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Cabin Fever

movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: Cabin Fever

Starring: Jordan Ladd, Rider Strong
Director: Eli Roth
Rated: R
RunTime: 94 Minutes
Release Date: September 2003
Genres: Horror, Thriller

*Also starring: James DeBello, Cerina Vincent, Joey Kern, Arie Verveen, Joe Adams, Giuseppe Andrews, Noah Belson, Richard Boone, Matt Cappiello, Julie Childress, Hal Courtney

Review by Harvey Karten
2 stars out of 4

After 9/11, thousands of New Yorkers pulled up roots and moved to the sticks, knowing that there's security in the 'burbs and even more safety in the sticks. Or is there? A group of college-age kids should have stayed in bed back in their university towns or urban homes. They make the mistake of their lives by driving to a log cabin a far from civilization as were Uncle Garth and Uncle Hub in Tim McCanlies's "Secondhand Lions." Opening on the tail of what some critics appear to consider the best horror flick of the year, "28 Days Later," and just before the release of a remake of "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre," "Cabin Fever" may not match up but to some extent comes across with appropriate scares. The intended audience might look back to their own sophomoric daze hitting the road with boyfriends and girlfriends and planning an exciting, rustic experience.

We're introduced early on to the differences among the young people, the most irresponsible and gross fifth-wheel Bert (James DeBello) stealing a candy bar from a general store while the group are stopping by to get a few supplies. When they run into a hermit, his face soaked with blood and his aggressive stance signaling lunacy, the kids get the upper hand, which they hold onto only for a while. When one of the girls begins coughing up blood, the others try to quarantine her but to no avail. Soon, others develop scabs on their legs and backs, indicating that their paranoia is legitimate. As they bicker and squabble and blame one another for their ill fate, they realize that their time on earth is to be short indeed.

"Cabin Fever" is a slasher movie whose photographer, Scott Kevan, is compelled to be over-cautious, discreetly aiming his lens away from the one victim who is hacked to pieces by a pick-axe and another who meets his demise when a threatened opponent jams a stick into his neck. If anything, critic Richard Roeper is prudish when he calls the film "disgusting." More blood and gore are needed to give the audience their deserved and paid-for catharsis.

Given the films that exist to satirize the horror genre such as the "Scary Movie" franchise, it's a pleasure to welcome the real thing this year: first "28 Days Later," and now "Cabin Fever." Angelo Badalamenti ratchets the emotions with a creepy score while the kids played by Rider Strong, Jordan Ladd, Joey Kern, Cerina Vincent and James DeBello are nicely differentiated by director Eli Roth, who co-wrote the script with Randy Pearlstein.

Copyright 2003 Harvey Karten

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