Here’s yet another very nice DVD box with a card slipcase and some fine artwork (well done whoever’s responsible - it’s really nice work). You’ll notice the blurb at the top says that THE CABIN is "CABIN IN THE WOODS meets INSIDIOUS". That’s a bold claim for any film to make and so I hope it won’t surprise too many reading this review that THE CABIN (aka BLOODLINE in other territories) isn’t quite the action-packed top quality scarefest that less experienced horror film viewers might take it to be.
It is, however, quite professionally made, which is always something of a relief to discover with these low-budget unknowns. It even has a rather ambitious prologue. In 1779 a group of American settlers end up cursed by the local native Americans’ shaman for killing one of their kind. There’s even authentic-sounding local language with subtitles, some good special effects, and a promise that this is going to turn into a cracking EVIL DEAD-style possession romp in the woods.
Then the film proper starts.
Brett Ethos (Matt Thompson, who also writes and directs and therefore has to shoulder the blame for this one) is about to be ordained into the Catholic Church but decides to have one last trip of mayhem and debauchery at his isolated cabin in the woods - the one his friends have just helped him discover the location of by breaking a picture frame and finding a map and the keys hidden in the back of it.
A couple of girls added to the car later (including Brett’s ex-girlfriend) and we’re off into the woods. So far so good. It’s when they get to the cabin that everything slows right down and nothing really happens for far too long. Exploitation staples like shock, gore, nudity and suspense are sacrificed to allow earnest conversations about relationships and lots of shots of Thompson looking moody. The first couple of deaths occur offscreen, but rather than engendering what one presumes the film-makers hoped would be an atmosphere of subtle suspense, the viewer is left wondering why we couldn’t get to see them.
Things do pick up, with members of Brett’s party being picked off by the thing that’s after him because of his settler heritage. There are some nice optical effects, and there’s an attempt at a stinger of an ending, but overall it never feels as if anyone’s heart is really in any of this. It’s a shame because, as I said, the film is very competently made, but it lacks the sense of urgency, the sense of menace and, dare I say it, the style to make it an enjoyable piece of backwoods menace. There are a couple of nice ideas here, but if you’re familiar with CABIN IN THE WOODS and INSIDIOUS you’ll still be better off watching either of those again instead of this. 101 Films presents THE CABIN in its original aspect ratio of 2.35:1. It’s a nice transfer and there are no extras.
101 Films released THE CABIN on Region 2 DVD on 11th August 2014