a critiQal film review Cabin Fever (2003)

Plot: 5 friends are all set for their vacation to a small cabin in the woods for a week to celebrate the end of their year at college. A mysterious stranger, suffering from some unknown disease, shows up and they quickly drive him off. Unknown to them, he stumbles down to the reservoir, and dies...effectively poisoning their water supply. Now, every drink of water they take could be their last...and they don’t even know it.

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  • ...while the film has the makings of a good horror film (a quick pace and a decent storyline), it's ultimately brought down by cardboard secondary characters and too many unanswered questions.

I remember seeing a preview for Cabin Fever back when it was in the theaters, along with another film, House of the Dead (2003). On my weekly trip to Blockbuster®, I noticed that both films were now on DVD, so decided to have myself a horror weekend.

I started with Cabin Fever, since it seemed (from the preview at least) to be more than just another hack-and-slash feature, and seemed it might have a bit of originality to it.

The characters all performed well enough. The actors don’t really need to spend much time acting normally, as their world gets turned upside down rather quickly. The audience doesn’t really get a lot of time to get to know the characters, but that’s okay, since the actors (and writing) don’t really shine until stuff starts to happen.

Both the script, and the actors, don’t seem to be much for small talk, and seem quite strained in the beginning of the film trying to act normally. But both the script and the actors do manage to surprise you. All the main characters are unique, even if the surface of the characters is barely scratched.

The actors do a great job of reacting differently to each circumstance that arises, which seems rather unique for a horror film. Not every girl runs screaming, and not every guy stands up to the horror they face. It’s a nice change for a horror film. Every character acts uniquely, and part of the reason the viewer will keep watching is because the characters aren’t very predictable for most of the film – the main characters, anyway.

The secondary characters are nothing more than cardboard cutouts, and seem to be mainly in the film in order to toss in a little more violence and gore into the picture.

The plot of Cabin Fever is decently put together, even though it doesn’t seem to tie up all the loose ends by the end of the film. One major loose end is the viewer is never told or shown where this disease came from.

Maybe it’s just my personal experience with horror films, but in certain scenes of the film, you’re sure the characters will discover the original cause of the disease…but they never do. It’s a bit of a disappointment.

The introduction of one of the characters is a bit off-the-wall as well, and you’re never sure where he came from, or why he ended up where he did, either. The writing of the film makes up for these small oddities, however, since (as mentioned above) the characters all react differently to what they are facing, and definitely create an element of surprise for the viewer.

Special effects. What blood and gore film would be plausible without decent effects? Cabin Fever, definitely in the blood and gore category of horror, makes each of the numerous bloody scenes very realistic…almost too realistic. By the end of the film, the viewer might be a little nauseous, so don’t try eating while watching this film.

They also have created a variety of ways for these effects to be used, from the disease to a dog mauling to death by screwdriver, which helps to create a more interesting film. After all, viewers love variety! They do go a bit over the top with the gore, and might have produced a film that would hold up under multiple viewings by reducing the gore effect just a bit.

With good pacing, a quick pace that grabs the viewer almost from the beginning, a decent storyline and uniquely individual main characters, Cabin Fever starts to sound like a must own horror film (which doesn’t come along that often, unfortunately).

But, add in the loose ends that are never tied up, the cardboard-like secondary characters and just a bit too much gore, and you end up with a Cabin Fever that is good for one viewing…and that’s about it. A decent try…but not worth owning.

Rent this one if you’re in for a gory horror flick…and definitely don’t eat while watching it.

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