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2002, dir. Eli Roth
94 min. Rated R.
Starring: Rider Strong, Jordan Ladd, James DeBello, Cerina Vincent.

Review by Brodie James

I'm pretty sure that when Eli Roth set out to make CABIN FEVER, he was intending on it becoming a cult classic. With no delusions that it would be a huge box office hit, he was laying most of his duckets down on the fact that this flick would rake in healthy DVD sales and rentals. So far, from what I gather, he's successfully achieving his goal.

I bought the DVD without seeing the movie. This is a common practice for me when horror films are involved. Usually, I can watch any horror film and be satisfied by what I see. And, being the horror nut that I am, I have this overwhelming desire to own every single film of that genre on DVD when it becomes available. So, without giving much of a shizzle while the film was playing on the big screen, I knew that when it finally hit DVD, it was most likely going to find its way into my ever-growing collection.

To say that I am disappointed with the film isn't fair, because I am, but then I'm not. As I watched CABIN FEVER, I could see the care taken by its Captain, and the genuine love he had for the genre. It is those intangibles that draw me into the film, and allow my heart to open up enough to accept it. Yet, I still have reservations.

With extremely weak dialogue, poor acting, plot holes galore, and a first act that drags on like a legless zombie in your local mall, it is very difficult for this retarded film lover to greet FEVER and it's mack daddy with open arms.

Obviously trying to pay homage to some of his favorite horror films in cinema's past, why would Roth feel it necessary to rittle the already weak verbage with an overbearing amount of colorful language? I mean, sure, sometimes the F & S Bombs are necessary to help convey a kind of extreme distress or fear, but these kids are so free with their seedy language it almost puts the trio from THE BLAIRWITCH PROJECT to shame! And, if you remember some of the negative press after BLAIR's opening weekend, one of the biggest turn-offs was the over abundance of curse words. All one needs to do to see my point is watch the first ten minutes of this flick, in which you'll pay witness to a red hot Cerina Vincent cursing away at a child. A scene I'm sure meant for laughs wasn't. It was the pointlessness of the scene that made it unfunny.

That was another thing about this film that ate away at my flesh: the poor attempts at humor and camp. From nerdy bicycle police to harmonica swallowing, it is this reviewer's opinion that the alleged "funny moments" of CABIN FEVER are in fact the most HORRIBLE TO WATCH! Eli Roth might know how to set a tone, but the man has NO sense of comedic timing. There is further evidence of this under the bonus features on the DVD. Honestly, is there anything unfunnier than those little ROTTEN FRUIT clips? SPIKE & MIKE worthy? Sure. But, if you've ever seen one of those traveling animation circus', you'll know that ninety percent of what they show is perverted crap anyway, created by people just as comedically challenged as Roth.

The biggest irk about CABIN FEVER, however, is the casting of the "Boy Meets World" sidekick, Ryder Strong. Ryder Strong. RYDER FUCKING STRONG! What were they thinking? I haven't seen a horror lead more effeminate since I saw Prince prance his way through PURPLE RAIN! He's not believable as a badass, which is what you're supposed to believe as the picture winds down. He does, however, play a perfect deserving a quick decapitation near the beginning of the film. No such luck, though.

Despite these obvious flaws, CABIN FEVER does have perks. As I mentioned earlier, Roth definitely knows how to set a tone. The camera work and washed out colors help lend to this film an eeriness that other films of its ilk (WRONG TURN, JEEPERS CREEPERS, etc.) lack. The care Roth took in setting this up earns him a few brownie points in my little horror cookbook.

The monster of the film is also an interesting twist that I found intriguing, because the monster isn't a monster at all, but rather a flesh eating disease. While Hollywood has been inundating us with disfigured, cannibalistic rednecks; flying moth creatures; and, spoof flicks; the idea of having something as intangible as a disease is a welcome change.

Overall, CABIN FEVER is a just below-average horror flick. While I enjoyed Roth's visuals and tone, the actors are grating, and the plot twists are laughable. With what could have been a really good flick, because of lazy storytelling, most of it falls flat.

The only thing that could maybe bump this film up to a straight up average rating are the beautiful titty shots of Cerina Vincent as she gets down with two different dudes. Those scenes alone are masterpieces. If only the entire movie just had Cerina running around naked, I'm convinced this would definitely be the epitome of a five star film.

Eli Roth shows he has promise with this film. Let's just hope it's all up hill from here.

And Eli, don't make it obvious you're "trying" to make a cult classic. That only works against you. Cult classics are almost ALWAY unintentional. So, just make good movies and let the fans do the rest. It'll come out better in the end.

The work of Brodie James can also be found on his very own website, Living Corpse.


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