From the outset, there’s little consideration shown in Matt Thompson’s The Cabin. The film begins with the death of a native at the hands of some husky looking 17th century all-American bozos, then a tribe place a curse on the lands to get rid of the brutes, then a guy gets possessed and there’s a pretty cool practical effect of a head getting blown off, and after that the film gets worse and worse. A group of youngsters (led by Thompson himself who stars as Brett) unknowingly make their way to the site of this disaster to get hunted down by a force that possesses them one at a time and can flit between bodies whenever it needs.
Weirdly, The Cabin is one of the most pretentious films I’ve ever seen, swapping actual heart and depth of character/story with hollow, meaningless character interactions covered with overwrought acting and sound-tracking. The orchestral score appears leaps ahead of the rest of the film in terms of legitimacy but unfortunately only highlights the cracks in the feature. The fine music over bad acting and poor direction ends up looking like a mediocre YouTube piss-take of horror films.
Thompson himself plays the film’s lead character pretty well, doing better with acting than he does with direction. The film’s key problem is that it feels unanchored, there’s nobody watching the dalies and saying ‘this looks weird’, nobody reshooting the dodgy interactions or pointing the unfathomable plot sequence in one direction. For instance, at the twelve minute mark we are introduced to Brett’s hapless pals in a Goonies-style scene that unveils a suspect map. This scene enthusiastically brandishes the tonal misgivings of the feature, attempting to find a happy medium between foreboding, creepy, and humorous across a platter of shit friends, dull acting, and awful dialogue.
There are moments that aren’t that bad but everything feels too rushed to let you actually settle into the film’s flow. There’s some cool deaths but they are followed by weird chases or dialogue, basically if you find a scene or sequence that’s working for you, give it a minute and everything’s back in the air. This erratic flow, often the product of dodgy editing, provides a story where the complicated bits are just cut out, the difficult tension-building scenes milked in other films are just skimmed over here to make the load a little lighter, and that’s plain laziness. Also, if you take Whedon’s Cabin in the Woods and compare it to this you’ll find a worrying frame for frame parallel that shows someone’s been far too influenced by a much smarter feature. Why? I can’t really say, its not like this film fits the Cabin structure or has anything to say about that film’s commentary, it just feels like someone is up for playing the imitation game.
If you really want to see something that blends ‘possession and revenge’, as the cover of the DVD proudly states, check out Michael S. Ojeda’s Savaged. Otherwise, dodge this messy feature.
Dir. Matt Thompson
Stars. Kimberly Alexander, Jesse Kristofferson, Gina Comparetto, Christopher Frontiero, Zahn McClarnon, Michael Acosta