A Santa Monica writer has filed a lawsuit against Joss Whedon, Drew Goddard, and Lionsgate Films, claiming that they stole the idea for The Cabin In The Woods from his own self-published novel. Author Peter Gallagher has alleged that Whedon and company’s 2012 horror satire shares several key similarities to his 2006 novel The Little White Trip: A Night In The Pines, in which a group of five young people is manipulated into a horror movie scenario by outside forces. Gallagher’s legal complaint, available in full here, draws several other parallels between the book and the movie, including similar character names and personality types and scenes in which both sets of characters “begin to drink alcohol and to play games.” (The complaint also states, somewhat apropos of nothing, that The Little White Trip was required reading “for a period of time” at Los Angeles’ Johnnie L. Cochran Jr. Middle School.)
While it seems likely that Gallagher, Whedon, and Goddard were simply pulling from a shared pool of horror movie experiences and tropes when they crafted their individual works, the complaint does note that Gallagher sold his novel in Santa Monica, California, where Whedon has lived in the past. On the other hand, Gallagher’s novel apparently ends with the revelation that the plot’s events were part of a reality TV show, and not an apocalyptic cult determined to stop Sigourney Weaver from getting crushed by a giant troll fist, a notable departure from the film.
Neither Lionsgate nor Whedon have issued a comment on Gallagher’s claim. The author is seeking damages in excess of $10,000,000, and presumably has no plans at this time to also sue The O.C. actor Peter Gallagher for stealing his name.