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"Cabin Fever"

Directed by Eli Roth.
Written by Eli Roth and Randy Pearlstein.
Starring Rider Strong and Jordan Ladd.
Release Year:  2003
Review Date:  10/20/03 


The run of horror films continues in the two-double-oh-three; man, I am sure I have never seen so many horror flicks in the course of one year.  This time around, my friend Cassie and I took in “Cabin Fever” because, well, we both love horror flicks and watching white folks kill each other in the backwoods of society for no good reason.

The plot is vague, perhaps intentionally:  a group of five college grads take off and head out for a week at a secluded cabin to hang out, drink beer, and “discover themselves”, which is in and of itself quite funny.  Problem is that they run into this guy that has a REALLY bad skin condition—so bad, in fact, that when he is accidentally killed and dumped into a local reservoir, he infects all of the local water, and as the residents of town and the kids in the cabin drink the water...well, needless to say, folks start goin’ off and dyin’!!

“Cabin Fever” has good scares and some decent laughs once folks start catchin’ the fever, but up to that point, the film is crazy-slow and very uninteresting.  We have the requisite parts for a film of this type, so there are hick locals, hot coeds that have sex for sex sake, frat guys and very questionable decision-making on the part of all involved when faced with dark tunnels.  The hicks in “Cabin Fever” are fantastic; they are hilariously stereotyped and by the time you get one kid dancing around in the street yelling out “Pancakes!” for no reason, man, it was all working for me.  There are some pretty sweet kills and even though the fever itself (and its origins) is oddly unexplained, I liked that about the film since it has a lack of resolution that leaves some of the story up for debate.  This will annoy some people (much like those who didn’t like NOT knowing what was in the briefcase in “Ronin”) but it works for a horror film where the focus is on everyone’s newfound instinct to try and not catch the fever.

I didn’t recognize a single face in the cast, which was fine for me; as low-budget as mainstream Hollywood films can be, I would imagine that this film had already made back its budget in just its first week of release.  The effects are fine, the blood and gore level is perfect, the music is spooky and that cabin sure does look isolated.  For a summer with a high body count, “Cabin Fever” has a death toll much lower than some of the other horror flicks this year, but this is made up for by some great kill scenes and that nasty skin condition seems to get nastier each time somebody gets the fever.  Solid.

“Cabin Fever” won’t do you wrong, and it does well in a theatrical environment; it’s not something that will be remembered even two years from now, but you can always do worse spending your movie at the movieplexes these days...

Rating:  Matinee


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Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
© 1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09