Cabin Fever

Director    Eli Roth
Starring    Rider Strong, Jordan Ladd, James DeBello
3 stars


12th September 2004

"This terrible, terrible trend started in American horror in the late nineties, where television actresses came over to horror films. They'd be fine and all, but when it came to doing a sex scene, they were like 'I'm not going to do it because I have a young audience.' So you got these neutered down, castrated pussy-ass horror films, where there's no blood, there's no guts and there's no tits. Who the fuck wants to see that?"

Thank the Lord, then, for one Eli Roth - a self-professed horror nut from the age of six, and judging by his efforts on Cabin Fever, the new figurehead for lo-fi horror flicks now that Peter Jackson's gone all Middle-Earth on us. He's right y'know - ever since Wes Craven decided the horror film wasn't being self-referential enough and diluted the genre with the (let's be honest) piss-weak Scream series, the average modern horror movie has spent far too much time throwing sly nods and winks to past masters when it should have been pushing the envelope itself. Enter Cabin Fever, one part Blair Witch, one part Deliverance and one part Evil Dead. Sounds like an intriguing combination, right?

You're probably thinking you've seen Cabin Fever before. A group of horny young teens, staying in a cabin in the woods, celebrating heartily and copulating promiscuously? That's old hat, my friend. But Eli Roth isn't out to re-write the rulebook, just to revisit classic horror staples of the seventies and eighties in a new environment. When confronted with a drifter who's looking somewhat a little under the weather, the group contract a mysterious flesh-eating virus that causes skin problems that even a heroic dose of Clearasil couldn't clear up. Cue buckets of blood, tons of gore and the kind of good old-fashioned violence that hasn't been seen since the days of Braindead and its contemporaries.

Using a largely unknown cast (except for the one from Boy Meets World who's not the brother of the one from The Wonder Years) and a particularly unlikeable set of characters, Cabin Fever wastes little time in dispensing with them and getting straight to the point. While the main group are generally a whiny, disagreeable bunch of people (just like most teens, then), there's lots of fun to be had with supporting characters, including the redneck store-owners, Deputy Winston ("you're the party man!") and a little lad called Dennis, who you definitely won't want to sit next to. Memorable moments like the 'pancakes incident' and the brilliant final scene ensure that there's a sardonic streak of deathly black humour running through Cabin Fever, but first-time director Roth never lets the humour encroach on the action, rather using it as a way to dispense the tension between scenes.

It's not original, it's not particularly big or clever and there's a couple of homophobic insults that don't sit too comfortably, but Cabin Fever is all about delivering gore by the bucketload, and it succeeds admirably in this respect. Take away the blood, the guts, the swearing and the nudity and you'd be left with a very average movie, but it's like Roth says - who the fuck would want to see that?

Follow us on Twitter @The_Shiznit for more fun features, film reviews and occasional commentary on what the best type of crisps are.
We are using Patreon to cover our hosting fees. So please consider chucking a few digital pennies our way by clicking on this link. Thanks!

Share This