30 Day Horror Review – BODY HORROR – Cabin Fever (2002)

A group of five college graduates rent a cabin in the woods and begin to fall victim to a horrifying flesh-eating virus, which attracts the unwanted attention of the homicidal locals. (IMDB synopsis)

I didn’t know much about this one going in. I knew the basic premise – teens go to a cabin in the woods and an horrific disease is inflicted upon them. Sounds pretty standard… but what are the lasting effects of this so-called ‘cabin fever’? Well, it‘s body horror, so it‘s bound to be disgusting. Let’s find out.

Review:

Another animated DVD menu! We’re being spoilt.
After some creepy and creative opening credits, a man is seen walking though woodland and comes across a dead dog. When the guy lifts up the dog’s paw, half the dog comes up with it. Nice.
Next we see some obnoxious, laughing, squealing, cursing, cig-smoking, music-blaring and don’t forget horny-as-hell teens. They’re off on their summer holiday (it doesn’t sound as good as ‘vacation’, does it? Yay, Britishisms). Naturally they pick a cabin in the woods in the middle of nowhere.
They get to the cabin which comes courtesy of ‘Bunyan Mountain Getaways’ and looks pretty good. Two of them, Marcy and Jeff, jump straight into the sexy shenanigans as the others, Paul, Karen and Bert, go out for a walk. All seems to be going well – until the man from earlier appears, infected with a horrible, skin-eating disease. Despite their best efforts to get rid of him, his body falls into the lake – their only water supply – and they unwittingly imbibe it, infecting themselves.
I’ll be very honest… I didn’t like this film. Certain parts were interesting, and the effects were fine, but overall it just annoyed the hell out of me. Hopefully I can explain why.
First of all, I want to ask the world in general – why do the teens in horror films nowadays have to be so thoroughly dislikeable? For a start, there’s all the words they use. Karen fends off Paul’s attempts to get out of the friend zone by telling him not to be so ‘gay’. She calls Bert a retard for wanting to shoot squirrels… although, to be fair, Bert wanting to shoot squirrels and peeing openly in the wilderness isn’t great either!
And I’m not going to say that Marcy and Jeff’s shenanigans are a bad thing – I don’t care how much they do it. But the film itself seems to demonise such shenanigans. As an example, later in the film when disease has set in and Jeff has grabbed all the beers and fled the cabin, Marcy decides that now is a great time to have sex with Paul without a condom, since they‘re all doomed to die anyway. The film highlights that she doesn’t bother with contraceptives, and she is punished for her actions – not only does she catch the disease, but is later torn apart by a ravenous mutt. But Jeff must be an unsafe dude himself, so does he get punished in similar fashion? Nope! He emerges from a cave a few days later in perfect health, proving that sometimes you have to be an arsehole to survive.
Another ‘interesting’ message from the film is that the police are useless and will even prefer to shoot on sight and dump the bodies rather than pay attention to the teen’s plight and help them. The explanation seems to be for reasons of containing the spread of disease, but hell, they actually drag Paul out of hospital and dump his body in the lake for reasons of spite. The locals are the same, committing acts of homicide against these no-good ‘un-Christian’ holiday-makers. Again, I feel there’s a rather heavy-handed metaphor about the dangers of unsafe sex – I noticed that with Karen and Bert, the first place the disease struck was near their nether regions. (Paul’s original site of infection is his hand, because he’s… chaste?) As for Marcy, her leg shaving scene is pretty narsty and I’m going to let you watch that for yourself.

Final Verdict:

This film is watchable, but it’s also plain annoying. I don’t care about a single character or whether or not they’ll die, and if I don’t care, then I don’t feel the horror they feel as this disease takes them over. I also feel the film tries to weasel in a load of messages about the evils of sex and the poetic justice of the hunter becoming the hunted, and it manufactures obstacle after obstacle just to keep the teens stranded where they are. That really annoys me and I can’t help that. I like some parts, like the onset of paranoia after Karen falls ill, but there’s not much to convince me to ever watch this thing again.

Rating:

3 jam sandwiches.

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