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SYFY WIRE Oppenheimer

How The Cabin in the Woods Was Inspired by the Manhattan Project

Before Christopher Nolan's Oppenheimer, there was Drew Goddard's The Cabin in the Woods.

By Josh Weiss

Over a decade before Christopher Nolan delivered Oppenheimer's Oscar-winning look at the development of the world's first atomic bomb through the eyes of theoretical physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer, writer/director Drew Goddard was offering up his own tribute to the top-secret Manhattan Project by way of The Cabin in the Woods (airing regularly on SYFY).

An unabashed love letter to the horror genre as a whole, the directorial debut from the writer behind Cloverfield starts off as a typical tale of hair-raising suspense with a group of sexed-up teenagers experiencing supernatural events at an Evil Dead-style cabin in the middle of the woods.

It's not long before the movie (co-written by Goddard and Joss Whedon) pulls the rug out from under the viewer, revealing that the teens are actually part of a carefully-orchestrated ritual meant to appease eldritch gods. The entire farce is run out of a high-tech facility containing state-of-the-art surveillance equipment and a rich menagerie of monsters, ghosts, demons, and slasher baddies just waiting to be unleashed on unfortunate sacrifice victims.

For More on The Cabin in the Woods:
WTF Moments: The perfectly apocalyptic end of The Cabin in the Woods
How Cabin in The Woods Got a Helping Hand from Nightmare on Elm Street Star Heather Lagenkamp
Microbial monsters and chemical cocktails: The science behind 'The Cabin in the Woods'

How 2011's The Cabin in the Woods Pays Homage to the Manhattan Project

Catching up with Gizmodo back in 2012, Goddard explained how the look of Cabin's secret headquarters was inspired by his hometown of Los Alamos, New Mexico, where the United States government constructed a laboratory (and adjoining town) for the sole sake of creating an atomic device before the Nazis could. The lab, as you're probably aware, still operates to this day.

"That just felt like the world of Cabin in the Woods for me. It inspired all of the design, I just handed manuals of what Los Alamos looked like in the 1950s to my production designer [Martin Whist]," the filmmaker said. "We even studied the costumes. I just keep coming back to where I grew up, watching these decent kind suburban men go to work, every day making these weapons of mass destruction. And I wanted to explore that more. It's a strange town, it's a very strange town to grow up in… I can't escape its influence and I'll probably be influenced by Los Alamos for the rest of my life."

Goddard called on his historical roots several years later when it came time to pen the screenplay for Ridley Scott's adaptation of The Martian. "I was surrounded by real scientists growing up and I was impressed by their great sense of humor and positivity,” he told the Los Alamos Daily Post. "The Martian is a movie about scientists, and scientists taking care of one another and trying to solve problems."

The Cabin in the Woods airs regularly on SYFY. Click here for more scheduling details! Christopher Nolan's Oppenheimer — which recently won a total of seven Academy Awards (including Best Picture) at the 96th Oscars — is now available to own from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment.

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