I’ve seen enough horror films to know what works and what doesn’t. There’s a fine line to walk between keeping the genre’s tropes and cliches and filmmakers have to work very hard to keep things feeling fresh. Writer/director/star Matt Thompson manages to achieve this with The Cabin (aka Bloodlines), a film that succeeds in ticking all the right boxes for a ‘cabin in the woods’ horror but it adds enough new elements to make it stand-out from the crowd.
Thompson’s film follows the usual template that follows a group of young people who go for a weekend break in the wilderness, where ugly things happen. However, it’s interesting that he has himself playing a soon-to-be ordained man of the cloth as the central character. This adds a nice crisis of faith spin to things, while also touching on Native American mysticism. Sure, these were touched on in The Exorcist and Poltergeist, but have been neglected in recent times for found footage scares. It’s a nice touch and it shows that Thompson is interested in crafting a good story, rather than knocking out a cheap horror movie. The Cabin does have some good character development moments in the opening act that helps give it an emotional pay-off when our characters get into the woods. Things are played straight, with no knowing winks to the audience and Thompson keeps the tone on an even keel, even when events verge on the implausible. Movies like this need a certain amount of contrivance to keep the plot moving and certain elements can be overlooked so that we can get to the scares.
Thompson keeps things looking good on a visual level, giving The Cabin a decent look. It doesn’t have biggest budget but he makes cinematographer John Jimenez work for his salary. The score by Justin Durban also helps things adding enough tension to keep things feel eerie. There’s also a nice little bit of CGI work that works well within Thompson’s limited budget.
The Cabin holds its own in the horror genre, delivering scares and a good story. Good performances and impressive technical credits make this worth your time.