Raven's Cabin Movie Review
Written by Simon Bland
DVD released by Monster Pictures
Directed by Loren Johnson
Written by Katrina Rodriguez
2012, 90 minutes, Rated 15 (UK)
DVD released on 11th August 2014
Andrea Burdett as Andrea Briggs
Luke Ledger as Brian Carter
Pia Prendiville as Jessica Howell
John McPherson as Harris
Jag Pannu as Jack Tyler
Aussie distribution house Monster Pictures has carved out a nice little niche for itself releasing skin and bones indies that a couple of decades ago might never have seen the light of day. It's got to the point now where you know exactly what you're in for as soon as you see their green, glowing logo at the head of your movie - big ideas, small budget. Raven's Cabin follows suit, offering up a supernatural-thriller-cum-teen-drama from first time feature director Loren Johnson that transforms a scant budget into an intriguing and confidently shot debut.
Johnson's story follows a group of teens who, after being snatched from their homes in the dead of night, find themselves dumped at a camp in the middle of the woods. Naturally, they're a little confused but it's not long before all their (and our) questions are answered. We learn that this troublesome lot have been transported to a bad kid boot camp by their parents in a last ditch attempt to kick them into shape. New recruit Andrea (Andrea Burdett) joins the rest of her company as they're forced through hell by the camp's sadistic leader and amateur Rob Brydon looky-likey, Harris (John McPherson). Backed up by his gang of cronies, Harris does his best to yell, whack and cage these young offenders back to becoming respectable members of society. However, when closeted psychic Andrea starts picking up ghostly visions of a suspicious death on the premises, the opportunity arises to expose this corrupted camp for the deadly place it really is.
Starring a handful of young Aussie talent (including Heath Ledger's cousin Luke) it's hard to knock Raven's Cabin for its performances which, while slightly amateurish, do the job just fine. The main issues here lie with story - why don't these 'bad kids' simply rush their clearly-outnumbered captors and escape? Can't we delve a little deeper into the background of these unwilling recruits? Oh, and who's funding this dodgy programme anyway? Sadly all of these questions remain unanswered in favour of a supernatural storyline that's little different to the kind you've likely seen before. As the ghostly visions and shock cuts amp up, the film's main 'hell camp' hook is left in the dust; making it feel a little superfluous and leaving more than a few unanswered queries.
As with most Monster Pictures releases Raven's Cabin was made on a shoestring budget, however that doesn't hold director Loren Johnson back from crafting a solid calling card feature. It's by no means perfect but it boasts enough rough and ready promise to see him through any story hiccups he encountered on the way.