In the tense home invasion-style horror “The Cabin”, a young couple’s getaway becomes a nightmare when they cross paths with a psychopathic killer.
When you’re working in a genre such as horror, you can have barely anything and still manage to make an impressive show for it. The Cabin is an exercise in exactly how minimal some aspects can be, but on the flip side, just how much you can still pay attention to the little details in order to make your film look good.
Filmed with a tiny cast and crew, with the writer of the film (Erik Kammerland) also starring as the main antagonist, it’s easy to be impressed with the minimalism inherent in The Cabin. There’s barely four characters in the entire film, yet it doesn’t feel devoid of substance.
In the beginning of the film, we watch as an isolated man, “The Farmer” he’s credited as, is hunted by a man in a mask. The spooky mask looks a little bit like Tobin Bell of the Saw series.
It’s an introductory hunt, welcoming us to the horror film, and soon enough the victim has been taken by the masked killer.
Meanwhile, boyfriend and girlfriend Rose (Caitlin Crommett) and Harry (Christopher Lee Page) are on a drive out to Harry’s cabin in the country. It’s an idea we’ve all seen before, heading out to the middle of nowhere where there will be no cell phone service — nor will there be anyone around to help them when things inevitably go wrong.
Punching up their vacation is the fact they are currently in the midst of a big fight, and things are getting both physically and verbally close to abuse.
Finally making their way to the right place, Harry and Rose unexpectedly find a home where the mysterious “Stranger” lives. In the film credits he’s called “The Stranger” anyways; on IMDb he is called “Sven”. Sven doesn’t volunteer the couple any help, letting no one in the house.
Harry and Rose have to take a row boat across a small lake to their cabin, putting a literal distance between them and everyone else, and isolating them in their would-be vacation home, with a killer on the loose.
The cinematography, lighting, and style in The Cabin were all solid.
THE CABIN was surprisingly refined looking, given its approach. The opening shots showed us crisp scenes of pristine wilderness, and later Harry and Rose hide in a foggy forest at night. It’s a marvel to watch this film. The filmmakers were also innovative with their use of inter-cutting to add tension. It wouldn’t be complete without an eerie score, and the one here is pretty good as well, setting the tone for the creepy happenings.
Rather than leaning on heavy gore or overt scares, this is a tense thriller that relies on strong performances from its cast and the direction of Johan Bodell to build and maintain effective tension throughout the film.
It’s a straight horror. There are not many jump scares, nor is there a lot of explanation as to the what or why of anything. Rather than giving its villain a real motivation for killing or a backstory that explains the rationale for his bloodlust, it seems the terror he causes is random and pointless — reminiscent of the chilling “because you were home” line in The Strangers.
The Cabin gets right to the horror from the very first frame of the film, and it stays there throughout. The improvisation and the acting by “The Stranger” or “Sven” is pretty good. In the end, I think The Cabin is a serviceable late night flick to put on and have a fun time with.