Movie Review
Cabin Fever
Cabin Fever poster
By Greg Ward     Published September 14, 2003
US Release: September 12, 2003

Directed by: Eli Roth
Starring: Jordan Ladd , Rider Strong , James DeBello , Cerina Vincent

Running Time: 94 minutes
Domestic Box Office: $21,156,000
While enjoyable at times, [it] offers nothing new to the horror film genre
When I think of a truly scary movie, I think of a film that gives me shivers and keeps me up at night, such as "Psycho" and "Halloween."

Since then, many horror films have reduced themselves to including stupid teenagers who continually do preposterous things to further trouble themselves while they are being chased by a masked killer or someone or something resembling a "killing machine."
"Cabin Fever," the debut feature from 31-year-old director Eli Roth, is no different, with the exception of a deadly virus replacing the killer. Even though the film has some promising moments (as well as a delightfully heavy amount of gore), it fails to live up to the buzz it received from the Toronto Film Festival. It ends up being another typical horror film that, while enjoyable at times, offers nothing new to the horror film genre.

It begins with five students who have finished their college exams and are headed off to a cabin in the woods for a week of sex and drinking. We have Paul (Rider Strong), a seemingly lonely yet somewhat of a pretty boy who longs for the affection of Karen (Jordan Ladd), a beautiful blonde; the immensely horny couple consisting of Jeff (Joey Kern) and Marcy (Cerina Vincent), who proceed in having intercourse almost right away; and, finally, the big dope of the group, Bert (James Debello), so idiotic that he goes off to shoot squirrels when the group arrives at the cabin.

When Bert is shooting at squirrels, he spots a hermit (Arie Verveen) whose face is bloody, his skin peeling off. Utterly terrified, Bert shoots at the man. Later that night, the hermit returns to the cabin, eventually causing a ruckus that turns out for the worst. Pretty soon, Karen obtains the nasty virus that the hermit possessed, resulting in the rest of the kids locking her up in a small shed, having no idea what to do. Eventually, the kids begin to turn against each other as the virus spreads, and there is nothing the kids can really do about it but let the symptoms worsen.

As you can see, the premise is original and promising, but it doesn?t take off like it should. First of all, in order for a horror film to be successful, the build-up to the gruesome events about to occur must be suspenseful. Unfortunately, the pre-mayhem events here are somewhat dull, with an opening sequence that is nowhere near as creepy as others are saying (despite the sounds of flies buzzing). And what is with the boy outside the store who bites? To me, this makes absolutely no sense at all.

What this film does have going for it is the acting. I must admit that a lot of the acting is pretty solid, especially since most acting in films like these are emotionless and unbelievable. While most of the performances are pretty decent, it is Jordan Ladd as Karen who sticks out in my mind. James Debello is also satisfying, providing a little bit of oomph to the always-lovable movie doofus. The rest of the group (Rider Strong, Cerina Vincent, and Joey Kern) provide a sense of how truly scary it is to be trapped in the woods, possessing a deadly virus they can?t get rid of.

I am not saying that this is a bad film ? if you are just looking for 90 minutes of blood and gore that you?ll forget in less than a month, this is the film for you. In my case, I expected more, judging from a creepy trailer and the positive buzz generated from reviews online. While the premise is different, the film doesn?t emphasize on how creative it can really be.

Cabin Fever had a chance at leaving a lasting effect by scaring us enough to keep us out of the woods. Instead of ending the film in a way that would further elaborate on the few chilling moments the film possesses, it goes out with a humorous twist, which doesn?t really work in a film like this.
Greg's Grade: C+
Greg's Overall Grading: 25 graded movies
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'Cabin Fever' Articles
  • Lee's review B-
    September 14, 2003    We finally have a teen horror film that is actually creepy, enjoyable, and even (intentionally) funny -- Lee Tistaert