The Cabin: A film heavy on atmosphere but thin on plot

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Erik Krammerland as the Stranger in The Cabin (2018) – Credit to KW Studios and Coastal ART Productions

This is a problem because this movie only has three central characters. Rose, Harry, and a mysterious stranger who turns out to be a violent sociopath.

Given the plot of the film is extra light, it depends on the ability of Page and Crommett to carry the film. While both are adequate performers, the script does them no favors. The bulk of the film is them arguing over whether or not they should stay at the cabin or leave, and this begins mere moments after their arrival.

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After leaving the gas station, there is also a strange moment where Harry begins drinking alcohol while driving. Rose reacts in understandable anger and forces him to let her drive, but this moment is never mentioned again.

I would be seriously worried if my significant other started drinking while driving with me in the car and treated it like a normal decision. I suppose he could have a drinking problem, hence their relationship issues, but it is never discussed again.

Typically, with a film as reserved and small in cast as this one, it would become a character-driven story. Lacking in plot would be made up for in substantial character work and development, or, given this is a horror film, at least a pulse-pounding, breakneck paced film with focus on the action. Unfortunately, The Cabin fails to do either of those things.

A bulk of the reason for that, falls on the script. The dialogue is watery at best, repetitive at worst, and offers us no insight into Rose or Harry as people. Its certainly not into the nature of their relationship apart from, it’s a bad one.

It should say something when the best moments of the film come from those where there is no dialogue. These carefully crafted sequences in which the direction and musical score take over offer more intuition than any spoken word in the entirety of the film.

Once they reach their destination, it becomes clear they’re going to have to contend with the man (Erik Krammerland, credited as “The Stranger”) near the farmhouse property. They’ll need to borrow a boat from him, or the one on the property anyways, to get to the cabin across the lake.

This is the man we saw, though he was masked at the time, murder the farmhouse owner (I’m guessing here, as we don’t have any real confirmation who the first victim was) in the opening minutes of the film.

Krammerland is dead-eyed and sinister as he skulks around, reluctant to help our naive couple who don’t appear very apprehensive despite his prickly demeanor. He serves as a decent enough villain, but he doesn’t actually become a real threat to them until we’re almost into the final thirty minutes of its 80-minute running time. It’s a shame, because The Cabin works much better when it focuses on the horror elements and less on the melodramatic ones.

The “stranger” really doesn’t have much to work with. He has no motive to speak of, which is ironic since the actor, Krammerland, wrote the script.

Though, as we learned from The Strangers franchise, there doesn’t have to be a motive, but his seemingly spur of the moment decision to stalk and attack Harry and Rose doesn’t fly much either since he made no prior threat to them before the sudden climax.

The Cabin feels like two distinctly different films spliced together. One is an isolated romantic drama about a couple desperately trying to rekindle the spark in their relationship, and the other is a claustrophobic, genuinely tense, thriller.

The official synopsis talks about a dangerous “cat-and-mouse game” but the truth is, due to the disjointed pacing, this only occurs during the final few moments of the movie. There is a hide-and-seek chase sequence involving several bays of hay in a makeshift maze that makes for a nail-biting scene, and demonstrates the compelling film this could have been, but it comes much too little too late.

In the threatening words of one of the film’s characters, “Life, things happen. Good and bad things.” I’ll let you decide which of those you think this film should be labeled as.

The Cabin will be available on VOD and DVD starting Dec. 4, distributed by High Octane Pictures.

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Will you watch The Cabin? What are some of your favorite “cabin in the woods” horror movies? Let us know in the comments!