The Movie Waffler New Release Review (DVD/VOD) - THE CABIN | The Movie Waffler

New Release Review (DVD/VOD) - THE CABIN

the cabin movie review
A bickering couple fall foul of a masked psychopath.

Review by Sue Finn

Directed by: Johan Bodell

Starring: Christopher Lee Page, Caitlin Crommett, Erik Kammerland, Thomas Hedengran

the cabin movie poster

Cabins are a favourite of the horror genre –  they’re the setting of many a bloody end for many a nubile teenager, the setting for an enraged Ash to confront demons, and the setting for backwoods mutants to lay in wait for city folk taking a Wrong Turn.

So it comes as no surprise that The Cabin is set in, you guessed it, a cabin. The difference here is that the setting for the ‘horror’ if you will, is the farmhouse across the lake from said cabin.

And that’s not the only diversion from the usual script.

We open on a farmer, settling down to watch a black and white zombie movie while, unbeknownst to him, an intruder in a hag mask breaks into his home and skulks about behind him. After a sound alerts him to danger, he wanders outside to do the typical "Anybody there?"

Don't these people have even a passing acquaintance with horrors and realise that's a death warrant?

Of course it's a red-herring cat (I say again, don't these people watch horrors?). Clearly he's learnt nothing from that zombie movie.

He goes upstairs to play his ‘Phantom of the Opera’ organ (yes really) and is accosted by the masked hag.

the cabin movie review

After some old school credits and a suitably foreboding soundtrack by Matt Donner, we get to the next day's action.

A couple (Rose and Harry) driving their way through the countryside are bickering viciously in the car; they obviously know how to push each others buttons and do so with abandon. Their relationship is clearly on the skids and they hope a break from the rat race will revitalise it.

Of course their destination is the titular cabin. They arrive at the farmhouse only to meet a hostile young man, Sven, who has no desire to assist them in their cabin quest and all but chases them off his land.

Using a rowboat, they cross the lake to the cabin, where the bickering escalates to verbal abuse and then physical abuse. Rose is insufferably nasty and it's difficult to understand why such an apathetic Harry would be willing to try and make it work with her.

There’s an effective scene here where the interplay between their arguing and the captured farmer being tortured to death in the home across from theirs is nicely realised; though the blood splatter is on the edge of being too much and so risks being almost laughable in a scene that should be straight out disturbing.

the cabin movie review

Deciding to cancel the weekend trip, Rose and Harry return to the farmhouse only to find that their car is missing and they are trapped.

Sven again refuses any help ("you could be murders for all I know") and so its back to the cabin for the dysfunctional couple.

Here the script allows for a remarkably honest conversation on the rowboat in the middle of the lake, that feeling of a curdling love between them palpable for the viewer.

Upon their return they reach a sort of understanding, and after a night of passion they are awoken by Sven attempting to rid himself of these pesky neighbours.

When morning breaks, cat and mouse shenanigans ensue.

This Swedish slasher is director Johan Bodell’s debut, but you wouldn’t think it. The direction is assured and skilful with some shots just stunning. His use of colour and sound is quite masterful and certainly surpasses expectations.

the cabin movie review

As this is basically a three-hander, casting is essential and luckily all the cast members are above average in their roles. I particularly enjoyed how young and boyish the sadistic killer is. Good-looking and freckle faced, actor Erik Kammerland (who also wrote the script) is someone I would expect to be cast as the romantic lead, not a psychopath. The lack of backstory and motivation for him works for me also – I often find that in a slasher that just clutters the narrative.

Christopher Lee Page as Harry and Caitlin Crommet as Rose are both believable in their roles, but unfortunately Rose’s character is not well defined and just an aggressive embodiment of spite. We never know why she is so resentful of Harry and even after the reconciliation she seems constantly annoyed by his very presence and continues to be sullen and monosyllabic.

Other concerns are that they are continually separating for no good reason but to serve the plot; there seems to be other houses next to the one belonging to the murderer so I'm unsure why they never explore those to see if there is anything they can use to get away. Or why not use the boat and steer it right down the river where you would think they are bound to find civilisation eventually?

However, putting these rather decent plot issues aside, this is a fun ride, a nice twist on the usual by showing restraint in the violence and introducing us to the pleasant-looking killer from the beginning, and taking the time to at least know the victims before they are in put in danger.

It doesn’t overstay its welcome, has some gorgeous cinematography and the opening at least affords us a chill or two.

I will keep a watch out for director Bodell’s next movie; if nothing else, it will be beautiful.

The Cabin is on DVD/VOD now.

2018 movie reviews