Monday, August 7, 2023

Head Tilt Horror


How do you know when a film is made for pennies? There are plenty of telltale signs, but my favorite is figuring out just how drunk (or dead) you'd be if your opening credits drinking game involved taking a shot whenever the director's last name showed up.

CTRL+F'ing the IMDB page gives me at least 10, which is an automatic signal to grade The Girl In Cabin 13 on a gentle curve. 

Quick Plot: Sunny is the lead in a horror film so therefore, her job is "influencer." I've spoken a lot recently about how that's perfectly okay: it's an "of-the-moment" character type, and one that often justifies plot contrivances (and an actor's perfect makeup in a situation that would otherwise never call for it). Of course, it helps if a movie actually knows what that means.

In Sunny's case, tens of thousands of Instagram accounts follow her as she posts bland pictures of pasta and dull updates about hiking. Fans, apparently, love this stuff.

So much so that one night, a masked intruder comes to the home she shares with boyfriend Brad. Though he's gone before the authorities arrive, the dispatched cop suggests they get away for a few days. Before you can remind our influencer lead that the reason she's on vacation is to NOT be easily found, the couple drives 150 miles away to a secluded(ish) cabin in the woods (presumably #13, though it never comes up leaving me thinking this was a Roger Corman-ish situation where the title came first). Before they're even unpacked, Sunny posts a selfie reel right in front of her new location.

These people are not very smart. 

The chatty caretaker gives us the full lowdown on just how far you have to go to find a phone signal, as well as the helpful fact that the cabin was built by a doomsday prepper to withstand the apocalypse. Somehow, that doesn't protect Brad and Sunny when that very evening, THREE masked strangers show up outside.

Horror evolves, as does the morality it tries (often without realizing) to preach. In the '50s, monster movies told us to distrust science. Thanks to the accidental blueprint of Halloween, '80s slashers went down the Reagan rabbit hole of chastity and taught us that premarital sex was punishable by a machete. Early aughts torture porn dissuaded us from international travel and now, the found footage cycle has evolved into social media horror glut of the new roaring '20s that warns us to disconnect. 

Directed (and co-written, produced, edited, sound designed, drone piloted, probably catered) by Brendan Rudnicki, The Girl In Cabin 13 is pretty aware of what it can and can't achieve with its limited resources. The action stays between the house and woods, and our masked trio is fairly effectively kept as a silent force.

This is not to say that The Girl In Cabin 13 is good or scary, but more that it's somewhat intelligent about the tools it has (and doesn't). That can be respected...if not necessarily enjoyed. 

High Points
Their characters are undeniable idiots, but leads Chloe Marie Rhoades and Stuart Maxheimer manage to stay somewhat likable even when, seriously, having to play a pair of extremely stupid people

Low Points
I fully understand that at times, horror movie characters have to make bad decisions in order to move their plight along but my GOODNESS: these are two very, very dumb people, and while the actors do their best, it's very hard to want them to survive when their brains don't particularly seem to deserve the chance

Lessons Learned

911 GPS is so advanced that it can tell your exact location, right down to the hall closet

Bears can't break through bulletproof windows

Gasoline is not nearly as flammable as you might think


The Girl In Cabin 13 isn't much of anything. If you really like mild home invasion horror where masked killers show their intentions by tilting their heads, it's on Amazon Prime for the taking.  

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