×

Return to Cabin by the Lake

USA's "Return to Cabin by the Lake" is nothing like its predecessor -- and that's a good thing. Campy to the max, this sequel to last year's highly rated telepic does away with the original's misogyny and replaces it with in-jokes about the Hollywood production process.

With:
Stanley Caldwell - Judd Nelson Mike Helton - Brian Krause Alison Gaddis - Dahlia Salem

USA’s “Return to Cabin by the Lake” is nothing like its predecessor — and that’s a good thing. Campy to the max, this sequel to last year’s highly rated telepic does away with the original’s misogyny and replaces it with in-jokes about the Hollywood production process. Completely in tune with just how flaky showbiz types can be, this serial killer story is comfortable in the confines of feather-light, jokey fright.

Exec produced, like the first “Cabin,” by teen king Neal H. Moritz (“The Fast and the Furious,” “I Know What You Did Last Summer”), the second follows the same plotline — psycho writer likes to drown people — but parody has been added to great effect. A pic within a pic, project lives up to its B-movie spirit by taking place on a B-movie set, and it’s that wink-wink approach that turns what could have been a bad sequel to a bad movie into something easier to digest.

Having faked his own death to end the first “Cabin,” Stanley Caldwell (Judd Nelson) is back, and sicker than ever. After murdering scores of women in order to “research” his novels, he’s irked to discover that people are reworking one of his bestsellers for a slasher pic.

So he drowns his representation — after all, it’s always the agent’s fault — and then shows up on location at Lake Shaw to stalk flamboyant, cocky slasher director Mike Helton (Brian Krause), a perky assistant and a host of egocentric actors who would “die” for a bigger part.

Stanley’s attentions, however, eventually turn toward Alison Gaddis (Dahlia Salem), a smart and savvy scribe hired to improve the dialogue. Having educated herself about everything Stanley — his motivations, his love life, his fears — she’s the only one on the set who has tried to enter his mind, and he’s not too thrilled about that.

As soon as he offs Mike, Stanley takes over as director — everyone thinks he’s a stand-in assigned by the studio — and it’s only a matter of time before other people start turning up dead.

As Stanley the second time around, Nelson is still rather bland but does a good enough job in conveying his creepy love affair with torture. While hardly a major presence onscreen, he’s cultivating a solid character on which to base a never-ending franchise (a second sequel seems likely based on the ending). Other perfs are minor efforts, with Salem’s take on a smart girl swept away by Stanley’s mad genius the bright spot.

The Roger Corman-like set is a hoot, and more notable than the actual tech credits are the tricks of the trade highlighted throughout by returning director Po Chih Leong, including a clever use of outdoor backdrops, a tank that doubles as a lagoon and creepy mannequins made up to resemble decomposed bodies.

Return to Cabin by the Lake

USA Network; Tues. Aug. 14, 9 p.m.

Production: Filmed in Vancouver by Original Films. Executive producers, Neal H. Moritz, Dara Cohen; producer, John V. Stuckmeyer; associate producer, Judith Craig Marlin; director, Po Chih Leong, writer, Jeffrey Reddick.

Crew: Camera, Stephen Katz; editor, Anthony Redman; music, Frankie Blue; casting, Penny Perry, Trish Robinson, Mary Montica-Poole. 2 HOURS.

Cast: Stanley Caldwell - Judd Nelson Mike Helton - Brian Krause Alison Gaddis - Dahlia SalemWith: Claudette Mink, J.R. Bourne, Andrew Moxham, Michael P. Northey, Elizabeth Bowen, Kandyse McLure, Mark J. Gibbon, Will Sanderson, Natasha Wilson, Emmanuelle Vaugier, Aaron Trainor.

More TV

  • Joseph Mawle

    'Lord of the Rings' Series at Amazon Casts 'Game of Thrones' Alum Joseph Mawle

    Amazon’s upcoming “Lord of the Rings” series has cast Joseph Mawle in a main role, Variety has confirmed with sources. Mawle joins previously announced cast members Will Poulter and Markella Kavenagh. Official details of Mawle’s characters are being kept under wraps, but sources say he will play a villain named Oren. Amazon declined to comment. Reps [...]

  • TV News Roundup: Jacob Tobia Joins

    TV News Roundup: Jacob Tobia Joins 'She-Ra and the Princess of Power'

    In today’s TV news roundup, “She-Ra and the Princess of Power” Season 4 adds Jacob Tobia, and The Weather Channel announces the premiere date for its climate change special with the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates.  CASTING Jacob Tobia has joined Netflix‘s “She-Ra and the Princess of Power.” Voicing Double Trouble, Tobia joins Aimee Carrero, Karen Fukuhara, [...]

  • TV Ratings: 'Watchmen' Premiere Draws 1.5

    TV Ratings: 'Watchmen' Premiere Draws 1.5 Million Viewers

    Who will watch the Watchmen? Turns out 1.5 million people, that’s who. The debut of the highly anticipated HBO series delivered that many sets of eyeballs across all the premium cabler’s platforms on Sunday night. For comparison, Sunday’s premiere was up 21% in linear on last week’s “Succession” season finale, and up 20% from the [...]

  • Variety Sundance Portrait Studio

    Melanie Lynskey Joins Showtime Pilot 'Yellowjackets' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Melanie Lynskey has been cast in one of the main roles of the Showtime ensemble drama pilot “Yellowjackets,” Variety has learned exclusively. The project tells the story of a team of talented high school girls soccer players who survive a plane crash deep in the Ontario wilderness. The series chronicles their descent from a complicated [...]

  • Writers vs Agents Packaging War WGA

    Writers Guild Boosting Efforts in Project Development Amid Agency Standoff

    The Writers Guild of America, locked in a six-month standoff with major talent agencies, has announced that it’s boosting efforts at gathering TV, streaming and film project development data to help members find new employment opportunities. The WGA made the disclosure in a message to members on Monday. The guild directed its 15,000 members to fire [...]

  • Amy Poehler Jessica Goldberg

    Amy Poehler, Jessica Goldberg Team for 'The Mother-in-Law' Put Pilot at NBC

    Jessica Goldberg is set to write a drama with a put pilot order at NBC that Amy Poehler will executive produce. The project is titled “The Mother-in-Law,” based on the novel of the same name by Sally Hepworth. It is described as a thriller centered around a woman’s complicated relationship with her husband’s family that [...]

  • Beau Willimon Hulu The First

    Beau Willimon, Katie Cappiello to Produce 'Slut' Series Adaptation at Netflix

    Playwright Katie Cappiello is teaming with “House of Cards” creator Beau Willimon to bring an adaptation of her 2013 play “Slut” to the small screen. The show, titled “Grand Army,” is set up at Netflix with Odessa A’zion set to lead the cast. “Grand Army” follows five students at the largest public high school in [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content