I’m not sure what I was expecting out of Eli Roth’s 2002 horror film Cabin Fever. After years of being told how great it was and that it was a must see, I felt rather disappointed and let down by the experience. It might just be that I’m not a fan of Eli Roth’s work as a director as I’m not a fan of the Hostel films, while I do love him in Inglorious Basterds. Cabin Fever just felt to… fake. The idea of a flesh-eating virus infecting a group young college students on vacation in a creepy cabin sounds awesome and by all rights should be. But the actions of the characters are too far fetched and outlandish to make for a real sense of horror.
Cabin Fever is pretty straight forward, five friends, Paul (Rider Strong), Karen (Jordan Ladd), Bert (James DeBello), Jeff (Joey Kern) and his girlfriend Marcy (Cerina Vincent) head to a secluded cabin for standard spring break shenanigans. Their first night at the cabin, Bert encounters Henry (Arie Verveen), a local hermit who’s infected with a fleshing eating virus. Henry begs Bert for help, even after Bert shoots him in the leg. Though Bert eventually chases Henry off. That night Henry returns, this time seen by the others. Henry’s condition has worsened and the group conflicted about how or even if to help, only move into action when Henry tries to drive off in their truck. Puking blood all over it in the process. After the truck is ruined and undriveable, they set accidentally set Henry on fire. Who flees screaming into the woods. The next day they set off to look for the hermit and for help, with the only person they find being the Henry’s cousin. So they leave before they’re able to get help out of fear of being discovered. Back at the cabin we, the viewers learn that Henry has died in the reservoir and is infecting the cabin’s drinking water. Paul meets with local police deputy Wilson (Giuseppe Andrews), a buffoon who promises to send a tow truck. Later while Paul gives Karen, who he’s been carrying a torch for since they were little, a glass of water while consoling her over about the events of the weekend. Needless to say she gets sick, and quickly. Which throws the rest of the group into a panic and they move Karen into the shed. But that does little to stop the spread…
This movie was actually painful to get through at points. This is mainly due to just how stupid the characters act. From the college students, to the cops and even the kids dad who bites a clearly sick person. Not a single person acts like an actual person. At best they’re caricatures at worst they’re insulting.
Actually that’s my only issue with this film. Wait, no. One other thing, but Spoiler. At the end of the film when Jeff stands triumphant that he alone has survived, uninfected and gets gunned down by the police. Then thrown on the infected pile and burned. Which feels like a rip-off Night of the Living Dead. Not a call back or an homage, but a straight rip off. Weakening an already weak film.
Other than that, not so bad. I really like the character Old Man Cadwell played by Robert Harris and is without at doubt the best part of this film. Without. A. Doubt.
Final thoughts, the gore effects range from OK, to laughable. I just found it really hard, next to impossible even to get past the stupidity of the characters. None of which function or act like people. Even people even under duress. How Cabin Fever has spawned not one, but two sequels and a remake baffles me. If you’re into schlock body horror, and don’t care about things like believable characters. Sure, maybe this film is for you. Otherwise, skip it. 4/10