When you have good performers and a decent story on hand, you would think to make it better by working on the screenplay in order to present the story in a better way. Cabin Girl, Jon D. Wagner’s latest directorial venture, is technically a thriller, but there are scary moments in the film that might put full-fledged horror films to shame. Yet, I still believe that it is a potential wasted or at least not fully realized. The problem with the film is its tonal shifts. At one point, it borrows from the ‘found footage’ subgenre and then proceeds to get inspired by the ‘cabin in the woods’ subgenre of horror films, ultimately ending up in a Shutter Island meets The Shining concoction, which does not necessarily work to give the film its satisfying ending.
The plot revolves around vlogging sensation Ava, who becomes famous after starting her channel as a girl vlogging about her adventures traveling America in her camper van. Suddenly, she changes lanes, vlogging-wise, when she stops the traveling vlogs after a minor accident and switches to day-to-day vlogs after she starts to live in a cabin in a small town. Soon, the story of a young girl named ‘Hannah Granger’ grips Ava’s mind, and she decides to get to the bottom of her alleged suicide but begins to lose her sanity in the process.
Plot Synopsis: What Happens In ‘Cabin Girl’?
Ava Robbins lost her parents three years ago. To cope with the unbearable loneliness, she decides to risk it all and put all her money into living a nomadic existence, traveling through America in a camper van. All of her plans are revealed online, where she starts her vlogging channel under the name “Van Girl.” She didn’t expect it to get the attention that it did. Her story about loneliness and her adventurous vlogs really catapulted her to online fame, and she developed a huge fan following. They started to follow her and care for Ava’s next adventure. The channel and the vlogs became her life, the fans became her family, and she started to enjoy life. When her fans don’t receive any news about her upcoming vlog, they grow concerned and begin an online campaign to locate Ava, hoping nothing bad has happened to her on her trips. She was just 24 years old and was traveling alone and meeting with strangers constantly, even having encounters with cops. It wouldn’t come as a complete surprise if something terrible happened to her. The world is full of evil men.
The next vlog Ava uploads put her fans at ease when she breaks the news of retiring from the nomadic life. This didn’t mean she was about to give up vlogging anytime soon. She met with a minor accident after passing through a small town and was helped by a local resident who rescued her and helped her get rehabilitated. Getting back on the road was not on her cards anytime soon. The town’s calm atmosphere and relaxed cabin life meant she was not leaving it. The doctor had prescribed that she rest for at least three months. In the meantime, she was going to vlog about her daily life while she lived in the newly bought cabin. Every small town has its own legends and folklore that give it its uniqueness. Ava didn’t know that the cabin she had bought was once home to Hannah Granger, a girl who committed suicide twenty years ago.
Why Does Ava Get Obsessed With Hannah?
It made perfect sense when Ava was a little startled to find that Hannah lived in the cabin that she had bought. She saw Hannah’s dilapidated shrine right next to the river she drowned in. A local bartender, Trina, sees Ava and tells her Hannah’s backstory. Trina was into tarot card readings and Ouija boards. When she sees Ava getting intrigued by Hannah, she offers her help. Ava’s obsession, however, seems abrupt. It can perhaps be pinned down to her lonely cabin life, given that she had started her whole nomadic journey due to loneliness. The boredom can get distressing, and the mind can play tricks like making her hang on to an age-old suicide case. You might think it was her ploy to generate more views on her declining channel; all of Ava’s obsessions are connected to a middle-aged man who is out to locate her whereabouts to conclude something sinister.
Does Ava Uncover Hannah’s Mystery?
Ava is completely unaware of the strange man who is inching closer to her every day. The camper van he drove was full of Ava’s photographs, and he kept an eye on all her vlogs. Meanwhile, she is sucked into Hannah’s strange case. Everybody maintained that Hannah committed suicide, while Trina revealed to Ava that she still thinks that Hannah was killed by her own family. They thought she was a witch, which is why they first banished her from their wealth and ultimately killed her. Ava gets to know about Hannah’s brother, who also tried to commit suicide but survived. She gets a hunch that he knows about Hannah’s real killer. Supernatural events start to occur around Ava. She thinks that as she is investigating Hannah’s case, her ghost is trying to reveal her killer. Yet she isn’t sure, which is why she calls Trina to help her with her Tarot cards. When Ava finds a note with “he’s guilty” scribbled on it, she becomes certain that Hannah is trying to communicate that her brother is her killer.
‘Cabin Girl’ Ending Explained: Who Wrote The Note? Why Was The Man Following Ava?
With each passing day, Ava was getting a little unhinged while investigating Hannah’s case. She started to grow wary and distrustful of all the town residents, especially those who were related to the Granger family. She even ousts Trina from her investigation, even though she was the one trying to help her. She could only trust Kellen, the man who rescued her after her accident. Soon, he discovered that the note she found that made her convinced that Elijah Granger, Hannah’s brother, had killed her came from Ava’s notebook. Ava had written “She’s guilty” but had torn out the piece of paper, making it look like the note read “he’s guilty.”
Kellen thought he had caught the pervert who was following Ava but realized he had made a mistake. The man was not a pervert. He simply wanted to confront Ava. The chain of events simply made it look as if he was a pervert who watched Ava’s vlogs and now was stalking her, probably with the intention to sexually assault her. Nothing could be farther from the truth. The mystery behind Ava’s deteriorating mental health was that her psyche was not able to deny the fact that she killed the old man’s daughter, Jackie.
What had happened was this: before Kellen found Ava in critical condition, she was texting and driving. Jackie, who was one of Ava’s biggest fans, was on her way to locate her. Jackie was talking about her adventures to her father on a video call, which is when she saw Ava’s famous van approach, but because Ava was busy texting while driving, she ran Jackie over while her father watched this on video. From that day on, he made it a mission to locate Ava and bring her to justice. Ava was suffering from peritraumatic dissociation because of the head injury she sustained during the accident. Her hallucination related to Hannah’s case was her mind’s way of not facing the fact that she was responsible for somebody’s death. Her habit of vlogging had become an addiction, and she couldn’t keep her phone away, which is why she was busy texting even while driving.
When it became absolutely clear that she killed Jackie, her ill mind made her violent. She could go to any lengths to keep the secret hidden, which is why she started to attack Kellen and the others. The narrative of the whole town being against her because she discovered Hannah’s killer kept running like a broken record in her mind. Jackie’s father doesn’t let her escape justice and prevents her from jumping over the bridge; the same bridge Hannah apparently jumped from. In the end, Ava is simply left as a mentally ill woman who is living in a virtual reality where she is still a vlogging star and the fans still admire her. The reality was that she was in a mental hospital with little to no chance of recovery.