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Cabin Fever (2002)

This is a film I'm pretty positive I had seen upon its initial release, yet for some reason or another I couldn't remember anything about it, other than one particular flesh eating scene featuring a blonde woman in a sleeping bag. I honestly couldn't even tell you if I remembered liking it or not the first time around. Given that this film went on to birth multiple sequels and a remake, I figured it was about time I went back to give this film another chance with fresh eyes and see what it was about 'Cabin Fever' that made it so forgettable for me. As someone who is not a particularly big fan of director Eli Roth and his catalogue of work, it was interesting for me to go back and watch his directorial debut. My general disliking of Roth usually stems from some of the decisions he makes when involved in the writing of his productions, usually being brimmed with teen stereotypes, over played horror tropes and featuring a moment or two that feels like it is just there to push boundaries and for shock value alone. More often than not this moment tends to be some form of sexual related violence, or at least that has been my experience with films of his I have seen. It's important for me to say though, that as a director I do find Roth fairly competent. He makes some interesting and artistic choices with his camera work and cabin fever is a great example of that, featuring some very pleasing camera angles. One thing I will say though is that his editing here is questionable at times, using a heavy fade in and out of scenes in some places throughout, an effect that does look really amateur and doesn't quite have the stylistic impact believe he intended. There is a strange use of comedy weaved throughout this film that really doesn't sit well with me, nor with the overall tone if the film. Although categorised as a horror comedy, it just doesn't quite blend these two elements together well enough to be consider that latter. I know incorporating these random moments of comic relief were prevalent in horrors of the early 2000's, however I personally wasn't a fan of it then and revisiting it now, I don’t believe it has aged any better either. The casting I took no issue with, I liked all of them in their own right, even given their accentuated personas. If anything the lead, Paul (played by Rider Strong) felt like he belonged on a sitcom procedural - turns out unbeknownst to me that is what he is best known for. But, given the imbalance in tone with the strange introductions of momentary comedy, he wasn't the most obvious thing out of place here. The stand out of the group I found to be Bert, played by James Rebellion, providing the most convincing and wide-ranging performance of the group. This is a heavy gore drenched production, something I don't recall it being from my first watch. The practical effects are really impressive, showing a fantastic depiction of deterioration within human flesh as this virus takes hold, only growing in vulgarity as the process worsens. Some of these scenes are pretty graphic, but considering these are all created by visual effects artists Howard Berger and Greg Nicotero, it comes as no surprise that they are faultless. I found myself extremely invested in the plot of this film. Contagion films and zombie films in particular are some of my most enjoyed within the genre. I especially like this subgenre when they try to do something different and creative with the concept, and the way in which the spread and impact of the infection varies. 'Cabin fever' is a great example of that, instead of being solely dependent on the virus itself, it takes an approach that deals more with the human reaction to the spread and consequence of the characters impulsive behaviour due to fear. Overall, 'Cabin Fever' is definitely one of the better films of Roth's that I have seen. This has a slight issue with pacing, finding myself (especially within the first 40 minutes) wanting things to move along much quicker than they were. I'm glad I decided to give this a revisiting and I'm now more curious than ever about the sequels and remakes that have continued on from this film.



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