Right now, free streaming platform Tubi is taking a page from the Hallmark Christmas movie machine model. On what feels like a weekly basis, Tubi is churning out one original project after another that all look vaguely similar. If Hallmark has a cookie-cutter template for its Christmas movies, Tubi seems to have one for psychological thrillers and low-concept horror movies. And when you’re releasing movies called Deadly DILF, quality isn’t likely high on the priority list. Another of Tubi’s latest originals, Cabin Girl, looks to mix bits of psychological and supernatural horror together.
A year after her parents’ death, Ava opts to leave everything behind and ‘vlog’ her adventures driving across country in a van. But #vanlife takes an unexpected turn when an accident with a deer on a remote road leaves Ava injured and her memory for that night hazy. While she recovers in a small town, the influencer finds and buys a dilapidated cabin that she hopes to fix up. Soon thereafter Ava slowly uncovers the tragic and haunting secrets hidden in the cabin’s floorboards.
Cabin Girl Has a Screenplay That May Inadvertently Make a Case for Using ChatGPT
Unpacking what makes Cabin Girl such a bad movie requires dissecting its messy story – this also means major spoilers. Two writers share credit for this thriller, which makes sense since there’s at least two movies here. The launching pad finds influencer Ava ditching her life to join the nomadic #vanlife hashtag. Yes, it’s a thing. It’s also some subtle exploitation of the real Gabby Petito tragedy. When Ava’s posts stop and her followers grow concerned, the story teases an intriguing mystery – concerned nice guy tow-truck driver Kellen finds an injured Ava on a dark road with no memory of her accident. Does it make sense that a local doctor recommends Ava stay put for a few months? No. Where does she get the money to buy even a dilapidated cabin? Who cares. Those are small problems in the mess that is Cabin Girl’s screenplay.
Two writers share credit for this thriller, which makes sense since there’s at least two movies here.
Soon after settling into #cabinlife, Ava uncovers the mystery of the cabin’s past inhabitant, a young girl, Hannah, who committed suicide. Or did she? Leslie Beaumont and Rory James Woods’ story offers hints of a scandal involving a girl who might have been a witch, her rich family, and perhaps a town secret. From this point onward, Cabin Girl throws in bits of supernatural horror. As Ava descends very quickly into paranoia, Cabin Girl even cribs lightly from The Shining. And there’s a strange older man – a seemingly obsessed fan – stalking Ava, going so far as to break into and hide in her shed. How are these two plot threads related? The short answer – they’re not.
Cabin Girl Lacks the Scares and Atmosphere to Make Up For Its Awful Storytelling
So here’s the big twist to Cabin Girl. Ava didn’t hit a deer on the roadside at the start of this insipid thriller. No, she struck and killed a young fan, Jackie, whose van had broken down. Traumatized killing someone, Ava repressed the memories. Who is the middle-aged stalker? It’s Jackie’s father who saw the entire accident as his daughter inadvertently livestreamed it to him. If he wants justice for his daughter, and he knows how to find Ava, why doesn’t he just call the police? Does ‘sort of boyfriend’ Kellen know what Ava did? After all, there was no deer on the road when he found her. In fact, what happened to Jackie? Did no one ever find her body? Not even her own father seems too worried about finding her body. And what does the ghost of Hannah have to do with anything? Nothing.
And what does the ghost of Hannah have to do with anything? Nothing.
What’s listed above comprise just the most glaring problems about Cabin Girl? Oh, there’s so much more wrong with the screenplay. Aside from the distractingly terrible storytelling, director Jon D. Wagner offers some competent filmmaking. Neither atmospheric nor scary, Cabin Girl never looks or feels cheap or shoddy. Wagner provides the thriller with some workmanlike quality. Most of the performances are pretty middling stuff. No one’s so wooden as to distract from what’s happening on screen. Yet there’s at least of couple of actors that will make you wonder if the director casted a few of their friends.
Cabin Girl Continues Tubi’s Growing Dominance as the “Hallmark” of Bad Thrillers
Though Cabin Girl doesn’t suffer from the technical woes that typically plague B-movie turkeys, it’s braindead story is one destined for the annals of bad cinema. Convoluted, overstuffed, and illogical, the screenplay will have you talking long after the credits have rolled. Just for all the reasons. There’s at least two different, very unrelated, movies crammed into roughly 90 minutes. Neither of those movies, by the way, is very good. And when together into a single movie, they’re somehow even worse. An absence of scares and atmosphere alongside poor performances are the least of this thriller’s problems.