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Cabin Fever
2003 - R - 94 Mins.
Director: Eli Roth
Producer: Brian Helgeland
Written By: Eli Roth and Randy Pearlstein
Starring: Rider Strong, Cerina Vincent, James Debello, Joey Kern
Review by: Joe Rickey
A small group of friends have decided that it was a good time for a week of R and R in a backwoods cabin. Once there, everything seems to be going just fine until one of them comes in contact with a man who seems to have contracted a flesh-eating virus. Soon they have the attention of a local deputy. Then the situation becomes even worse as a member of the group contracts the virus. Now they must keep themselves from contracting it while dealing with town locals who want them dead so that they don’t infect the surrounding area in Cabin Fever, a gory thriller directed by newcomer Eli Roth.

Director Eli Roth claims to have reinvented the horror genre with Cabin Fever and while I wouldn’t go that far, the film is still an entertaining foray into the genre. The film starts off rather slow, unlike most horror films, which like to grab the viewers’ attention during the first few moments. After a creative way of displaying the credits in which someone’s skin progressively gets redder and redder as it deteriorates, Cabin Fever spends a good amount of time developing the personalities of its main characters. During this time a number of jokes are cracked while the characters lounge around the cabin or tell frightening stories around a campfire.

The story told concerns a serial killer who takes the employees of bowling alley hostage and kills them off one by one as the others watch. Then the killer proceeds to chop them up and use their organs as bowling balls. This sequence is depicted by Roth with an off kilter visual style that allows the viewer to get a glimpse of what is occurring but doesn’t get overly grotesque. It is a very effective way of visual storytelling that comes into play in the main storyline once the flesh-eating virus enters the picture.
After the viewer has become comfortable with the characters and has even grown to like a few of them, their lives are put into danger by the virus. Director Roth goes all out in illustrating the disgusting traits of the virus. From bloodied faces, legs, and just about every body part you can think of, the virus sure does a number on the infected.

The film frequently uses the element of surprise to its gain as in a scene where a female is shaving her legs and suddenly realizes that her skin is peeling away every time she uses the razor. Also, a man is horrified when he picks up his dog and discovers that its body is no longer whole. The film also turns the expectations of viewers on their respective heads as in a scene that starts out as erotic and turns disgusting when it is discovered that there is a putrid liquid on someone’s leg.

The various actors all do fine for what they are given. As the main character, Rider Strong (Boy Meets World TV series) is effective in getting the viewer to care what happens to his character. As the film’s comic relief, James DeBello is funny without ever becoming grating. The various other cast members aren’t given as much material to work with but still give fine performances. The musical score by Angelo Badalamenti and Nathan Barr is very creepy and perhaps the best score for a thriller thus far this year.

Overall, Cabin Fever is not for the squeamish but for those that can handle it, the film is a creepy combination of a psychological thriller and a teen-aimed slasher film.

Movie Guru Rating
An excellent film.  Among the best in its Genre.  Worth seeing in the Theater. An excellent film.  Among the best in its Genre.  Worth seeing in the Theater. An excellent film.  Among the best in its Genre.  Worth seeing in the Theater. An excellent film.  Among the best in its Genre.  Worth seeing in the Theater.
  4 out of 5 stars

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