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During college semester break, five young friends rent a cabin in the North Carolina woods. After a bizarre encounter with a redneck family who run a nearby general store, the party arrives at their isolated holiday destination. Terror strikes when a fatal, flesh-eating virus starts infecting first a stranger in the woods who comes for help, then the no longer happy cabin-mates. When Paul (Rider Strong) discovers the source of the virus, his appeals for help are dismissed by the young party-loving local deputy sheriff Deputy Winston (Giuseppe Andrews), forcing Paul to take desperate measures to save his remaining friends.

Review by Richard Kuipers:
Anyone who remembers renting movies on long-defunct video labels like Starbase, K&C and Sundowner will be familiar with the territory in this throwback to 'spam in a cabin' and environmental horrors of the 70s. Memories of Toxic Zombies, Madman and every S.F. Brownrigg backwoods chop-em-up will come flooding back for gorehounds raised on blood feasts made before CGIs and cheap laughs sent the genre into decline. Producer/ director/ writer duo Eli Roth (a David Lynch associate) and Randy Pearlstein are clearly students of American horror and have even added a touch of Herschell Gordon Lewis' southern-fried slice and dice outing Two Thousand Maniacs (1964) to round out their wildly uneven homage. Why all these references? Because Cabin Fever is a compendium of nods to the famous (Evil Dead) and obscure (I Drink Your Blood) shockers from the era that established all the rules for what happens when young city folk detour from highways to dirt roads. Roth and Pearlstein know what to do with a widescreen camera and can create creepy atmosphere but the longer Cabin Fever continues the more structurally messy it becomes. The opening reels are solid enough, with a quintet of kids happily drinking beer and goofing off before bugs in the local water supply get under their skin - and bloodily so. Bets can be taken on who'll be the first to die (preppy Jeff got my vote for hairdo violation) and who'll be the last camper standing. Signs are encouraging as a spaced-out skater boy appears out of nowhere and the soundtrack - including selections by Angelo Badalamenti - give an ominous chill to proceedings. As the flesh starts falling off these not-so-bright young things and nominal hero Paul (Rider Strong) goes looking for help, the film starts veering out of control. Encounters with local residents are amusing and scary in isolation but are not properly integrated into the narrative. The same applies to the comic character of Deputy Winston (Giuseppe Andrews). Andrews is hilarious as a cop who digs the chicks and calls Paul 'Mr Party Man' but his character acts like he's drifted in from a completely different film. As it reaches the finale, Cabin Fever gives the impression it's being made up as it goes along. Such indiscipline hurts the overall effect but it does inject some truly bizarre characters and events into a story we've seen a million times before. The creators of Cabin Fever have partly revived the moribund horror genre and if they get the script right next time the results could be most exciting.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
If you go down into the woods today, you’re in for a big surprise…. And it’s not teddy bears, pal, it’s a flesh eating virus. What’s worse, it’s kinda based on a real virus, one that had a go at the writer/director’s face some years ago (in Iceland, don’t worry). No creature feature, this, Cabin Fever is a sick-o, but writer director Eli Roth will smile when he reads that. He’s been sick-oh-panting since he was a kid, turned on to horror films like a vampire staring at a naked jugular. But none of that here, either, this is just one creepily invisible virus on the loose, and the fact we can see it’s breeding ground – in the local water supply – the fear factor is nicely set to MAX. Our imagination runs riot as we consider the implications. You won’t want to drink water, ever again. Determined to sidestep the fakery of Hollywood’s more recent teen horror films, Eli Roth has delivered a gen-u-eyn genre item that really wants to scare you and not slide past on a series of swaggering in-jokes. For the teen market that this is aimed at, it will seem as fresh as a blood-stained daisy, even if more mature and experienced filmgoers see it in a slightly different light. Stylishly shot in widescreen on a terrific location – not too obvious and totally credible – the film has enough characterisation to be taken seriously and enough gory stuff to belong to its genre. The humour is kept well in check, and all the technical crew have excelled themselves, while the cast can safely put Cabin Fever on their CVs.

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CAST: Jordan Ladd, Rider Strong, James DeBell, Cerina Vincent, Joey Kern, Arie Verveen, Giuseppe Andrews

PRODUCER: Evan Astrowsky, Sam Froelich, Lauren Moews, Eli Roth


SCRIPT: Eli Roth, Randy Pearlstein


EDITOR: Ryan Folsey

MUSIC: Angelo Badalamenti, Nathan Barr

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Franco-Giacomo Carbone

RUNNING TIME: 94 minutes


AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: December 4, 2003


VIDEO RELEASE: march 17, 2004

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