Sunday, February 16, 2014

Overcome Writer's Block with an Axe and a Hammer in The Cabining: A Movie Review

*full disclosure: a DVD screener of this film was provided by Lakeview Pictures.

Director: Steve Kopera.

Writers: Mike Kopera, Steve Kopera and David Silverman.

Cast: Mike Kopera, Bo Keister, Angela Relucio and Melissa Mars.

The Cabining is an indie slasher film and mystery from first time feature film director Steve Kopera. This feature brings a writing duo to an isolated creative retreat. Here, horror cliches are played upon as one writer searches for inspiration. The Cabining is a small production and occasionally a simple one, but the film offers some charm in its eighty-three minutes.

The film begins with the characters Todd (Mike Kopera) and Bruce (Bo Keister). These two are putting together a script, for an upcoming horror feature. They have two weeks to get the words on paper. So, they seek out a writing retreat called Shangri-La. At this new setting, Todd and Bruce meet some fellow writers, but bodies keep turning up and distract the writing. One character lurks around the cabin in black garb, while Todd and Bruce put together a blood-soaked script.

The Cabining, at its heart, is a slasher film. Some of the slasher elements are fictional. For instance, a late climax offers some violent action. Some of the slasher elements are part of the film's central story. Much of the gruesome arts occur off-screen, to keep the killer's identity in mystery. A little more conflict could have happened with the killer present in the gory scenes, though.

The script mentions and plays with horror cliches. Bruce and Todd's first initial script is full of all the tropes of the genre: twenty-somethings, a cabin and a machete. But, their critics are not interested. So, the cliches are called out and worked upon in the film. The scriptwriters: Mike Kopera, Steve Kopera and David Silverman, are aware of how a slasher film generally plays out. So, they add in a few misdirections in this title. Instead of a masked stalker, there are a few characters who could be the killer, while one stands out ahead of the rest. There are elements of a mystery here, too. The material here is fresh, but the film is very smallish in nature.

Indie horror features are often hampered by budgets. And, filmmakers breaking into film are often not given the tools to make an elaborate movie. This is the case here. This indie feature, like many before, uses a few strategies to minimize production costs. The Cabining is set in one primary location, with a few characters. Action sequences are non-existent. The focus here is on bringing a few gory deaths to the screen, with mystery added through the killer's anonymity. There are a couple of surprises here, but The Cabining is often hit and miss due to budgetary constraints, especially in the comedic arena.

This title is currently on a film festival run and indie fans might want to seek this one out. The Cabining tries to play off cliches, but some are still here. Also, this horror title has a cast that works well together. And, the acting improves later in the run. However, The Cabining, for this viewer, did not really offer any thrills or great laughs. This production, from an up-and-coming film crew, is above average for an indie title, but it did not come across as very memorable.

Overall: 6.5 out of 10 (interesting characters, a different approach to the slasher film, some mystery, climax is a little short).

The film's homepage is here, with a trailer:

The Cabining Official Website

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