As my love of the medium of film has grown, I’ve come to learn a thing or two. One of them being the films that are visually appealing are usually the more lesser known films. There are plenty of exceptions to that rule. I’m merely talking about my own experiences with cinema. I find that more independent or lower budget films can often times have a more lasting impression due to their visual presentation. That in mind, horror is probably not a genre that you would typically associate that with. Last year’s Mandy is the obvious exception. Mostly horror films have a rougher, sometimes gritter visual aesthetic to them. The Cabin from director Johan Bodell is anything but the latter.
The Cabin tells the story of Rose & Harry. A couple, who are, coming back to the location from Harry’s childhood; his parent’s cabin. It is here the two befall some terrible circumstances brought forth by, writer and actor, Erik Kammerland’s Sven. Sven is introduced within the first few frames of the film and serves as the antagonist that just digs deep within the bowels of your soul and doesn’t let go for anything. Kammerland in every sense of the phrase steals the show. He is electrifying within the perimeters of the character. Daring to go to some truly bizarre places to showcase just how lose this character is. After all, isn’t fear of the unknown a terrifying? There are scenes littered throughout the course of the film where Kammerland doesn’t have to say anything; his facial expressions and delivery speak volumes about his psychiatric nature.
As for the former, the cinematography of the film, may in fact give Kammerland’s Sven a run for his money for star of the show. Director Bodell and cinematographer Charles Doan crafts a visual experience for viewers which pays homage to 1974’s The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and 2017’s Get Out. The stunning visual nature of the film explores the vast yet desolate nature of the film’s setting. When it’s married with the score from composer, Matt Donner, the visual nature of the film comes alive. With that life, Bodell and company craft a cinematic experience worthy of its’ terror and horror roots.
While the visual and composition of the film are beautiful and a strong antagonist in Erik Kammerland’s Sven. You don’t honestly get it from the film’s two leads – Christopher Lee Page’s Harry & Caitlin Crommet’s Rose. Cabin spends the majority of its’ screen time showcasing a subplot of a couple on the rocks, who in the end somehow love each other again. Confusing, I know. The weird and unnecessary on-again-off-again relationship of Harry & Rose crafts a weird dismay for the film. When the characters spend 85% of the time hating one another, it seems pointless to establish another emotion for them so late within the film. A pointless growth and lack of chemistry between the actors make this one of the hardest elements of the film to swallow.
Overall, The Cabin¸ is a visual masterpiece. Thanks in part to cinematography by Charles Doan and director Johan Bodell. When married together with a score from Matt Donner, the film soars to new and beautiful heights. With Erik Kammerland establishing a strong performance as the film’s antagonist, the film could have also been a cinematic masterpiece. However, it does experience some missteps in the plot with the film’s leads. Aiming to establish unnecessary drama and lack of chemistry only makes it worse. The Cabin is a place I’d like to visit again but would never consider permanent residence.
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