out of Five
Running time: 90
Gore-splattered, quirky horror comedy that owes a huge debt to The Evil Dead – occasionally effective and has its moments but is a little too in love with itself to really succeed.
Cabin Fever is the debut of co-writer / director Eli Roth, a self-confessed horror movie geek who supposedly got the idea for the film after contracting a nasty skin disease while working on a horse farm. Combining sickening gore scenes, quirky off-beat moments and extremely dark humour, the movie owes a huge debt to Sam Raimi’s cult classic The Evil Dead.
However, though it definitely has its moments, it’s a little too messy to really work on its own terms.
After an effectively creepy credits sequence, the plot quickly becomes your basic horror movie staple. Having just graduated from college, five stereotypical kids -nice guy Paul (Rider Strong), nice girl Karen (Jordan Ladd), cocky guy Jeff (Joey Kern), sexy girl Marcy (Cerina Vincent) and drunk, obnoxious guy Bert (James DeBello)- take a trip to a mountain cabin to party it up before they have to head off and get jobs. Their thrill-seeking exploits are cut short, however, when Karen contracts a nasty virus that starts eating her flesh.
Realising a little too late that the disease could be contagious, the others lock Karen in the shed while they try and figure out what to do. Then, as another one of the group succumbs to the virus, they discover an additional problem in the shape of a local lynch mob intent on wiping out all traces of the disease and anyone who’s come into contact with it. And that’s before the Very Nasty Dog shows up…
Gore, Gore And More Gore
Roth is adept at using shock humour to offset the scary moments or
juxtaposing sexy scenes with gory scenes – the scene where a naked Marcy is shaving her legs in the bath and then starts shaving off strips of flesh is a good case in point and will have most people hiding behind their hands. It also has some genuinely unpleasant moments, such as when they realise that a dog has eaten some of Karen’s face…and that she’s still alive. Oh yes, it’s that kind of movie.
The result is that some of it works (e.g. quirky moments such as the Kung Fu Kid at the garage) and some of it, though good, seems to belong to a different film (the stoner cop, reputedly the subject of Roth’s next movie) and Roth switches tone so often that it becomes annoying. Similarly, though Marcy is undoubtedly sexy and Bert is a great character who gets all the best lines, the other characters, are largely forgettable and it’s difficult to care too much about any of them.
That said, if you’re a fan of cult, low-budget, gory horror flicks, then this is the movie for you and it’s certainly a lot more fun than the likes of Darkness Falls, Jeepers Creepers 2 or Feardotcom. It’s just occasionally hard to escape the feeling that it could have been better.