Written by Eli Roth and Randy Pearlstein
Running Time: 1:32
A throw back to old school horror, Cabin Fever hits almost all the right notes. Story questions abound and the biggest problem isn't the fault of the filmmakers, but of technology.
A group of 5 college kids hit the woods for what they think is going to be a relaxing vacation. But things are never that easy. A stranger in the woods attacks them. He has contracted some kind of strange disease that makes him look like his skin is falling off. The kids think they've escaped, but little do they know what's about to happen. One by one the kids all become infected with seemingly no hope of a cure. Going for help backfires and the townspeople are strangely indifferent to their problems. Who will survive the fever?
If you're looking for a couple of jump-out-of-your-seat scares and a lot of gross looking stuff, Cabin Fever is for you. The movie takes a while to get going. According to my clock, it was almost an hour before things really start to get rolling, but that last half hour is a killer (pun intended). The first hour isn't bad by any means, it's just a slow burn as the story is set up. Once the virus is unleashed, things get really nasty. There are some truly disgusting moments involving the effects of the mysterious disease. A moment of passion turns bloody, dogs go crazy and a shaving scene that left almost all the women in the theater feeling ill.
Apparently the writer/director, Eli Roth, got the idea for the film while shaving one day. He nicked himself, and the cut started to look really nasty and he thought that it might make a good horror film. And the flashback story in the film, the one about the bowling alley employee that goes nuts, is based on a true story from Eli's childhood. It was changed slightly from the actual story, but all the elements are there. Which is nice to know, because it made me realize that Eli isn't totally demented to come up with ideas like that.
I had some problems with the movie. First off, it just sort of started with no explanation. Man in woods finds dead dog and gets infected. No rhyme or reason given either then or at all through the film. Then there were the townspeople; did they know about the virus or not? Had this happened before? The surprise ending might lead you to believe they knew about it, but it was never fleshed out. Then there were the usual horror film things that happened that make you want to yell at the screen. Why, when you're running for your life, would you stop for anything?
The biggest issue, and the reason this film didn't have the creep out effect of old horror films, is the look. It looked too, good. Too clean. I had the same problem with Freddy vs. Jason. It didn't look like a horror film. It looked like every other movie, just bad things happened to people. Old time horror films always had that cheap, grainy look to them and that made them creepier. Being able to make high gloss films for less money these days is nice for most films, but for horror films, it makes them look almost too nice.
The acting was pretty good for a horror film. You had the regular horror characters: the sensitive guy (Rider Strong) in love with the girl-next-door (Jordan Ladd); the frat boy with no concern about anyone else (James DeBello); the ladies man who was an annoying priss who I just wanted to slap (Joey Kern); and the incredibly hot babe who got naked a couple of times in the film (Cerina Vincent). All of them played their characters well, especially Strong who we all watched grow up on Boy Meets World and who does a really good job breaking out of the teen pin-up mold. His character had the biggest arc, going from love-struck friend to ruthless killer in the span of 90 minutes.
THE BOTTOM LINE
So overall, I enjoyed Cabin Fever. It had a lot of good, classic horror moments and was one of the few movies that made me feel sick while watching it. The story could have been fleshed out a little better and if there was some way to degrade the look of the movie, it would have been even better. But it's a good throwback to old school horror.
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