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Cabin Fever (2002)
Director: Eli Roth

review by Eric Turowski

I was very excited to see this film, as the hype promised a gore-filled return to horror flicks of the 1970s and 1980s, a la George Romero, Sam Raimi, Wes Craven, et al. Five college students venture into a secluded woodland cabin to party. Sounds familiar, already, right?
   Bert (James DeBello) gets drunk and goes out shooting squirrels. Recklessly, he plugs a transient guy wandering in the woods. He says nothing of it, but that night the transient returns to steal the students' truck. The kids bludgeon, stab, and set the thief on fire. Unfortunately, an extremely virulent flesh-eating virus has infected the transient, and he ends up in the local water supply. Water is apparently the vector for this disease. Karen (Jordan Ladd) is the first to drink the tainted brew (couldn't she see all those weird chunks in it?). She is soon quarantined in a shed behind the cabin, and her face rots off.
   From then on, you get sheer panic and a literal bloodbath, with Marcy (Cerina Vincent) getting far too close a shave on her legs. Friend turns on friend, lover turns on lover as the hapless kids succumb, either to the virus or to their fear of infection. This is all great stuff and the blood flows freely. But quicker than the five can fall victim to contagion, the story is lost like a bar of soap in a tub of blood. While the first half of this movie is tense (with occasional comic breaks), the remainder becomes surreal, uninteresting and stupid. I can't spoil it, because I didn't understand most of it, and by the time the film finished I felt like I'd been watching for hours. Not even my gorehound girlfriend bothered to stick around after the first 30 minutes. We're talking about a woman who sat with me all the way through Satan's Cheerleaders, whose favorite movie is Hellraiser - a sure indication of how terribly Cabin Fever goes awry.
   Also irritating is the cast of bizarre rural Americans. Sure, they're out there, and I've met a few (hell, I've been one). But they aren't interesting in real life, so I'm not sure why they keep showing up in horror films, outside of the mass-murdering types, anyway. Those characters were the ones I most wanted to see die horrible deaths. Of course, once this film chugged along for more than 90 minutes, I wanted them all dead. And the director, too.
   In spite of the nudity, in-jokes and references to directors and films in a similar vein, don't bother with this one, unless you're really just looking for blood and gore. There's plenty of that, and it's all well done. Go see Wrong Turn instead. At least there you'll find some moments of true horror flick suspense.
Cabin Fever

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