Retro Review: CABIN FEVER (2002){0}

The Fever that started it all.

The Evil Dead. Halloween. Re-Animator. Dead/Alive. Dawn of the Dead. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Phantasm. All classics; all created by young filmmakers desperate to infuse some much-needed life into the perpetually stagnating genre of Balls to the Wall Horror. Not only is Eli Roth’s fantastic Cabin Fever inspired by all of these horror classics; it easily fits right alongside them and absolutely deserves the label of ‘new classic’. (Sure, ‘new classic’ is sort of an oxymoron, but you get the point.)

Every movie studio churns out horror flicks by the truckload. But if you consider mildly entertaining diversions like Jeepers Creepers and The Ring the best that horror can be, you’re probably better served by hanging out in the Comedy Section of your local video store. The true horror films almost always come from young filmmakers, the current crop weaned on the works of Romero, Carpenter and Craven, Hooper, Argento and Cronenberg – the ones who love horror films with a passion that borders on maniacal. And when these freaks get some backing for their flicks, the more timid element should simply get the hell out of the way.

Eli Roth’s sinfully entertaining Cabin Fever is destined to be mentioned in the same breath as the most beloved horror classics, and if it’s not – then I’m simply not doing my job. Unless you want your multiplexes packed to the rafters with Urban Legend 5: More Urban and I’m Still Somewhat Aware of What You Did Seven Summers Ago, I strongly suggest you check out Cabin Fever. Maybe more than once.

Respectfully borrowing themes and moments from some of the most memorable gore flicks of the past 25 years, Cabin Fever is a horror freak’s fondest wish; the sort of movie any self-respecting gorehound would conceive – assuming he had the money and talent to do so.

Five teens hit the woods for a private graduation party. Little do they know that a truly goopy skin disease is running rampant over the backwoods Texas burg. Suffice to say that they find out soon enough. To divulge much more would be a disservice to the film and its eventual audience, but I’ll just leave it at this: Cabin Fever is a deliriously unflinching and addictively entertaining horror flick, one that deftly balances moments of wet drippy gore with several necessary sequences of nasty dark humor.

In other words, it’s the sort of flick that serious horror freaks wait ages for – and then devour with palpable glee. Cabin Fever will not disappoint these people. (I should know; I’ve been one of ‘em for about thirty years.) The cast is surprisingly top-notch (with the standouts being the stunningly hot Cerina Vincent and hero-of-the-day Rider Strong), the makeup effects (courtesy of Greg Nicotero’s legendary crew) are wet, slick, slimy and wonderfully disgusting, the direction by first-timer Eli Roth belies a lifetime spent adoring the finest horror flicks under the sun, and the screenplay is laden with homages, references and familiar moments that are guaranteed to tickle even the most jaded horror aficionado.

– Scott Weinberg

Review originally published on Reprinted by permission from Scott Weinberg’s collection of modern horror movie reviews, available here (UK) and here (US).