Lacking a Strong Fever
"Cabin Fever" is another one of those horror movies which somehow has become fairly popular amongst young horror fans, not quite reaching cult status but garnering more praise than maybe it deserves. It's mostly down to it being an Eli Roth horror, the man who also gave us in my opinion the less than impressive "Hostel" a few years later and so as is often the case the name makes the movie more than the movie does. So you've probably guessed by those opening statements that I am less than impressed with "Cabin Fever" seeing it as a poor homage to classic horror but failing to do the job properly.
Five college friends head off to an isolated log cabin in the midst of the woods for a week of fun, sex and dope smoking. But their planned week of teenage fun is spoilt when one night a strange man infected with some disease knocks on their door and in the midst of the panic they set him on fire. Racked with guilt the teenagers are unaware that the man has ended up in the local reservoir causing their water supply to become contaminated with the skin eating infection.
"Cabin Fever" takes on the styling of your typical slasher movie; we have a small group of teenagers seconded away in an isolated building set on a week of sexual fun and dope smoking. Add to this you have the stranger than strange locals and a variety of acts of teenage stupidity, all of which makes it generic and the location of a log cabin really doesn't make it any different to what has been done before. Of course it's not that straight forward and instead of having some deranged lunatic run wild in the woods decapitating teenagers with a chainsaw we have the poor infected bloke who ends up infecting them with a flesh eating virus. It may be a twist on what you would expect but not a great one, in fact rather a disappointing one as watching teenagers get massacred would have delivered some sort of adrenalin and action, which sadly "Cabin Fever" is distinctly lacking.
Whilst being basically a contamination movie doesn't help matters in the fact that at times it feels quite cheap. Some of the make up used to make it look like these poor teenagers are infected is so terrible that I found myself laughing for the wrong reasons. But it is the employment of comedy and horror stereotypes where it really struggles, creepy stories round the camp fire do nothing to generate the intended tension and often the dark humour passes you by because it's off beat with the rest of the movie.
That's probably the biggest problem with "Cabin Fever" it just doesn't deliver the scares it should even though it delivers moments designed for that exact purpose. It lacks the tension, suspense and atmosphere to get you on the edge of your seat gripped in anticipation. Instead you have nonsense scenes which fail to be anything rather than act as filler in between the occasional peppering of occasional shocks.
I wish I could say that the faults end there but sadly they don't and the characters lead too many more issues, especially as they are all so cliche. You have the couple who are there to bonk like the proverbial bunnies, the nice guy who is desperate to get it on with his best friend except she doesn't feel the same way and then the odd man out, the juvenile one who looks like he has had one too many spliffs. The characters are all too familiar and the performances add nothing too make them feel any different most notably Rider Strong who playing the supposedly nice guy of the bunch Paul is just too weak to make the character believable.
Finally and adding to more viewing misery for myself is that there is too much cliche going on. I suppose things such as their car getting ruined, mobile phones not getting a signal or the strange locals are all expected but it just makes "Cabin Fever" feel generic. It wouldn't be so bad if it had something unique to add to the blend of unoriginal elements or managed to deliver a twist on these familiar themes but it doesn't it takes them as they are. As I said at the start it pays homage to many classic horrors by including these elements and themes but then that's all it does, it never really uses them to their full potential to make it any different.
What this all boils down to is that "Cabin Fever" was a disappointment for me because it was all too run of the mill. It fails to really generate the atmosphere, the feeling of desperation or isolation that you would expect from a horror set in a cabin in the midst of nowhere and so when shocks are thrown at you they lack the impact. It also doesn't help that it all feels rather cheap and seriously cliche with an overall sense of too much familiarity. It is again that the name attached to the movie, in this case Eli Roth, which has helped to make the movie more popular than in my opinion it deserves.