Cabining, The (2013)
Directed by Steve Kopera
The Cabining is a curious horror-comedy that follows a pair of wannabe horror movie writers, Todd and Bruce, as they do their best to come up with a script to satisfy their financial backer while dodging a maniacal killer at a resort deep in the woods.
Todd (Kopera) is serious about completing a horror script so he can get some cash from a fickle uncle (played by veteran actor Richard Riehle). His partner, Bruce (Keister), is a slack-off looking for the easiest way to get the script written and score with the ladies at the same time. The two decide to escape to an artists' retreat deep in the woods to clear their heads and begin to finish their writing. Unfortunately, bodies mysteriously begin turning up at the Shangri-La Resort where they're staying, and from that point on insanity reigns. Seeing how both star Mike Kopera and director Steve Kopera collaborated to write the film (with David Silverman), one has to wonder if it is somewhat auto-biographical.
Playing Todd, Kopera is an excellent straight man to Keister's flamboyant Bruce. The entirety of The Cabining is a study as to how difficult it is to write an original horror story. Our two heroes clash when it comes to certain aspects of the tale until Bruce basically relinquishes his writing responsibilities to pursue a more noble goal: sex!
Overall, there's nothing really wrong with The Cabining. Especially for an indie film, the movie looks sharp and the acting is satisfactory. However, something just seems lacking. The characters are not fully developed, and it takes a really long time for the action to kick in. While we're waiting for something to happen, we're treated to some average comedic scenes. And when the bodies finally do start to pile up, the story gets a bit convoluted, culminating in a climax of the story that will probably leave many viewers feeling a bit cheated.
That being said, the film does have some redeeming qualities. Keister plays his character, Bruce, wonderfully. He basically single-handedly provides the comedy for The Cabining. Also, the practical F/X work is quite impressive, including a top-notch severed head. This film isn't bogged down by hokey digital effects. The filmmakers wisely chose to go with makeup artists to make this film pop! And it was a seriously good choice. Unfortunately there aren't a ton of scenes where a lot of practical effects are required, but when they are used they are quite good.
Kudos to The Cabining for making the effort to put together something different for horror fans to enjoy. The horror-comedy genre can be a beast to tackle, and they did a decent job with a couple of amusing characters thrown into a slasher-type situation. Unfortunately those characters could have been developed a bit better to make audiences care about their fate. Overall, it's an okay effort with some signs of potential. It'll be interesting to see what Steve and Mike Kopera come up with next.
2 1/2 out of 5