A young married couple honeymoon in a remote cabin in the woods. The film promises smoldering tension, instead we get a smoldering pile of garbage.
Leigh Janiak’s directorial debut is not the worst movie you could spend a night watching. That is the closest I can give to a positive review. Our young couple, Bea and Paul are believably in love, but that is part of the problem. So much of this film is based on how we communicate with each other and what happens when communication starts to break down. Bea and Paul don’t communicate well—sure, they are happy, but their childish, jokey, and altogether annoying interactions don’t allow us to see the strangeness in the film until much later than planned.
For example, the couple meets an old boyfriend of Bea’s at a restaurant named Will. It becomes painfully obvious that Will is acting abusive toward his wife, and they leave. Later, Bea and Paul discuss it briefly, then they have sex. How bizarre is that? Is that a normal reaction when discussing an abused victim? The abnormality in the way the two talk creates frustration more than tension.
After Bea is obviously assaulted in the woods, Paul still pressures her for sexual intercourse. His concerns for her well-being are directly tied to her ability to be a vessel for physical pleasure. As Bea begins to lose her identity, he still pressures and bullies her instead of trying to have a conversation. The complete lack of communication between the two make the tension minimal.
The climax of the film creates an interesting environment combining tension, symbolic and literal sexual violence, and memory, but it comes too late. We don’t know enough about the characters to be truly invested in this moment, or any moment within the film.
An interesting setting and some fun twists on the genre are overshadowed by a weak plot. The film suffers from being more boring than compelling. The characters are more obnoxious than endearing. The setting is wasted. It is like they forget they had this excellent setting and shoveled in a few scenes of nature in editing. If you are desperate for a cabin-in-the-woods genre horror film, this might satisfy you. Otherwise, most fans will want to tune out. 4/10