The Cabining (2014)
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Steve Kopera, David Silverman
Luce Rains, Richard Riehle, Mark Rademacher, Joseph Barone, Blake Silver, Ian Michaels, Sarah Smick, Scott Connors, Danny Mooney, Lauren Mae Shafer, Melanie Rashbaum, Bo Keister
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Writer's Block Can Be Murder
Favorite Movie Quote: "Two Weeks"
Todd (Mike Kopera) and Bruce (Bo Keister) are two aspiring writers. Well, let's clear that up right now: Todd is a struggling writer, while Bruce is a slacker, forever looking for the "next great thing." After being brutally shot down - cruelly and brutally - Todd and Bruce go back to lick their wounds and talk to "Sarge" (OFFICE SPACE's Richard Riehle), who, after spending good money funding this project, gives the duo one more chance to come up with a dynamite horror script, or he turns their funding over to Todd's brother, who has a goth band - in Wisconsin.
And he has two weeks to do it.
Writing a "cabin in the woods" horror script by going to a cabin in the woods is the ultimate cliche of the film within a film, and the sole basis of The CABINING. Bruce comes up with brilliant idea (one of, uh, one idea) to travel to this retreat for artist, which is - you guessed it - a cabin in the woods. Here they meet (Roll Call!): Mindy (Angela Relucio), the brainy nerd, Celeste (Paris import Melissa Mars, in her U.S. debut), the exotic tease, Larson (Jackson Thompson), the loner musician, Lacey (Alice Sherman), the mousy secretary, and Monroe (Mark Rademacher), their velvet-voiced host. Oh, and there's Jasper (Luce Rains), the creepy guy, who's space and etiquette issues keep him at arm's length from the rest of the group. With everyone in place, the deaths ensued, and the secret of the cabin in the woods is revealed.
The Kopera Brothers, along with writing consultant David Silverman, put together a clever send-up of this all-too-familiar scenario. To their credit, the pacing was tight; we know people will die, but how and when is all part of the fun. All runs according to form - except Keister's Bruce. Establishing himself as the invulnerable comic relief virtually from Frame One, Keister takes the arrogance of Peter Venkman, the moral center of Eric Cartman, and the libido of an entire frat house of the Sixties (you know the one), and makes Bruce one lovable, but infinitely exasperating pain in the tookus. Kopera's Todd is the beleaguered straight man, being the recipient of, or the hapless tag along to Bruce's antics. Mars and Relucio provide the romantic interests, but not rivals, and Rademacher plays gracious host to the max. Jasper - well - just watch out for Jasper, because you'll never know where or when he'll appear - or disappear. As the deaths mount, the suspect list narrows and narrows, until the real killer - or killers (that wrench thrown in for fun), will have you scratching your heads till the very end.
Now the gripes.
Though the scripting and action was tight and funny - very funny - this reviewer has issues with the soundtrack. Appropriately quiet at the proper moments, the chase scenes sounded out-of-place too loud, in contrast to the rest of the background music. And the ending very much reminded this reviewer of a Monty Python film ending, where there was an ending - or was one?
On my personal rating scale of with "5" being drop everything and see the video now; if you're female, bear the producers' children and "0" being burn down the theater, murder the staff, and violate their dog, this movie earns a "4," using my Patented Bell Curve for Independent Horror films, and taking off points for an ambiguous ending. The CABINING is a wink to the audience who has "seen it all" when it comes to the "cabin-in-the-woods" platform, so the thinking was - everyone knows what going to happen, why not have fun with it? A good script, some really good performances, and Bruce. Anything more would be extraneous.
The CABINING is unrated, but has all the goodies expected from horror: language, nudity, sex, gore, blood, violence; the kitchen sink was tragically left out, however.
The film stars Mike Kopera, Bo Keister, Angela Relucio, Melissa Mars, Luce Rains, Richard Riehle, Mark Rademacher, Chuck Saale, Joseph Barone, Jackson Thompson, Alice Sherman. Written and directed by Steve Kopera, The CABINING is currently enjoying a very successful festival run.
On final wink: take a very close look at the members of Todd and Bruce's writing group in the beginning of the film. That's all this reviewer will say.
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