Release Date: 2003Five college students on the brink of independence and entering adulthood decide to rent a cabin in the woods for the summer. In typical horror picture fashion, shit goes crazy. The question that most horror fans ask themselves when they read the aforementioned sentence is, "How is the execution of this story differ from other horror pictures with the same premise?" Real easy: those pictures aren't directed and written by Eli Roth. On a serious tip, the flesh eating virus that's spread is totally gnarly (in a great way) and the makeup effects? There's a sick scene between Jordan Ladd and Rider Strong's character that makes you cringe with disgust where you want to close your eyes, but you have to continue watching.
As Eli Roth's directorial debut, he blew this horror fan away. His picture had the perfect elements of classic horror pictures, comedic moments, a cameo role, gross-tastic effects, and spot on performances from all his actors. I also gotta give a shout out to Rider Strong (huge fan of him since Boy Meets World) who made me look forward to Friday nights in the nineties. It was such a pleasure seeing him playing someone else rather than Shawn Hunter and in a movie. Another shout out goes to James DeBello - the king of B movies. I first saw him in 100 Girls (which I loved and still do) and then I see him in this! This type of movie was definitely up his alley. As for the other actors, I wasn't very familiar with their work but they did their jobs in this picture. Joey Kern as the stuck up, Jeff, was my favorite character at the end of the picture. Jordan Ladd and Rider Strong's chemistry was pitch perfect while Celina Vincent was definitely the T&A of the movie. Some of the death scenes showcase a great throwback to horror that happens off-screen which makes the deaths even scarier, which was a huge plus for me. There were some splatter gore moments (always love it) and of course, sex. But I digress.
There are also some bizarre moments (you'll understand when you hear, "pancakes" in the movie) that I'm still trying to wrap my head around every time I watch but I still love the picture. It's the most fun I had had in a long time when I discovered this on DVD.
Let's take a trip into where we were in 2003, shall we? I was ending my junior year of college at NYU. The box office horror landscape was pretty scarce (not including those straight to DVD releases) back then. The biggest horror pictures at the box office were Jeepers Creepers 2 and Freddy vs. Jason. I can understand how a small picture like Cabin Fever was lost in the Oscar race that occurs every Fall at the box office. I was very excited to watch Freddy vs. Jason at the box office a month prior (August) and was completely satisfied. When Cabin Fever was quietly released by Lionsgate (or maybe I didn't notice or care?), that opening weekend, I watched the clusterfuck that was Once Upon a Time in Mexico and was completely unsatisfied. Not to mention how 2003 was about film franchises (Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, and The Matrix to name a few) so I can see how movie audiences were burnt out come October.
Even though this film received mixed reviews, I enjoy it, own it, love it, and will always recommend horror folks to give Eli Roth's first picture a try.
One of my favorite horror directors in this genre, I'm looking forward to seeing more of Eli Roth's work in the future and you should too.