Monday, October 12, 2009

HORROR EPICS: Cabin Fever (2002)

What’s great about not following popular culture very closely is being able to approach it with few (if any) preconceived notions. In this case, I’m talking about director Eli Roth and Cabin Fever, his first feature-length film. An easy way to sum up this movie is comparing it to The Evil Dead meeting one of David Cronenberg’s biological nightmare stories. The SARS and flesh-eating bacteria scares were a hot item in the media around the time Cabin Fever was released, and the story seeks to exploit those fears. Five relatively unlikable college students celebrate graduation by renting a log cabin deep in the woods to give them a secluded place to party and screw around. Your bases are covered. Is there a rich preppy guy who will never have a problem getting ahead? Check. Does he have a really hot girlfriend in form-fitting shirts? Since it’s Cerina Vincent, who was apparently naked for the duration of Not Another Teen Movie (which just became a must-see with that info), I’d say Check, like nobody’s business. How about a nice, naïve girl who wouldn’t know the Big Bad Wolf if he put roofies in her drink? Check. And a guy who could’ve won her hand years ago if he had more self-confidence? Check. Last but not least, what about the drunken douche bag mentally stuck in a state of perpetual adolescence? Check. They’re all appropriately conventional enough so we can all relate to them when Things Go Wrong. Well, we at Horror Epics disagree. We always make clear our sentiments towards the out-of-place city dweller’s continual insistence on imposing their erudite urban ways upon decent rural folk. Therefore, we care not one iota when these twenty-somethings become infected with some nasty disease that slowly rots away at their flesh. Okay, that’s not entirely true…we care when the Hot Girl gets it while shaving her legs in the bathtub, and you will too. However, the locals don’t care at all, unless the disease infects one of their own. Had these flesh-eaten college kids made more of an effort to get along in the first place, things might be different. But they didn’t, so the townspeople go about trying to erase the evidence and prevent further spread of the disease instead. Cabin Fever has problems figuring out what direction to go in. It often can’t decide if it wants to make a moral statement (it does), be funny (it isn’t), or a satire (obviously). When Cabin Fever sticks to ‘80s-style horror, it’s a good story and a well-done movie that is worth watching. Of course, it also helps if you have a thing for this kind of tale in the first place.

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