Exploitation Retrospect | The Journal of Junk Culture and Fringe Media
Cabin Fever (2003)
Lion's Gate Films | Review by Dan Taylor

When five friends decide to celebrate the end of the college school year by renting a remote cabin in the woods, savvy horror fans know to expect the worst. We've seen these trips before, ending in demonic possession and bodily dismemberment (the EVIL DEAD series), or the old "let's have sex and go skinny-dipping" plot device of the FRIDAY THE 13TH flicks.

CABIN FEVER, much to its credit, doesn't rest on the genre conventions that it uses to get the story kick-started: there's the isolated cabin, the horny couple that's in the sack before the motor of the jeep is cold, the "friends" who are inching closer to becoming something more, and the beer-swilling loner who's packing a bb gun so he can shoot squirrels. Why? "'Cause they're gay."

Add in the creepy townspeople that look like they're fresh from the casting call of the TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE remake and you've got yourself all the pieces for low-budget horror thanks to co-writer/director/producer Eli Roth.

To his credit, Roth uses these clichés to lull the audience into a false sense of security. While other flicks creep and gross us out with unstoppable boogeymen or demons, CABIN FEVER's killer is far more sinister: a virus of unknown origin that is infecting the animals – and now the people – in the woods.

There's no Indian burial ground or fallen space capsule. No escaped killers or visiting aliens on a hunt.

Nope, CABIN FEVER's villainous virus creeps up on the inhabitants of the cabin – and us – silently. Is it in the blood of the infected hermit? Maybe the weed from the creepy skater dude? The water supply? By the time the vacationers figure it out, they're too far gone to save themselves. And what happens next is a lesson in what lengths people will go to in order to survive.

Gore fans will be pleased to know that there's plenty of gross-out sequences in the flick, lots of spewing blood, bloody lesions, and sticky-sounding masses of blood that crop up at the most inappropriate times.

The flick also benefits greatly by featuring a cast that's largely unknown. Sure, some of us might recall star Rider Strong as "The Best Friend" in the abominable 'Boy Meets World' TV show, but that's not going to make you think, "Well, surely Rider Strong is going to make it."

It's also safe to say that the flick is easily stolen by Giuseppe Andrews, who pops up here and there as Deputy Winston. With his sparse moustache, baby face, bike helmet and "let's party" attitude, he's like a backwoods version of David Arquette's "Dewey" from the SCREAM films.

CABIN FEVER isn't going to make anybody forget startling horror flicks like NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, HALLOWEEN, THE EVIL DEAD or RE-ANIMATOR, but it's highly entertaining, genuinely funny, affectionate horror filmmaking at its finest.

Just don't sit next to Dennis.


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