I wish there were a way to have films with descriptions that begin “A group of friends heads to a cabin in the woods…” on streaming services automatically deposited into my watchlist. In this case, the cabin films got me a mixture of werewolves, infected, demons, and a slasher.
THE SHATTERING (2015)
Initially, The Shattering feels like it has a whole lot of potential. A group of friends is driving to a meet a healer that is supposed to have a cure for their friend’s cancer.
When their car breaks down, something attacks, they run for it, and someone starts shooting at them as well.
They take cover in a cabin in the woods. They find diaries and videos that offer revealing information about werewolves and the healing power of wolf saliva, plus they fight among themselves.
We also learn that when a female finds out her man is cheating on her, it doesn’t matter that there are werewolves and sharpshooters outside. She’ll take the risk and run out of the cabin just to get as far away from him as possible.
This werewolf film runs only 75 minutes long, but feels longer. That’s because, well, although this is a major spoiler, it’s one you’ll want to hear – you never see a werewolf. What I’m saying is, this movie is all words, no wolf.
FROM BENEATH (2012)
This is a film about a couple trapped at the girlfriend’s family lake house as some sort of leech virus starts to severely affect the boyfriend.
He begins to suffer from disturbing hallucinations as he slowly becomes “infected.”
The intro scene is dark and foreboding, and the general setup of the couple’s predicament is ominous, but dialogue and plot become repetitive for a majority of the film and get bogged down by a sleep-inducing piano score, despite the film having some generally great horror atmosphere.
Just when the suspense at last kicks in for the climax – a repeat of the scenario from the intro scene – the horror is accompanied by an instrumental imitation of Bauhaus’s “Bela Lugosi’s Dead” that drones on and on just as much as the 10-minute goth rock classic.
While the acting in indie horror isn’t often make or break, in the case of From Beneath, it really matters.
While the acting in indie horror isn’t often make or break, in the case of From Beneath, it really matters. There’s simply a level of intensity needed for the circumstances and the clash between the protagonists that isn’t reached here. These characters experience some gnarly, horrific, and devastating shit…the actors, not quite as much.
NEVER OPEN THE DOOR (2014)
I almost want to go against everything I stand for to say that I wish this film from Bloody Bloody Bible Camp director Vito Trabucco ran about ten minutes longer. Never Open the Door is only 64 minutes long, so just when the horror really had me going, the big Twilight Zone-esque twist hit and it was over! But hey, I know if those extra ten minutes were there, I’d probably be like, “if only it had been edited down by ten minutes.”
The nod to Evil Dead is undeniable from the very start as shaky cam comes upon a house in the woods where a group of friends is celebrating what sounds and looks like Thanksgiving dinner (Turkey, cranberries, etc.). The film is shot in black and white, so it also captures the spirit of the edgier horror of the 1960s.
The good thing about the short length is that we get just the right serving size of character development before moving on to dessert – a knock on the door.
A bleeding man stumbles inside spewing blood. Uh-oh. Is Cabin Fever on the menu, too?
Not quite. There’s still demonic indulgence to come, but most of it is teased until closer to the end of the film.
The chaos that erupts because these friends opened the door involves them turning against each other as they try to locate the mysterious force they’ve invited inside.
While it does leave some unanswered questions and not as much demon camera time as I would have liked (because what we get is quite effective), Never Open the Door is creepy, funny, and fast-paced, making it a good way to squeeze in an extra hour of horror during a marathon. I’ll definitely be adding this one to my film collection.
CABIN FEAR (aka: Seclusion) (2015)
So glad the title of this one was changed. Seclusion sounds way too serious and drab, because Cabin Fear is a blast and took me right back to the days of good old 80s slashers.
It’s all very simply. A guy and girl are getting married so they head to a cabin in the woods with their friends to celebrate.
In between having sex, fighting, and listening to stories from the weird old caretaker, the friends get killed off by an unseen psycho with various sharp weapons.
Classic kills and body reveals galore offer up that old school slasher vibe.
Cabin Fear also delivers the perfect blend of fun and funny, thanks to a likable cast that has a good time and a good grasp of comedy, including director Joe Bandelli, the dude with an arrow in his dick above. Personally, I think he should have kept himself alive a bit longer, because he was giving me a good giggle.
Plus, the guy who gets the big sex scene is the guy who should get the big sex scene. Yummy. And I’m not talking about the cake (but I am talking about the cakes).
And finally, the main girl’s battle to the death with the killer kicks ass. Cabin Fear is definitely another one I’ll be adding to my movie collection.