Home » Cabin Fever Retrospective – There’s Something in the Water

Cabin Fever Retrospective – There’s Something in the Water

Poster for Eli Roth's horror film cabin fever.
Poster for Eli Roth's Cabin Fever.

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Cabin Fever catches up with a group of friends that rent a cabin in the woods for a wilderness getaway. Shortly after the fivesome arrives at their destination, they begin to notice strange goings on. A drifter shows up at the doorstep of their rental with a strange skin condition that begins to spread like wildfire.

This 2002 flick marks Eli Roth’s feature film directorial debut. In addition to directing, Roth also co-wrote and co-produced, so the now famed genre film director’s creative vision is apparent throughout all aspects of the feature. The script is primarily well written; it tells a mostly unique story and brings together an eclectic cast of characters. The only real problem with the scripting of Cabin Fever is that it devotes too much screen time to characters that probably should have been killed off early on in the film. It forces the audience to endure more than we would like of several throwaway characters.

Though it does give too much screen time to some of the wrong characters, the up side to that is the film’s unpredictability. It’s anyone’s guess as to who will survive and who will fall. Cabin Fever doesn’t really play by the rules. The character that one would assume to be the final girl won’t necessarily be the final girl and so forth.

The performances are mostly well played. Rider Strong from Boy Meets World is probably the biggest name in the film, so it’s clearly not a picture cast with big name actors. However, director Eli Roth coaxes solid performances out of his young cast. Roth, himself, makes a cameo appearance as a stoner skateboarder under the pseudonym David Kaufbird.

Cabin Fever gives audiences an early glimpse into Eli Roth’s dark, macabre sense of humor. There are plenty of twisted jokes and even the death scenes bear a hint of sarcastic wit.

In spite of its flaws, Cabin Fever is an enjoyable film. It is unique in that it deals with an outbreak but it isn’t a zombie movie and it takes places in the hills but it isn’t a redneck torture film. The concept melds different horror sub-genres but doesn’t really take its cues from any of them. The actual scares in the film are unlike anything I can recall.

Cabin Fever is solidly paced. The suspense starts building early on and there are very few moments of reprieve after that. It’s 93 minutes long but barely feels it. Roth successfully captures the viewer’s attention and doesn’t let up until the end credits are rolling.

The effects are done practically and should please even the most discerning gore enthusiast. The film isn’t as brutal as some of Roth’s later endeavors but it’s still not for the faint of heart.

If by some chance, you haven’t seen Cabin Fever, it’s well worth a look. It doesn’t reinvent the wheel but it is an enjoyable film with good effects, respectable direction, and a twisted sense of humor.

WICKED RATING: 5.5/10  [usr 5.5]

Director(s): Eli Roth
Writer(s): Eli Roth, Randy Pearlstein
Stars: Rider Strong, Jordan Ladd, James DeBello
Year: 2002
Studio/ Production Co: LionsGate
Budget:  $1.5 Million
Language: English
Length: 92 Minutes
Sub-Genre: Body Horror, Epidemic Horror


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Written by Tyler Doupé
Tyler Doupe' is the managing editor at Wicked Horror. He has previously penned for Fangoria Mag, Rue Morgue Mag, FEARnet, Fandango, ConTV, Ranker, Shock Till You Drop, ChillerTV, ComingSoon, and more. He lives with his husband, his dog, and cat hat(s).
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