With The Avengers: Age of Ultron in the can and winging its way to theaters around the world, Joss Whedon probably thought he had a few days off work to relax. Unfortunately, some legal litigation has just sprung up to ruin his time off.
Self-published author Peter Gallagher is claiming the Whedon horror-comedy, The Cabin in the Woods is a blatant rip-off of his novel The Little White Trip: A Night In the Pines. The film, which was co-written and directed by Drew Goddard in 2009 and released in 2012, tells of a group of young people who escape to a secluded cabin in the woods. However, once they get there, they realize the cabin has been rigged up, horror movie style, by a nefarious organization.
Gallagher claims this story directly mirrors the one of his 2006 novel. Furthermore, he states many of the film's main characters also share similarities with the characters within his book. For example, his book features characters named Julie and Dura, while the film includes similar characters named Jules and Dana. The lawsuit also claims scenes were stolen, in particular, it cites one in which the characters search through a mysterious basement, and another where they find the hidden cameras that have been rigged throughout the cabin.
Gallagher claims he sold his novel on the Venice Beach boardwalk and Santa Monica Street Promenade, the latter of which is only a short distance from Whedon and Goddard's office - suggesting this is where they could have come across the book. He also claims he was approached by several movie producers who were interested in the book, but never explicitly mentioned Whedon or his production company, Mutant Enemy, in relation to this. All told, Gallagher is suing for damages in the range of $10 million.
Now, let's just take a moment here to fully explain what The Cabin In The Woods is actually about. As I'm sure you know, the horror-comedy essentially parodies all the classic horror clichés and repetitive narrative elements that are rife in the genre. With this in mind, it's not surprising that The Cabin In The Woods' characters and situations are similar to other horror films and novels, primarily because they are archetypes of the entire horror genre. So perhaps all this lawsuit will prove is that Gallagher wrote a very cliché and repetitive horror novel?