When you realize that the script you are writing is shit, what do you do? You do what Todd and Bruce do! Go to an artist's retreat to refuel, get inspiration and be free from the worries of your otherwise non-existing economy. Meeting other artists of varied sorts doesn't help them much, but they do enjoy themselves with the ladies. It's not until people are being killed off one by one that they start to find inspiration for their horror script.
The title might have you question the sincerity of this project - and I don't say that to be a jerk, but it did come off as an odd choice. Until I watched the movie. "The Cabining" is not exactly a parody, but a very observational horror comedy that takes a few spins on the genre, but also intentionally falls into certain clichés. We've seen a few of them and perhaps "Tucker and Dale vs. Evil" is the most entertaining of the recent ones - and that might also be the one that "The Cabining" reminds me the most of in characteristics and the overall feel.
Todd and Bruce are working on a slasher movie script. They're getting help from a class but they keep getting such harsh comments that it's hard to find inspiration. When they finally submit the script to the producer - Todd's uncle - he reacts the same way. It's a shitty script. And they have two weeks to hand in a good script or he will give the money to another nephew for his music project. It's time for Todd and Bruce to truly get invested in their script and not churn out another horrible by-the-numbers slasher. Bruce suggests they go to Shangri-La, a retreat for artists out in the woods. Surely they will be able to find all the peace and inspiration right there, in the midst of all the creativity? Yes, sort of. They find girls first and foremost. But after one of the girls there is found dead outside of the house, and she is just the first of many, they finally have something that might inspire them. "Write about what you know", as they say, and here they are in the middle of a slasher movie.
To call "The Cabining" a slasher movie is simplifying it because the slasher aspect is definitely just something to drive the plot forward. It could just as well have gone the route of "Tucker and Dale vs. Evil" where no one is actually killing anyone, and still have the main plot intact. It's not that the slasher aspects is useless or pointless, but it just happens to be the chosen tool in this particular project. The movie rarely gets boring because I easily get invested in movies about filmmaking of almost any kind. It might not be strictly about that, but it keeps reminding you. And the fact that it is about screenwriting also makes the many clichés feel less like a problem. Unfortunately the movie doesn't have a strong ending, it ends up feeling rushed and pushing much of the progress aside just to "get it done". This is unfortunate because I had quite a good time with the rest of the movie.
I really enjoyed the movie. The comedy doesn't keep up with some of the best horror comedies, but it's fun and it really needed the comedy to work. The chemistry between Todd (played by one of the Kopera brothers, Mike) and Bruce (played by Bo Keister) is great, and the girls they fall for aren't just added for distraction. Especially not Mindy, as she's a character actually helping to push the plot forward. Angela Relucio also manages to make her equally intelligent as sweet. But for me the stars here are Mike Kopera and Bo Keister, they're the typical comedy duo but they work well together.
"The Cabining" is so much better than some other independent horror comedies, but it's not one that will be competing with the greats. That's okay though, because we just need to be entertained for a while and "The Cabining" does exactly that. It doesn't stray too far away from familiar territory, and when it does it's not really a problem because it's having fun with it. The main cast has good chemistry and that's the glue. It's not a slasher movie like "Friday the 13th" or "Halloween", but it also makes sure to show its awareness of the genre. Had it not been for what felt like a really rushed ending, I would've enjoyed the movie even more. If you do enjoy horror comedies in general then make sure to catch this one!