Cabin Fever
directed by Eli Roth
(Lions Gate, 2002)

Five college students decide to spend their first weeks of summer vacation at a remote cabin in the woods -- a bad idea from the start, as they'd know if they'd ever watched a single horror movie in their lives. It's hard to like most of the students anyway, so it's hard to feel much sympathy when the guy with oozing and rotting skin wanders into their campsite -- especially considering that one of the kids shot him in the leg, thinking him a "gay" squirrel.

So I guess it serves them right that he wanders away again (after they beat him up and set him on fire) and finally drops dead in the local reservoir, just inches away from the pipe that leads directly to the cabin's drinking supply.

This movie is not for anyone who's looking for a strong plot, credible logic, sensible decisions or good acting. It is, however, for anyone who likes gore. Gore is served up in buckets -- almost literally, mind you -- as skins peels and bubbles and scabs, blood flows and spatters, panicked people do violent and panicky things to each other, and a dog snacks messily on one or two of the stars, up to and including eating a girl's lips.

The locals are "colorful," to be polite, and deserve mention if for no other reason than their inexplicable oddness.

I'd mention any standout performances if there were any of note, but overall the acting is uniformly mediocre (except for a party-hearty member of local law enforcement, who was really, really bad). Kudos to tbe boys in props and makeup, however, for creating some very convincing skin problems. Director Eli Roth deserves mention, too -- not for his direction, mind you, nor for his cameo appearance as a local stoner, but for seemingly having so much fun making the film. He, the cast and crew seemed rather like kids hosting their own haunted house -- the quality was questionable, but they had fun doing it.

If you rent it anyway, be sure to check out the trio of Rotten Fruit animated shorts under special features. They've nothing to do with the movie, but they're a lot of quirky fun -- and you, too, may wonder exactly what that banana is doing. Another special feature worth at least one chuckle is the Chick-Vision version of the film, with hands blocking out the more gruesome scenes for squeamish viewers whose own hands are otherwise occupied.

by Tom Knapp
7 October 2006

Buy it from