CABIN FEVER (2002)
(Clicking the highlighted links brings you to corresponding reviews and articles here at The Movie Madhouse!)
Cabin Fever has some very effective moments, especially when the gore starts flying, but it’s writer/director Eli Roth’s insistence on filling his influence-drenched horror with sub-par, frat boy humor that sinks his first film (and sunk Hostel, too). The film opens with a group of annoying college kids heading up to a small secluded cabin in the woods, that is, of course, near a town filled with bizarre rednecks. The characters are fairly two dimensional co-ed stereotypes and the rednecks are weird just for the sake of being weird. Only Cerina Vincent’s Marcy shows a bit of brains and spunk, but sadly she is not the central character, it’s Rider Strong’s annoying, Paul. These kids unfortunately encounter a hobo with some kind of flesh eating disease, whose origin is never explained…though, it’s hinted the townsfolk have encountered it before…and soon red blotches and rampant paranoia fill the cabin.
It takes a while for things to get rolling, but the film is most effective when it does. But even once it gets moving, Roth stops momentum dead to have more cartoonish antics from the strange locals. He would have been better off sticking with the kids in the cabin, but is far too giddy to involve the twisted inhabitants of this backwoods community and the goofiness of their comic antics is too broad to work with the more serious aspects of the story. And his story is good, but Roth seems more interested in his frat house comedy than he is with scaring us and it’s a shame, as when he is effective, the film is chilling. Add to that some ‘stick out like a sore thumb’ homages to a few horror classics and not one but two cameos from Roth himself, and you get a flick that is more filmmaker self-indulgence than it is a horror movie.
Roth seems to have a genuine love of horror flicks and to be honest, I think the guy is pretty cool on that level, but as a filmmaker, he is a little too in love with the movies he cherishes to do his own thing. Which is sad cause when he does, Roth delivers, but in this and in his two Hostel films, his lack of restraint on his inner film geek ruins the part of him that is an effective filmmaker. Maybe that’s why he chooses to produce and do cameos for his filmmaker friends more than direct. 2005 was his last full length directorial effort (Hostel 2) until the recent Green Inferno which itself seems to be having problems getting released. Either way, I give him credit for recognizing a more efficient application of his horror movie passions.
2 and 1/2 pancakes.