Cabin Fever Review (2003)

Spoiler-free so you can read before you watch

Cabin Fever Review (2003)

Horrorific content by penguin_pete on July 07th, 2018 | Movie Review | Cabin in the Woods, Wilderness, Teen, Virus

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It’s about five teenage friends partying in the woods over Spring Break and encountering a local infectious disease.

Cabin Fever was directed by Eli Roth (who also directed Hostel and Knock Knock) and stars Rider Strong (from Borderland), Jordan Ladd (from Madhouse) and James Debello.

Terror in the flesh.

Cabin Fever Review

Stop us if you’re heard this before: A group of teenagers get together for a fun party weekend at a cabin in the woods... Oh, you have? That’s right, this plot sounds awfully familiar. It kinda reminds you of Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Evil Dead, one or another sequel of Friday the 13th, Sleepaway Camp, Antichrist, and even The Blair Witch Project in that teenagers head into the woods but chance upon the cabin later. Oops, almost forgot, The Cabin in the Woods.

Then again, if the people behind this movie were that shy about shopworn horror tropes, it wouldn’t have been made. Give Cabin Fever this much, it does exactly what it sets out to do, and never for a minute pretends to be anything else. It also happens to be the debut of - let’s get it out of your system now - Eli Roth, who also wrote the script and even plays a bit role. Roth’s fandom, splashing back from later flicks like the Hostel series, encases this movie in critic-proof armor. To a certain segment of the horror audience, Eli “Bear Jew” Roth can do no harm.

The Worst Case Of Cooties Ever

Jeff, Marcy, Paul, Karen and Bert are college students out on Spring Break, an annual holiday which is developing a heck of a body count over the years, and head for a lone cabin in the woods. They get accosted by a wilderness hermit who’s clearly sick with something and begs for help, but Bert promptly shoots him, casting the original sin that will funkify the group’s karma. The hermit later causes calamity for the group between being on fire and trying to steal their car.

Karen is the first to get infected, but one by one the others follow. Following typical horror canon, the teens might as well have numbers branded on their foreheads to show which order they’ll be picked off. None of the cast demonstrates the sense God gave a potato, save Jeff, who takes his beer and nopes into the deep woods. Perhaps the illness clouds human judgment, as it does a random local dog who begins attacking everyone after it’s infected.

Even though the movie has its own bonkers logic - the flesh-eating virus acts like a bacterium but is called a virus, mixing up its pathogen labels - it follows through with a giddy mix of cheesy humor and beefy gore. Not only does the virus liquefy people eventually, but the special effects show its work on human and animal alike at every possible gloppy, gloopy stage of it. In between are such memorable comic relief characters as the pancakes kid and the party cop. These have been memed to death on the Internet, which is probably what they were designed to do. Say what you will about Eli Roth, he knows his audience and he’s the right director for his time.

“Nobody ever said art had to be in good taste.” - Roger Ebert

The above quote is Ebert reviewing the 1978 George Romero version of Dawn of the Dead, but it’s a good mantra to keep in mind when reviewing horror movies in general. Like Dawn of the Dead, Cabin Fever is a hearty mix of satirical and absurdist humor, plus well-timed jump scares and convincing gore. Veteran horror fans can amuse themselves picking out the numerous shout-outs and homages. It’s got a little bit of everything for everybody. While it doesn’t specialize enough to be outstanding at any one thing, and it’s last in line when it comes to originality, it’s a solid common denominator for what we call “horror” around here.

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