By Alan Cho
There are those of you who will see Cabin Fever, regardless of this review, because this is the movie you’ve been waiting for. You know who you are. You tried to sit through Jeepers Creepers 2 and Jason X for your fix, but they just agitated you. You masturbate furiously over every gore-splashed shot of Romeros and know, in your heart of hearts, that Carpenters’ Michael Myers could make Freddy and Jason cry. “This is the horror movie that will usher in a new golden age for horror cinema,” you proclaim, licking the perspiration condensing on your Coke-stained lips.
If you’re one of these people, then Cabin Fever may very well be the second coming, but as a movie it just doesn’t work.
The story should be familiar to anybody who was once 12 and attended a sleepover party where you watched the B-grade horror schlock lurking on television after midnight.
Five college students rent a cabin for a weekend of booze, weed and sex. Their names aren’t really important, thus characters shall be referred to by their stock type: the fat frat guy (James DeBello), the slut with the heart of gold (Cerina Vincent), prissy rich guy (Joey Kern), the friend-everybody-wants-to-fuck (Jordan Ladd) and the failed TV sitcom star (Boy Meets World’s Rider Strong). A hermit, infected with a mysterious virus that causes copious vomiting of blood and dissolving of skin, puts a damper on the gang’s whole party. Tensions rise as each person succumbs to the virus, opportunity for escape grows smaller and things, to put it mildly, don’t end well.
Director/writer Eli Roth is an obvious fan of horror movies from the ’70s and early ’80s, washing the film in rich sepia tones and filling it to the brim with homage after homage. Cabin Fever starts off well, with ominous sounding strings and the constant buzzing of flies accompanying the title cards that bleed amber. It’s moody and evocative, which is the only time the movie ever is.
Most of the time, it’s an ambivalent mess full of awkward rhythms. Roth has structured his narrative as a B-horror movie becoming self-aware.
It sounds brilliant in theory, but in practice it doesn’t quite work. Cabin Fever is a bit slow on the uptake, happily wallowing in the crap dialogue and thin characters prerequisite for substandard B-horror movies before growing into a smarter and more self-aware comedy. Roth veers jerkily from one to the other, before the movie settles into a comfortable rhythm that works. Too bad it happens with only 15 minutes left in the movie.
That’s what happens when you want your brains and eat them too, you get an uneven mess.
Cabin Fever is being marketed as the Blair Witch Project for the twenty-first century, instead of the lukewarm B-horror comedy it really is. Those looking for actual chills and thrills should seek them elsewhere. Those of you who watch horror movies through your fingers, why do you go see horror movies? You’re an obviously sick person. For the rest of you who need their hit, the gore and the nudity is all there. Go and get your fix, the rest of us will keep waiting.