Cabin Fever (2003)
Directed by Eli Roth

Starring Charee Cuthrell Hal Courtney James DeBello Richard Boone

2003 shaped up to be a great year for horror, thanks in part to this chilling first-time directing effort from Eli Roth. "Cabin Fever" exudes the same kind of fear and paranoia we remembered from 1970s horror films, and pays tribute to the classics every chance it gets.

If it wasn't for its mildly overlong ending, the film would be a real masterpiece. "Cabin Fever" is kinda the "Frailty" of 2003: A great film that could have been classic. While the similarities to "Last House on the Left," "Evil Dead" and the "Friday" franchise are all there, "Cabin Fever" mostly stands on its own two feet as a killer virus film and one that is genuinely well done. But fans going in expecting hardcore horror of the early Raimi/Craven/Cunningham variety are bound to be disappointed. Like "The Blair Witch Project," "Cabin Fever" was a controversial film, only because slasher horror fans didn't get what they wanted. But it's a damn fine film.

A group of college students head to a rented cabin in the woods for a week of partying. Instead of finding a "Book of the Dead" or running into a knife-wielding killer, they encounter a bloody, infected drifter, whom one of the teens accidentally shoots while hunting squirrels. When the drifter covers the inside of their truck with his own blood, the kids are unsure what to do: Tell the police the whole story of how they almost killed a man, or just try to get out of town? Adding to their troubles is the fact that the locals are your run-of-the-mill crazy hillbillies. Every time they attempt to get into contact with civilization, they either find themselves face-to-face with one of the drifter's own relatives or with a crazed redneck brandishing a shotgun. The teens also start to turn on one another as the illness starts infecting them.

Roth, whose previous cinematic experience was award-winning student film work, has crafted a film that builds up tension very, very nicely, until it builds into a crescendo during the movie's second half. An especially good moment has one of the desperate teens coming face to face with an insane, ninja-kicking child. This singular moment in "Cabin Fever" distinguishes Roth as a truly great young filmmaker, who no doubt is destined to go onto bigger and better films.

"Cabin Fever" disappointed some fans because the film hyped itself as the next "Evil Dead," when its only similarity to that film is the fact that its set in the woods and stars a bunch of college kids in extreme peril. At one point in the film, the kids are listening to "The Road Needs to Nowhere," the David Hess song played in "Last House on the Left." There are myriad other references to horror films throughout.

Like "Frailty," "Cabin Fever" falls a little flat with an overlong and convoluted ending. Where it triumphs the most is in its unpredictability. While it pays tribute to horror conventions, it refuses to follow formulas. You honestly don't know who is going to live and die in this film or when. Excellent make-up effects deliver the most painful shaving scene ever filmed, along with some gruesome disease scenes.

"Fever" was one of the best horrors of '03, and its box office success marked yet another upturn in the respect the genre saw that year from the big studio powers.

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-- Review by Lucius Gore


Posted by k+l on May 5, 2009
great movie!

Posted by Nancy on March 12, 2012
Hey Nick, thanks for nojniig the discussion. I'll admit that I had a heck of a hard time selecting just ten episodes (even though I cheated and really include eleven). I agree with everything you say about Homecoming and The Screwfly Solution. They're really great. Homecoming, seemed especially daring to me, and politically important, but mostly just fun to watch. My particular selection is no doubt subjective, but I also wanted to pick episodes that I think speak to the tone and tenor of the series as a whole. I think the series is trying to 1) make us all excited about horror again, 2) put old fashioned sex and gore back into horror, and 3) allow horror directors to really strut their stuff. I liked both of Dante's episodes, but in my opinion they didn't seem to capture the real essense of the series (they seemed more like really intelligent and well-made Twilight Zone episodes to me). And I don't think they're emblematic of Dante's best work. Not in the same way that, say, John Landis seemed to really hold nothing back with Family and Deer Woman. Again, this is all 100% subjective, and probably splitting hairs, as, really, the entire series was worth the price of a Showtime subscription.

Posted by Auth on March 12, 2012
Oh that is too funny. Cabin fever and it is only November!!! Maybe time to take a trip south and do some scuba diving? Could awlyas make a trip home and have a visit too .. we miss you lots!!Just a thought!!!

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