Eli Roth, writer and director of Cabin Fever, grew up in the 70's watching low budget teen horror flicks such as Halloween, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and Evil Dead. He grew up filming his family acting on Super 8 film in his home made horror films. Now he has made the most successful horror movie at the box office in 2003.
Sold to Lion's Gate after an intense biding war following its hugely successful premiere at the 2002 Toronto Film Festival, Cabin Fever is Roth's homage to the films he loved as a teenager. Five teenage buddies decide to chill out after their high school finals by driving to a remote cabin in the woods. Following a tense, strange exchange with the red neck hillbilly locals at the store:-
”What's the fox urine for?”
”What's the rifle for?”
-they head up to the cabin. After a long enough pause for some teenage rumpy-pumpy, beer drinking and squirrel shooting a knock at the cabin door reveals a hermit with a strange flesh-eating virus. One by one the friends become victims of the virus, and relationships become strained as their fear of the seemingly deadly condition grows. What follows is 90 minutes of the most gloriously gruesome, gory, and darkly humorous low budget horror I have seen this year.
Originality is not a high priority for Roth here. Consequently there are plenty of genre clichés from remote locations to witless, good looking teenagers to dentally challenged, educationally limited locals, Cabin Fever has it all. Cheesy dialogue is also the order of the day (“That man came here looking for help and we lit him on fire”) as is acting that would make a plank blush and many of the characters seem to have walked straight in off a David Lynch movie. Officer W would feel right at home in Twin Peaks. Still, the whole thing works. Roth's enthusiasm and affection for the genre, with a script and acting that is firmly tongue in cheek, combine to make the whole greater than the sum of its parts, allowing you to enjoy it because of its shortcomings rather than despite them. Roth is clearly a talent and I am sure will go on to bigger and better things. Remember this is the kind of flick Peter Jackson cut his movie making teeth on.
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