Sunday, October 21, 2018

Movie Review: "Cabin Fever" (2002)

Director: Eli Roth
Year: 2002
Rating: R
Running Time: 1 hour, 33 minutes

A group of college kids heads up to a remote cabin for a weekend of raucous debaucheryTheir fun is cut short when one of them gets infected by a flesh-eating virus, leaving the others wondering how to help their friend without getting sick themselves.

Cabin Fever 2002 movie still Rider Strong Jordan Ladd
"There's some sick shit in the woods and that hermit's spreading it around." (Image Source)
Isn't it fun watching people's flesh fall off? "Cabin Fever" is the feature film directorial debut of Eli Roth who would go on to direct such films as "Hostel," "Green Inferno," and "Knock Knock." Roth also wrote the story and co-wrote the screenplay with first-time writer Randy Pearlstein. The story revolves around a group of college kids who make up a bunch of standard horror film regulars. There's the horny couple, Jeff (Joey Kern) and Marcy (Cerina Vincent), the hot single girl Karen (Jordan Ladd), her friend zoned long-time buddy Paul (Rider Strong) who has a crush on her for decades, and, of course, the token jerky pervert comic relief character Bert (James DeBello). The group heads up to a cabin in the woods for a wild weekend to release some steam, drink some booze, and get really randy. One evening, a homeless man who is clearly very ill knocks on their door begging for help. The gang, who are afraid of catching his illness, try and chase him off, leading to an altercation that spreads blood and bodily fluids everywhere. When one of the people in the group starts to get sick, the remaining members are left debating what the best course of action is to help their friend while avoiding catching the obviously deadly disease.
Cabin Fever 2002 movie still
"That guy asked for our help. We lit him on fire." (Image Source)
It is clear that from the very beginning of Eli Roth's career, he has always been a huge proponent and fan of 'body horror.' He loves gore and the grotesque nature of things, and he certainly puts that on full display in "Cabin Fever." The horror in this film is mostly derived from watching people rot once they catch this flesh-eating disease. There is a scene where a character thinks he is performing a sexual act with his fingers on a woman, but he is really penetrating a gaping wound in her leg. It's enough to make your stomach turn, but then again, that's sort of the point. "Cabin Fever" also deals up some dark, borderline goofy comedy, much of which has aged very terribly over the last decade and a half. We wouldn't go as far as saying the acting is good, but it's serviceable given the circumstances. Eli Roth himself offers up two cameos, one where he sports a Party City-esque bald cap, and the other where he's wearing a clearly fake, cheaply and poorly applied soul patch. Beyond these clearly intentionally bad appliances, the rest of the makeup work is actually very effective and looks disturbing even when factoring in the film's low budget. Despite the great makeup work, there is an overabundance of fake out jump scares, but these "boo!" moments aren't really what Roth is trying to use to unsettle the audience. There is some tension here and there that comes from threats that aren't the disease itself, whether it be a carrier trying to make contact, a possibly rabid dog, or some scared town folk who are coming after the campers because of rumors that they are crazy murderers.
Cabin Fever 2002 movie still
"We're all gonna get it. We're all gonna get sick." (Image Source)
Director Eli Roth's style of horror isn't for everyone, but if gross-out body horror is your thing, there are worse options than "Cabin Fever."

My Rating: 5/10
BigJ's Rating: 5.5/10
IMDB's Rating: 5.6/10
RT Rating: 63%
Do we recommend this movie: Meh.

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