Cabin Fever (2002)

“That guy asked for our help. We lit him on fire!”

Kyle’s Rating: You can be better than you are (doo doo!): you could be swinging on a star!

Kyle’s Review: I was too busy with school and assorted activities to go see Cabin Fever when it was released in theaters. I figured I’d catch it eventually, but then I ran out of time and didn’t get around to it. Whatever. Sometimes I prefer watching crazy horror films on my own television, so I can cry and sob like a “little girl” when I get scared. It’s cool. Meanwhile, I read reviews and viewer responses on the internet, just to see what people thought.

Wow. For the most part, you’d think this was one of the worst films ever made. At a certain site that purports to be cooler than it is, the talkbackers were seriously trashing Cabin Fever and made it out to be practically the end of the horror genre, if not the world. They had gone and wasted money on a film populated with despicable characters in a very twisted and inappropriate cartoon version of reality, where bad stuff like murder and date rape and squirrel shooting happened and prejudicial and racist opinions were voiced and the flesh-eating disease was the hero of the picture, because all these disgruntled viewers wanted all the characters dead. Yikes! I sure was excited to see this movie… not.

But actually, I still was. Because a lot of the important reviewers out there (spend a little time and you can find them easily) really loved Cabin Fever despite its faults, and while there was still disagreement over whether or not it was a CLASSIC, they thought it was pretty awesome and worth seeing at least once, if not many many times. It wasn’t enough to get me into the theaters, especially once it was only playing like 30 minutes away and it was hard enough finding time to read Walden. It was enough to get me to rent Cabin Fever as soon as it was out, and Cabin Fever was good enough that I watched the rental copy twice and as soon as I finish this review I’m headed out to buy the movie. It’s that good, folks. I’ll send you the receipt, if you’d like!

I must warn you, however, that according to current statistical probability theory, Cabin Fever probably is not a film for you. It is very gruesome, in a “there’s blood everywhere” and “omigosh that ___ just split open and inside it looks like a red version of the goo inside those Cadbury eggs!” It is very inappropriate, in a “Those characters just used a racist slur! Those other characters throw around ‘gay’ in a ‘this is modern lingo’ way but it still seems homophobic!” way. It is very upsetting, in a “did that character just touch that girl without her consent, and oh no, actual nudity in a modern horror film!” way.

And, a lot of times, it makes little or only crazy sense, especially when it comes to certain backwoods characters and backwoods situations that would seem to be easily resolved in the “real” world but become horrible plot points leading to infection and extremely bloody death instead. To a lot of viewers, none of the characters are sympathetic or particularly good, and the only motivation that is understood (by this slice of viewership) is the one of the flesh-easting disease, ‘cause it just reproduces and reproduces and has some shares of the gross. I hope that joke made sense, because I’m not sure if it did or not. Damn.

Theoretically, we all saw (or will see) the same Cabin Fever. However, I think that myself and people like myself will enjoy Cabin Fever because we are rather different than most people. Seriously. Ignoring the irony that people reading this review are internet surfers, let me make a kind of blanket statement (excluding you, of course, beautiful MRFH reader!) that a whole lot of internet dwellers are kind of naïve and have an optimistic view of life and humanity. When they see a movie with characters that seem offensive and/or do offensive things, they go “That’s awful! No one is really like that! Very unrealistic! Three thumbs down!” Remember, though: offensiveness is in the eye of the beholder. And I’m not sure what it is like where all of you live, but in my section of existence, drug use, general drunkenness, a strong desire to have sex, selfishness, irresponsibility, and an overall nihilistic attitude towards life prevails. It isn’t that I understand and recognize the young group of college students at the center of Cabin Fever. It’s that I’m one of them. In fact… argh! My skin is peeling off! Help me!

I’m just now getting into plot, sorry. A group of college kids who are done with college exams (apparently in the fall, or something) and who may or may not have just graduated have rented a cabin in the woods of somewhere and are bringing a whole lot of beer and hormones for a week of casual debauchery. There’s the true couple, Jeff (Joey Kern) and Marcy (Cerina Vincent), who have lots of sex and have their pleasure principles down cold. There’s the would-be couple, Paul (Rider Strong) and Karen (Jordan Ladd), who have been friends for-like-ever and seem to both plan on consummating something at some point during this week and probably would have before. Except that Paul is too shy and too much of a good guy and Karen goes for other not-so-nice guys, as we get a hint of when she mentions an excursion to check out UC Berkeley and meeting three guys who kept her inebriated for five days by only letting her drink beer (because she, apparently, had no say in matter [look for the upcoming Kyle Rants: Modern Sexual Politics Among Young Women coming soon!]). Finally, there is Bert (James DeBello), who gets bored with wilderness existence within 20 minutes of arrival and plans only to drink beer and shoot at squirrels with a BB gun.

Left along to their own devices, it would probably be a fun, memorable, and sticky week for this group of friends and lovers. But, thanks to an unwanted bacterial guest whose origins you never really discover, their week is sticky for another reason: because their diseased flesh is sloughing off by the pound and the blood is just getting everywhere!

Yeah, okay. On the great ruler of manners, ethics, and human civility, these kids come up short. But they’re up against their own upbringing (probably lots of MTV and poor examples set by ‘90s bands in sex and drug-filled music videos), their surroundings (none of them seem like hardcore wilderness types; they just wanted a secluded place to run wild in), and the crazy hicks and maniacs that everyone knows live out in the country and operate the convenience stores and become small-town law enforcement. They run up against stoner dudes, stoner cops, angry fellow campers with shotguns and strong sense of property lines, and, of course, a strange flesh-eating disease that goes from gooey dog to man to the main cast. There’s a sense of powerlessness at being corrupted by an evil that can’t even be seen, there’s the expected turning of each other on each other, and there’s a cynicism that even the good-hearted main hero Paul eventually succumbs to when he’s forced to become a survivalist.

It’s gooey, it’s icky, and it’s a wild combination of genres that this review doesn’t even delve into (I could dedicate whole volumes to the crazy mullet kid who bites people and is really into pancakes, but no). Like I said, you probably won’t like it, although if you’re here reading this that’s a good start. Just don’t hold it against me if you don’t like it and/or you vomit, because come on. What do you expect with a flesh-eating disease? Oh, don’t eat any chili or anything while you’re watching. You can imagine why.

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