#238 -- Cabin Fever (2002)

Rating: 4 / 5
Director: Eli Roth

I'm starting to really like Eli Roth. I didn't even know who he was until I saw Inglorius Basterds, but then I thought he was someone else. Now that I know him, I'm starting to realize that he's pretty awesome. He's made some pretty great horror movies, like Hostel 1 and 2, and of course, Cabin Fever. Not only has he created good horror movies, but he's a funny guy. He never fails to make me laugh.

"Cabin fever" is what happens when someone is locked up, or isolated, for a long period of time. They become antsy, bored, depressed, and maybe even crazy. It happened to me a couple of years ago when we got snowed in. I was going insane, not being able to do anything but sit around all the time. I ended up walking to the gas station--on terrible ice--two different times just to get out of the house. But in the movie, they take that temporary mental disorder and turn it into an actual sickness. Which is pretty cool.

So here's what happens. A group of friends--Paul (Rider Strong from Boy Meets World), Bert (James Debello, Dorm Daze), Karen (Jordan Ladd, Club Dread), Marcy (Cerina Vincent), and Jeff (Joey Kern)--go to a cabin for a little bit of rest and relaxation, and possibly some beer and sex if the mood strikes (which, of course, it does). They don't have a whole lot of time for relaxation OR partying, though, because the party is crashed by a crazy hermit. We first meet him when Bert, thinking he's a squirrel (whether he's just that stupid or that drunk, I'm not sure), shoots him. The man is very sick, and Bert is afraid of him, so he just leaves him in the ditch and says nothing. But the man shows up at the cabin later, begging for help, because it's obvious that he needs medial attention. A few of the kids want to help him, but a few others are terrified of contracting whatever disease he is carrying. The man gets a little rough, tries to break into the cabin, and a fight breaks out. They beat him with bats before lighting him on fire. He staggers away, only to fall dead into the lake. The shitty thing is, the cabin's water supply comes from the lake. So that dead guy floating around in there is contaminating their water. The friends know nothing about this, of course, so there's no way for them to know that they killed him for no reason--because they're all going to catch the "fever" anyways.

The first to get it is Karen, which sucks because there was a relationship blooming between her and Paul. But this ain't no chick flick, so I can't take points away for that. Since the fight with the hermit destroyed their car, they have no way of getting to a hospital or anything, so they just lock her in the shed so they don't catch it. She's left in there to rot, and meanwhile, they're all still catching it anyways. As a viewer, we know everything that's going on, so it's easy for us to call them stupid for not seeing it sooner; but, really, how were they to know?

A couple of the friends find neighbors, but they are absolutely no help at all. One is a crazy hillbilly lady (who happens to be the cousin of the hermit they killed), so they're terrified that she's going to gut them like that pig hanging in her barn. The other mistakes Paul's presence (he thinks he's a peeping tom) and kicks him off his property. Bert eventually does get the car to start (magic?) and gets back to town. But he gets bitten by a crazy kid named Dennis, Dennis's father gets  pissed at him for giving his son his disease, and he and his redneck friends chase Bert back to the cabin. So...No cell reception, broken down car, unhelpful neighbors, an incompetent police force, and crazy hillbillies. Sounds like a typical horror movie, right? That's because it is, but oh well.

There are a couple of things at the end that confused me (like, why Paul sees a giant rabbit at the hospital, I'll never know; maybe hallucinations due to the cabin fever?), but it picks up and everything makes sense at the very end.

So, here's what I like about the movie. What drew me to it when I saw it years ago was Rider Strong. Maybe it's a little lame, but I've always been a big fan of Boy Meets World, and I always loved him on the show. It was weird seeing him in this situation, and being all naughty and whatnot, but I thought it was great. I also really loved Eli Roth's small role. He was a strange pot-smoking camper that the friends met briefly, and he was hilarious. He was found by one of the friends later on, and he did not look pretty at all. It was wonderfully gruesome. That brings me to the effects; they were pretty impressive. There was a scene where Marcy was shaving her legs, and her skin was coming off with her razor, which was also wonderfully gruesome. That, plus Eli Roth's dead body, and a girl with half her face missing, and this gore whore is pretty happy.

Cabin Fever takes something we know and are familiar with (I'm talking about both the phrase cabin fever, and camp-based horror movies in general) and switches it up on us a little bit, which I like. Though I love seeing maniacs chasing dumb teenagers through the woods (who would'a thunk, right?), it's nice to see something different happen out in the wilderness. A little tidbit of trivia: the events in the movie were actually based on Eli Roth's life experiences; he got a skin disease somewhere in Iceland, and he also suffers from psoriasis, so he knows a little something about weird things happening with his skin. He knows his shit, that's why it's good. It also makes the movie more disturbing, knowing that things like that can actually happen to you.

Overall, I really enjoyed the movie, both times that I've seen it. It's gory, it's interesting, and it's funny thanks to Mr. Roth. And we get to see Shawn not being Shawn for a change, so that's a big plus.

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