Cabin Fever (2002)

It was one of those films that I had meant to watch for ages. Whenever I saw it on TV, I would catch about 10 minutes, then something would happen to prevent me from seeing the rest. Was it cursed? Maybe.
But when the Blu Ray directors cut of Cabin Fever arrived at Love Horror towers last week, I knew that I would finally get to watch the whole thing!

It starts like many others. 5 teens going on a road trip, somewhere remote (for no apparent reason), and in the sort of area where redneck weirdos like to hang out and do creepy things.
The teens are your usual bunch too: the jock; the good looking arrogant male; the hot, airhead cheerleader girl; the friendlier, plainer girl and of course the unassuming lead guy – our hero.

These party animals want to go wild in a remote cabin, lighting fires, drinking, smoking and shooting squirrels. Problem is, the area is ‘bad’ as a contagious infection is spreading through the animals and humans and killing them off in horrible bloody ways.
It’s only a matter of time before one of the group get infected and that’s when the paranoia and irrational behaviour starts. They turn on each other, try to find help/escape, and it turns into a battle for survival.

So I’m about 45 minutes in, and kind of enjoying it. There are a couple of familiar faces – in particular Rider Strong who plays Paul (the lead). Although I’m not struck by the originality of it all (there isn’t much that’s original), I do find myself cringing quite a bit.

The infection is a fast acting leprosy/ebola virus kid of thing. So when it’s caught, the victims tend to bleed a lot, have their skin peel off, and generally fall to pieces. All done with good special effects – yuk.

But, when a local police deputy turns up, the film takes a weird turn, a turn for the worst.
After starting out as a regular horror, the deputy turns out to be a comedy character, which immediately confuses things. I was willing to ignore the little plot holes, but a weird ‘dude’ police deputy who is oblivious to the blood and drama just doesn’t fit.
It’s as if that’s the moment when the silly button is pressed. The characters start to act even more unrealistically (doing things that you REALLY wouldn’t do in the same circumstances) and the horror and drama is replaced by apparent attempts to make the audience laugh, whilst at the same time be ‘grossed out’.

I didn’t mind the director, Eli Roth up until now. I quite enjoyed Hostel, and assumed that Cabin Fever would be more of the same. But he has now dropped way down in my estimations. Any credit that I had given him has been eaten away, like that flesh eating virus got to it.

The stupid twist that this film takes feels like an arrogant move; like he was making things up as he went along; like he’s over confident; and like the only audience that he’s trying to appeal to is the jocks, arrogant airhead cheerleaders and unassuming dorks.

Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t switch off. I still cringed my way through, enjoying (sort of) the bloodier moments. The most uncomfortable being when a girl with the infection (skin peeling off) is shaving her legs in the bath *shudder*
But the appearance of a redneck lynch mob, the predictable events leading to a messy shootout and an ending which just seemed to ‘keep on going’ made me pretty glad when the ordeal was over.

Its a high class film. Looks good, has the vital horror foundations and can’t be faulted in the way that it looks. But certain pointless characters, stupid events, random attempts at humour and general disjointedness make Cabin Fever a big, bloody mess.
If you like it messy and weird, this is one for you.

The Blu Ray directors cut version of Cabin Fever will be released on 22nd February (the same day as Cabin Fever 2)

Movie Rating: ★★½☆☆ 

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Tom Atkinson

Tom is one of the editors at Love Horror. He has been watching horror for a worryingly long time, starting on the Universal Monsters and progressing through the Carpenter classics. He has a soft-spot for eighties horror.More

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