fans who saw the horror film not to give away any of the major plot points online.

It's no secret that the film, long awaited by Whedon fans, doesn't really take place in a cabin in the woods. The trailer points out that a group of college kids only think they're spending a weekend in what is actually a controlled environment. Beyond that, however, fans who have seen the movie already are expected to stay mum on what happens, to avoid ruining it for those who have yet to see the movie, which hits theaters Friday.

The spoiler culture, of course, has been around at least since the dawn of the Internet, and directors have long been asking audiences not to give away surprises, most famously since Alfred Hitchcock and "Psycho." But there now seems to be a renewed focus especially with the advent of social media on making sure that fans don't say too much.

"The Walking Dead" executive producer Glen Mazzara recently told reporters about a "security task force," led by producer Gale Ann Hurd, creator Robert Kirkman and "computer savvy" Scott Kimple. Their job is to make sure leaks about the show's many secrets don't appear online.

"AMC takes this stuff very seriously," Mazzara said. "And we try to see where leaks are coming from and if they're accurate or they're not and then trying to get stuff taken down and it's really like trying to sweep back the ocean."

Fran Kranz, who plays Marty in "The Cabin in the Woods," said he can understand some fans' desire to find out as much as they can about a film or TV series.

“I’m a big fan of horror films, and I want to know about all kinds of movies, and I totally get it," he told CNN. "I find when I meet a fan of Joss’, I’m just as excited about his work as they are. I’ll be first in line to see (Whedon's) ‘The Avengers.' "

Kranz said the secrecy around "Cabin" started from the beginning. His audition was a scene that wasn't even in the film, involving a fake character called the Clickety-Clack Man. He also said that his scripts were watermarked with his name to discourage leaks.

“I do wanna geek out with (fans)," he said. "It does get difficult (not to spill secrets), but I thought, this movie was so cool, I respected the secrecy."

Kranz's first exposure to the world of Whedon was on the short-lived Fox series "Dollhouse." Apparently, he was seen as saying too much about the series in interviews.

"I remember getting a call from Fox saying I was talking too much about ‘Dollhouse,' " he said.

"Cabin" star Kranz, who admits to being a big fan of horror films, is staying mum about the movie's plot.

This secretiveness is nothing new, though, for the "Whedonverse," as fans call it. From "Buffy" on, his shows and films have always been chock-full of surprises, so there's always some secrecy.

"That's always been there with Joss," Kranz said. "He’s got that mischievous glimmer in his eye (from holding on to secrets). He’s got that Mona Lisa smile."

And Whedon's upcoming "The Avengers" is one about which fans have been clamoring to learn more. In fact, there was so much speculation about Skrulls (aliens in the Marvel Comics universe) in the movie that the director had to knock down those rumors.

There's also a lot of secrecy around other big summer blockbusters, such as Ridley Scott's "Prometheus," the plot of which is still largely unknown, and Christopher Nolan's final Batman film, "The Dark Knight Rises."

That hasn't stopped some fans from seeking out answers to their burning questions. But what drives this thirst for spoilers?

"Some people just want to know everything as soon as they can find it out," said Steven Weintraub of the entertainment site Collider.com. "And some of them will say it doesn’t damage the movie experience. They just have to know right now. However, I’d like to think more people are like me and want to stay spoiler-free until they see the movie."

Weintraub has even gone as far as to avoid seeing trailers as much as possible.

Eric "Quint" Vespe writes for Ain't It Cool News, which made a name for itself in the early days of the Internet by posting spoilers and other movie news.

"I think from a fan's perspective the right amount of spoilers can raise the excitement level, but I'm sure from a filmmaker's point of view they want the eyeballs taking in their film to be as fresh as possible," he said. "I personally try to avoid spoilers, but that's a pretty tall order when it comes to my line of work."

With "The Cabin in the Woods," Weintraub said he thinks the fan community has generally respected Whedon's wishes.

