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Cabin Fever (2002)

Cabin Fever (2002)

Writers: Eli Roth, Randy Pearlstein
Director: Eli Roth
Tagline: Cabin Fever... catch it

Full Review

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I spent a long time trying to decide if Cabin Fever was a very clever, ironic homage to the genre or simply a very, very bad movie. In the end I decided on the former, but it wasn't until the final scene that I was totally sure I was laughing with the film rather than at it.

The movie starts off rather unpromisingly. A group of obnoxious, brain-dead college grads set out for a holiday in a log cabin somewhere in the Back o'Beyond. The area where they are staying is inhabited by stereotypical local yokels whom they immediately antagonise. Oh, and the film has at least three blatant pieces of product placement in the first ten minutes.

Once the kids arrive at their cabin the story moves on according to time honoured traditions: sex, beer, arguments and eventually death. The script manages to incorporate just about every horror cliche imaginable including mysterious strangers who might or might not be homicidal maniacs, camp fire tales, pig slitting locals and creepy cops. There are also plot devices not just telegraphed but shouted through a megaphone.

It's when you start to realise that most of these horror motifs and plot devices are irrelevant that Cabin Fever starts to become fun. It's horror by the numbers but with the numbers writ large and amusingly jumbled up. Instead of grimacing at the cliches I began enjoying them (although the guy in the rabbit suit was perhaps a little too far over the top). References to other classics abound.

For me this was not a scary film. Unpleasant yes - blood and gore abounding - but not frightening. Any fan of horror films will recognise so much of this and take none of it seriously, least of all the unsympathetic and idiotic characters. On the other hand, if you've never seen a 1970's horror movie in your life then this is probably the only one you ever need bother with!

Some reviewers have tried to dress up the story with all sorts of clever motifs and symbolism, even AIDS. Forget it. This is a film without pretensions, it knows what it's doing and succeeds.

If you go into Cabin Fever expecting psychological thrills or subtlety then you'll probably be disappointed. If you treat it as a good piece of fun, preferably to be watched at home with a few mates and a six pack, then you could be in for a treat.

Just skip the pancakes.

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