UK Release Date: 16th October 2017
Runtime: 80 minutes
Director: Andrew Jones
Writer: John Klyza
Starring: Terri Dwyer, Harriet Rees, Lee Bane, Brendee Green, Sean Rhys-James, Jason Homewood, Derek Nelson, Gareth Lawrence
Synopsis: A family living in an isolated cabin are attacked by a group of masked assailants, who break into their home one night, armed with various weapons.
It’s seldom a good thing when a movie starts with a legal disclaimer. Cabin 28 opens with a message declaring that the characters within the film have been “exaggerated for dramatic effect”, despite the story being heavily based on murders that took place in California in 1981. The film seems to follow the real events fairly closely and certainly more than 2008 film The Strangers, which was allegedly partly inspired by the same crimes. Legal issues, though, are the least of the problems with this movie, which is a work of frankly staggering incompetence. It’s almost certainly the worst horror movie released this year.
Single mother Sue (Terri Dwyer) lives in the eponymous isolated home, with her large brood of kids. Among the children are eldest daughter Sheila (Brendee Green), timid teen Tina (Harriet Rees) and hard-drinking lad Johnny (Sean Rhys-James). One evening, the family is attacked by a group of thugs, who break into the home wearing terrifying masks and soon torture the various family members. The next day, a small town cop (Jason Homewood) begins to investigate what happened in the cabin overnight. Suspicion falls upon Marty (Lee Bane), whose wife is a close friend of Sue’s.
Cabin 28 is a bizarre film from the very beginning. The setting never quite feels authentic and, after a glance at the production information, that’s seemingly because this is a quintessentially American story shot entirely in Wales by Welsh director Andrew Jones. This is an artificial movie that establishes an entirely synthetic world, amplified by performances so awful that every line of the excruciating dialogue cuts through the audience like fingernails on a blackboard. When horrible things begin happening to the characters, it’s almost a blessing given that it finally shuts them up.
That basic lack of coherence extends to every aspect of Cabin 28. This is the film equivalent of watching a labradoodle try to program a satnav. The visual style is basic, the effects are visibly cheap and there’s an unintentional hilarity to the way some of the fight scenes are staged. Basic continuity errors seem rife in the more fast-paced sequences and, in one scene, Night of the Living Dead is playing on the television, only to be replaced by Plan 9 From Outer Space when the same character returns to the same TV just five minutes later.
This is a film in which no one emerges covered in glory. Even beyond the basic visual deficiencies, there are fundamental problems in the script, which is an absolute nightmare of pacing. It starts at a glacial pace in ways that are almost certainly designed to engender sympathy and character depth, but instead ensure that this is stupor-inducingly boring well before the plot actually starts to crank into gear. When the violence happens, it’s bogged down with bizarre moments of unintentional comedy and then, in the aftermath, we’re treated to a bizarre, limping coda that doesn’t even come close to resolving the story.
Given the film’s decision to go to the trouble of opening with an actual disclaimer, it’s strange that Cabin 28 cleaves so closely to the mystery and lack of resolution in the real case. The Keddie homicides remain unsolved and the film dutifully reflects that in its tedious non-ending, in which the movie just stops, rather than logically moving towards an entertaining finale. This is an example of a filmmaker stumbling upon an interesting story and converting it into a movie, without stopping to think whether that will actually work.
Nothing on the disc I had for review.
Pop or Poop?
Cabin 28 isn’t just a bad horror movie; it’s a downright incompetent one. Andrew Jones puts his pieces together in the most unimpressive way imaginable and, with a handful of dreadful performances in his back pocket, constructs a film that is almost worthy of marvel at the sheer, utter failure of it all.
Do you agree with my review? Let me know in the comments section.
Cabin 28 is available on DVD in the UK now, courtesy of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.