"Most online reviewers have done a tremendous job keeping the twists and turns under wraps," he said. "I even hosted a screening of the film in Boston and most went to Twitter and Facebook and did what I asked: They raved about the movie without spoiling it. However, some of the big Hollywood trades that ran early reviews spoiled the entire film. Which makes literally no sense."

There's something else happening, too, Vespe said: "I'm seeing a disturbing trend of critics using their reviews to spoil movies they don't like as a way of trying to ruin the experience for someone who may like the movie."

However, Vespe said he thinks that most of the top entertainment bloggers have moved away from posting spoilers in recent years: "Some of it comes from not wanting to ruin the experience for their readers (typically the cooler blogs and movie sites come at it this way) and some of it comes from not wanting to burn bridges with studios."

Ben Kendrick, an editor at Screenrant.com, however, said he still sees spoilers as prevalent, thanks to social networks.

"It's becoming far more prevalent to inadvertently run into spoilers," he said. "While some people are definitely sensitive about how they discuss spoiler info, censoring themselves on Twitter or putting spoiler warnings in online news and editorial posts, there are still plenty of people who do not censor themselves. Just look at all the tweets that are posted after an episode of 'The Walking Dead' or 'Dexter,' and you'll see message after message that outright spoil the more shocking moments and twists in an episode."

So, despite efforts by Whedon, Mazzara and others, the death of the spoiler is unlikely.

"Listen, it comes down to a personality developed in early childhood," Vespe said. "Do you see a present under the Christmas tree and want to figure it out weeks before opening it, or do you like to let the mystery build up? I wasn't a present-shaker. I liked to imagine that anything could be behind the wrapping paper. I absolutely understand wanting to solve the mystery, and I see a value in the hunt for that information building up the anticipation of actually getting to open the box.

"I just lean more on the side of letting the mystery grow in my mind."

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  6. Scott M.

    If you're looking for a fun, funny movie that turns horror cliches on their heads watch Dale & Tucker vs. Evil, starring Alan Tudyk of Firefly fame and the chunky dude who was in Invasion, Reaper and a bunch of other cool shows that got cancelled too early. The movie is friggin hilarious.

    April 26, 2012 at 1:57 pm |
  7. Oh boy

    I really liked the movie, but didn't LOVE it. It's fun. The reasons that people have for not liking it are amusing. "It looked like a horror movie, but I wasn't scared" " I was told there was a huge twist, but it didn't seem like one to me",......funny. Or the guy complaining about too many cliches and being unoriginal haha....holy crap some of you need brains. People go into it with notions of how they want it to be and it sucks if those ideas aren't met. Just go into these things with no expectations and take it for how its presented, not for how you guessed it might be.

    April 25, 2012 at 5:34 pm |
  8. Charles

    Where have you been? The plots spoilers have been in the movie's Wikipedia article for weeks. I really have no need to see the movie now.

    April 25, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
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    • Imdad

      Epic poster for an epic film! The look for the chaetcarr of Solid Snake in the Metal Gear Solid games I believe.Shame about the sequel Escape to LA' though can never get that awful surfing scene out of my head.

      May 24, 2012 at 1:36 am |
  15. marcsterSK

    I expected another boring generic Friday the 13th ripoff

    Instead, I got a fun and somewhat clever parody of horror cliches

    April 16, 2012 at 7:49 am |
  16. RickR

    "The Cabin in the Woods" was actually a terrific film- very funny, cleverly written, and a lot of fun to watch. I felt there were more than enough twists and turns to keep me interested, and as a fan of horror, I got a huge kick out of seeing so many cliches and well-known films get nods and winks- and the final half hour is worth the price of admission alone. :) Lots of fun. Not scary, but a romp.

    April 16, 2012 at 7:26 am |
  17. How to fix it

    Here's an idea on how not to spoil movies...Quit making remakes and write something original. If you think this is original, you haven't read enough.

    However I will give credit for one thing, its not the remake you think it is, but still saw it coming a mile away.

