Cabin Fever

In a summer that saw the return of 80s horror icons Freddy and Jason (in the same film no less) and a whole slew of lame horror films, Cabin Fever marks another return to some of the recent glory days of horror. These films were full of stupid kids, booze, drugs, sex and gratuitous nudity, and lots and lots of gore. Surprisingly, there is no "bad guy" here. Instead, it is some sort of flesh eating disease that attacks five kids in a secluded cabin. It doesn't rely on too many gimmicks, and for the most part, manages to keep its focus, which makes it better than most horror films. Nevertheless, what keeps it from actually being good is a scattershot approach and a lack of purpose. Sure, the purpose is to kill dumb kids, but horror films today, especially after Scream, have a wink-wink attitude towards the audience. Cabin Fever sometimes takes itself seriously, sometimes doesn't, and in veering between the two it loses valuable momentum.

There are also some really weird people in the film that seem to come out of nowhere, and have no other purpose than to be weird. And some haunting atmospheric music. It's very David Lynch, and the reason for this is that writer/director Eli Roth worked with Lynch on an upcoming project. Longtime Lynch scorer Angelo Badalmenti contributes some of his haunting music. Otherwise, five kids are going to the woods to celebrate summer. Paul (Rider Strong, Grad Night, The Pact) is lusting after longtime friend Karen (Jordan Ladd, The Specials, Puzzled), the ultra-hot and ultra-cool girl next door. Bert (James DeBello, Scary Movie 2, Swimfan) is the resident idiot, looking forward to shooting anything he can with his bb gun. The other couple is Jeff (Joey Kern, Grind, XX/XY) and Marcy (Cerina Vincent, Not Another Teen Movie).

Things take a turn for the weird when a hurt local. He is bleeding profusely and has many open sores all over his body. The kids want to help, but also want to keep their distance, but he keeps moving forward. They try to scare him away, and end up burning and beating him. Soon, Karen discovers that she has what he had, and everybody panics. They hole her away and try to find help, with some pretty bad results. As time passes, a couple other kids find that they have the disease, and the paranoia grows even greater. Roth and co-writer Randy Pearlstein do a good job of moving things at a breakneck pace once Karen becomes infected. Nobody knows what to do or how to stop it, and each new infection makes them even crazier.

Still, this story can only go so far, and there comes a point when the plot takes a turn into the truly inane. It is fascinating to see how Roth has his characters handle this intense stress. Bert gets more violent, Jeff's paranoia intensifies exponentially, and Marcy shaves her legs and has sex. Then, Cabin Fever careens to a stop, and then starts again, only to stumble towards its mediocre ending. It also doesn't help that most of the actors (mostly unknowns as usual) do not have much of a screen presence, except for the fact that DeBello gets extremely annoying quickly and Vincent is well endowed. She provides the necessary nudity, which is actually less than she did in Not Another Teen Movie where she played a naked student. Cabin Fever does at least do things a little differently than every other horror film, and although it ends the same way, it does merit some attention.

Haro Rates It: Okay.
1 hour, 34 minutes, Rated R for strong violence and gore, sexuality, language, and brief drug use.

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