So, I’m back with Eli Roth’s 2002 directorial debut, the gross-out fest Cabin Fever. This movies been out for eleven years but I’m just seeing it now. I enjoyed it but I’m not sure it lived up to the hype that I’d heard about it. That being said, I love whenever someone with a passion for horror makes a horror movie.
The movie follows five, interchangeable college kids who rent a cabin in the woods to get down to sem serious partying after finals.
On their way, they encounter the dumb, seemingly racist yokels that live in the nearby town. Trouble doesn’t really begin until Burt (James DeBello) accidentally shoots a scabby, bloody hermit. The man begs Burt for help but Burt gets scared and then starts to purposely shoot him. The hermit reappears later that evening, begging for help, then trying to steal their car. It takes about five minutes for the well-to-do, educated college students to become violent. As the days pass (I counted four), starting with Karen (Jordan Ladd), they begin to succumb to the same bloody disease that the hermit had.
Whatever the disease is, it leaves you spewing blood and makes your limbs look like bloody kielbasas. They turn on each other almost as quickly as they turned on the homeless man. They lock Karen in the tool-shed, which seems really practical and mean. Jeff (Joey Kern) abandons the group and leaves with a bunch of beer. Paul (Rider Strong, yes, Shawn from Boy Meets World was in this) has sex with Marcy (Cerina Vincent), despite his romantic feelings for Karen. The movie becomes a kind of killer-disease/siege movie, as they deal with the murderous locals, each other, and the disease.
Burt eventually gets the car working well enough to get into town, which leads to the most random scene ever.
The movie basically has the main characters dropping like flies in creative ways, that I won’t divulge because you should see them.
I wonder how this movie feels to someone who isn’t a big fan of horror. The movie isn’t necessarily scary but it is gory and it pays homage to a few classic horror movies. The Evil Dead is the first obvious choice, with the isolated cabin, the need to isolate someone, and the freely spewing blood. The murderous hillbillies reminds me of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. The absolutely useless law enforcement reminded me of Last House on the Left. All Deputy Olsen cares about is partying.
The movie has the feel of an 80’s horror-comedy but the gore is amped way up. I liked it but, frankly, think it isn’t as hardcore as some people think. I also think it would have affected me more if I liked any of the characters but I honestly found them to be universally unlikable, except Karen. She has the worst friends ever. Here are some effects that I particularly liked;
There’s a reason the gore looks good, it was done by K.N.B. EFX Group.
I did notice something interesting in the opening credits. Angelo Badalamenti did several parts of the score, while Nathan Barr did the rest. If you’re a Twin Peaks fan then you probably know Badalamenti’s name, since he did the music for the show. I actually really liked the score. It was mostly tense strings that increased the tension with a few minutes of Badalamenti’s jazz and it all worked somehow.
This isn’t the deepest movie in the universe, but it’s a fun movie. What I appreciate about it is that it’s R-rated when it seems like horror movies of that time suffered from a severe case of the PG-13’s. Also, I honestly agree with Roth’s view that people really come apart in a crisis.