    April 15, 2012 at 11:36 am |
    • Doug

      Total agreement. I watch a lot of old movies, and read a lot of old books because, well, I'm into that sort of thing. I understand that there are elements of story telling that are unavoidable, and necessary, but when you see a new movie that is verbatim, scene for scene, plot point for plot point, from an old movie or book... and the gall of claiming it's completely original... I don't even know what to say. You self-spoiled your movie by via blatant plagarism...

      April 15, 2012 at 11:06 pm |
  18. Schmuz

    I enjoyed the movie.

    As for the walking dead "security task force" that is bs because full synopsis of every episode of season 2 was posted with 100% accuracy a week before it aired.

    April 14, 2012 at 7:43 pm |
  19. Jason Glugla

    I wish they hadn't stayed quiet. The creator of this film seems to have thought it incredibly clever but it really isn't. It actually kinda stinks.

    April 14, 2012 at 11:51 am |
  20. Jokester

    You've gotta be kidding. The full plot is on Wikipedia already: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Cabin_in_the_Woods (um, spoiler alert).

    April 14, 2012 at 12:35 am |
    • brandon

      there's a difference between the information about the film being available and the film being "spoiled", which is to say that you found out the plot details without wishing to know them. A spoiler warning says that, by continuing to read/watch, you may have the movie spoiled for you.

      I think the movie really has been fairly spoiler free. I think it's in part because the fans know that the not knowing is integral to the movie experience.

      That being said, I didn't see the film as being any more suprising than any episode of Buffy The Vampire slayer. In fact, large parks of it seemed directly taken from the show.

      April 15, 2012 at 8:19 pm |
  21. Wheels

    Smells like diarhea

    April 13, 2012 at 6:18 pm |
  22. SixDegrees

    I have to admit, the trailers for this movie led me to believe it was a typical, summertime teenage hack-and-slash movie, and I was prepared to ignore it at all costs. I only found out yesterday that Whedon and Company were involved, so I will be hot footing it to the theater this weekend to see it.

    Nice that they've kept the spoilers to a minimum. Whedon is a master at surprising twists, and I enjoy them all the more when I totally don't see them coming.

    April 13, 2012 at 5:39 pm |
    • Jason Glugla

      The surprising twist on this one is that there isn't any.

      April 14, 2012 at 11:53 am |
      • Meh

        I agree w/Jason. I was expecting more from this movie after reading various 9/10 rating reviews. Twist? What twist? They tell you what's going on early in the movie. The movie had some cool parts, but it definitely wasn't the game changer in horror film that some of the reviews made it out to be.

        April 15, 2012 at 9:26 am |
      • rlj

        I agree – I was waiting for something that wasn't there.

        April 16, 2012 at 2:42 pm |
  23. Bob

    I'll watch it when mystery science theater views the film.

    April 13, 2012 at 1:42 pm |
  24. Meatwad

    Spoiler, it really is a cabin in the woods and yes they really did murder everybody.

    April 12, 2012 at 3:50 pm |
  25. k

    Same goes for things like 6th Sence...had someone told me the ending to that it really would have blown the whole thing.

    The surprise "Ahhh!" was totally worth it.

    April 12, 2012 at 3:06 pm |
    • rlj

      This is not remotely even close to Sixth Sense. Sixth Sense has a twist – this leaves you waiting for the twist that never comes.

      April 16, 2012 at 2:44 pm |
  26. That guy.

    I agree, spoilers suck. I love watching a show or a movies and goind "where did that come from". Spoilers have ruined two things for me, first I was reading an article about Harry Potter right after the book Order of the phoenix was released and theres it was all about the death of __??. I can't imagine how much better that book would have been if not for me reading that articles. Spoilers suck!!!!

    April 12, 2012 at 1:36 pm |
    • rlj

      Don't worry – this one has nothing to spoil.

      April 16, 2012 at 2:45 pm |