Blood Cabin (2011)

Blood Cabin is a wonderfully retro but horrifically flawed homage of a slasher flick. A great concept, some excellent moments, but overall a ramshackle, unlikable mess that is ailed with the worst possible film infection of all time: boredom.

The story is ageless: five teenagers are heading to a rented woodside cabin for a weekend of sex, drink and drugs. Sadly their fun is somewhat ruined by a psychopath who gets his kicks out of brutally murdering young imbeciles… and the young hedonists find themselves fighting for survival against a seriously deranged foe.

This plot may sound familiar, but it’s supposed to. Known elsewhere (and on IMDB) as Murder Loves Killers Too, this retro-throwback perfectly recreates the bonkers and bloody slasher flicks of the 70’s and 80’s. But too perfectly. Rather than emulating the great likes of Friday the 13th, it instead encapsulates such classics as Mountaintop Motel Massacre… with all their multitude of flaws.

It begins with a twee, storytelling voiceover that perfectly sets the movie’s tone – it is a bit silly, with a promise of sex and violence – and it’s a great opening. In fact, the first 30 minutes really impress, emulating the slasher flicks of the 70′s and 80′s with a constantly moving camera, some hilariously cheesy music and pointless dialogue that seems entirely improvised. It is a quality homage… or I presume it is. Otherwise writer / director Drew Barnhardt must’ve been in a coma for 30 years and suddenly woken up in front of a camera.

The cracks appear after thirty minutes, however, when our antagonist has captured some of our teenage fools and the gleeful score is replaced by one of attempted tension. Then the killing begins, and it’s predictably gory stuff but wholly uninventive; drill in the guts, hook in the back, knife in the gob – it is so clichéd it’s irritating. The gore is sometimes decent but occasionally it looks ridiculous and tragically it mostly fails to convince.

Our evil antagonist is Big Stevie (Allen Andrews), an overweight, balding, 40-something man who casually murders without rage or any discernable motive. He is a genuinely disconcerting killer as he occasionally dresses up in a party hat or will suddenly decided to play under the bedsheets with a torch. It’s wonderfully odd.

Once Stevie has dispatched the majority of the pointless cast, it is up to “the smart one” Aggie (Christine Haeberman) to escape the cabin and get back to civilization. This is the mid-point of the movie, and when it becomes almost excruciatingly dull. The cat and mouse game between them both feels more like slug and snail chase, and I found myself pleading for something interesting to happen…

… and then, out of nowhere, the last fifteen minutes of the film deliver an explosive wake-up call. It is hard to justify swimming through the maddening boredom to get to the finale / epilogue, but the ending is simply inspired. It’s utterly unexpected and brilliantly done. I clearly can’t reveal it here, but it’s quite inspired.

Allen Andrews is perhaps the best actor in the film, and he plays the psychotic Stevie with a quiet dementia that helps to propel the movie along. He excels in his role and you genuinely believe him. The other actors also play their parts well, but they’re almost deliberately nothing roles, simply existing to take drugs, swear, get naked, shag on a pool table and be generally laughably trite stereotypes.

Big Stevie’s having a party and you’re invited. Don’t go. It may be occasionally well realized, the ending is awesome and Allen Andrews is superb… but it’s also utterly idiotic, cripplingly dull and the gore isn’t even that great. Blood Cabin is a mess.

Rating: ★★★★☆☆☆☆☆☆

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