Posted: 09/16/2003


Cabin Fever


by Gary Schultz

High praise for first time director Eli Roth’s scare fest.

Film Monthly Home
Wayne Case
Steve Anderson
The Rant
Short Takes (Archived)
Small Screen Monthly
Behind the Scenes
New on DVD
The Indies
Film Noir
Coming Soon
Now Playing
Books on Film
What's Hot at the Movies This Week
Interviews TV

Some could very easily consider Cabin Fever a bad movie, but for a cult fan its a beautiful, gory ride, taking unbalanced hormonal teenagers and subjecting them to various acts of self-inflected human cruelty. What we have here is new comer Eli Roths depiction of cabin horror, spoon feeding us graphic violence, sex, gore and bad one liners from relatively uninteresting main characters. Although this isn’t to say the characters don’t have their own glory moments.

The story starts with five college friends who rent a remote cabin in the woods to celebrate the end of their college life. After a brief encounter with the local towns freaky rednecks, the teenagers find the time to start the partying. While having some beers around the campfire they’re approached by a strange man with seriously scabbed corroded skin vomiting blood everywhere. Fearing infection themselves, they use any methods necessary to get rid of the infected man. Of course this is all too late. The result is their only vehicle is trashed and they are left at the cabin in the middle of nowhere with no transportation. Now things go from bad to worse as the same flesh-eating virus spreads among the friends. Paranoia sets in and the evil side of human nature forces them to turn against each other. Now the fun begins.

The cast consists of the lead Rider Strong (Boy Meets World), who went crazy a little quickly in the film, Jordan Ladd (Never Been Kissed), Joey Kern (Super Troopers, Grind) and Cerina Vincent (Not Another Teen Movie) who got naked in the first fifteen minutes of the movie. Most of the character’s early interactions were pretty stereotypical and felt kind of dumbed down, perhaps to appeal to a young crowd or they were just falling into the cult stereotype that we should expect from the genre. Most of these early scenes are stole by James De Bollo (Detroit Rock City) who played thick-headed Bert, who fears getting infected and gay squirrels. I would have loved to seen more of Giuseppe Andrews (Detroit Rock City) who played the off beat Deputy Winston who just wanted to party with under aged girls. The secondary characters really help to level the environment too. I loved the old, gay convenience store worker, the rednecks and Dennis the mullet boy. Oh and I’m pretty sure it was Eli Roth playing Grim the stoner with his super large pillow of weed and his dog who later would get infected and try to kill everybody.

Cabin Fever, especially for a first horror film is well made and beautifully photographed. Eli has a strong knowledge of the genre; it’s stereotypes and how to deliver something that is true to the horror/dark comedy genre, which is often categorized as the “cult genre.” This however is also the Fever’s problem because moviegoers that don’t have a previous love for, or knowledge of the cult genre probably won’t get the homage’s and stereotypes. So for some it’ll probably fall into the ‘bad’ movie category. My first attempt to see Cabin Fever was sold out. During my second attempt two people in front of me got up and exited with a half hour left of the film. For myself, a horror fan that appreciates all aspects of the genre, I enjoyed Cabin Fever very much. Paying respect to films like The Hills Have Eyes andm of coursem The Evil Dead, Cabin Fever will no doubt become a part of the cult scene and probably enjoyed at drunken college dorm parties for years to come.

So to sum it all up here’s what we’ve learned: projectile blood vomit is a warning sign that you’re probably going to die. Shovels can be your friend. Not all dogs are friendly. If you’re gonna die anyway you might as well have sex and most importantly, “Don’t sit next to Dennis.” And if anyone can tell me what the hell is in the box referred to as “the kit” that the young, buzz cut redneck was carrying before he got a screwdriver in ear that would be great. Yes, I said screwdriver in the ear.

Gary Schultz is an indie filmmaker from Chicago. He works under an independent production company called Highertribe Productions and spends his days coordinating the Screenwriting Center for Columbia College.

Got a problem? E-mail us at