Cabin Fever (2002) / Horror-Comedy

MPAA Rated: R for strong violence, gore, sexuality, nudity, language and drug use
Running Time: 94 min.

Cast: Rider Strong, James DeBello, Cerina Vincent, Jordan Ladd, Joey Kern, Guisseppe Andrews          
Director: Eli Roth

Screenplay: Eli Roth, Randy Pearlstein
Review published March 14, 2004

As a satire of schlock-horror, Cabin Fever had the potential to be much better than most attempts at covering the same ground in recent years.  As an homage, it also could have done the same.  However, as a mixture of satire and homage, it is a film at odds with itself, wanting to be a fun romp within the genre, while also trying to deliver the standard gore and thrills that have virtually been cycled out of existence.  What starts off with quirky charm soon descends into meaningless dreck, eventually falling prey to the eddying nature of the derivative plotting.  By the end, it becomes merely an inside joke for the ravenous few who watch every low budget gore-fest since Night of the Living Dead or Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and is without much entertainment value for almost everyone else.

It's a simple story really -- a group of five college kids travel up to a remote cabin in the woods for some fun and frolic, where they are visited by a strange man who seems to be afflicted with some sort of disease that is eating his flesh.  They end up killing the guy, but due to a strange set of circumstances, the disease is spreading to others, including the friends themselves.

The only thing I enjoyed while watching Cabin Fever was its offbeat, campy sense of humor.  Unfortunately, this humor isn't enough to save the film overall from becoming a dismal experience, and for most of the last hour, much of the humor is largely absent.  In its place is a high gore quotient, and standard shock elements you've seen hundreds of times before.  There is an occasional homage to a famous classic schlock movie of the past, but they are merely obscure references that only a small fragment of the audience will enjoy. 

It's all very unfocused effort, not really meant for mass consumption, and will obviously be a cult film for those who already love these kinds of movies.  For those who really want to see a terrific variation on the Living Dead series, watch 28 Days Later, a far more mature and scary treatment.  Cabin Fever is merely created so that the splatterhouse film loving crowd can fondly remember all of those films the rest of us have tried so hard to forget.

Qwipster's rating:

2004 Vince Leo