Cabin Fever plays out like an "Everything I Needed to Know I Learned from Horror Movies" poster. There isn't a single element of this film that hasn't already been done: not the setting, not the characters, not the disease, not the outcome. Some would argue that re-using time tested horror techniques isn't necessarily a bad thing, and Cabin Fever does draw on some excellent sources: Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Evil Dead and Last House on the Left to name a few. There's also a little Outbreak and 28 Days Later in there as well.
Ultimately though, Cabin Fever borrows from too many sources and lacks its own vision. In the end, the film sticks itself between a rock and a hard place: not funny enough to be a good camp/horror flick, and not smart or scary enough to be a suspense/ horror flick. The only thing Cabin Fever succeeds at is being really, really gross with a hint of gore.
Five college kids rent a cabin in the woods for a little R & R after graduation. What they expect is a week of hardcore partying. What they get is a bum who is infected with a flesh-eating virus and who tries to attack them. Inevitably, one of the kids gets sick. Predictably, the group ostracizes her and turns against each other. Skin peels, sores ooze, girls scream, you know how it goes.
Surprisingly, the director of Cabin Fever worked as an editor for David Lynch. Aside from an Angelo Badalamenti score and some awkward hillbilly characters, there is nothing in this film to suggest director Eli Roth had any influence from Lynch. Which is just fine considering how many young directors are out there ripping off Lynch anyway. Still, it would have been nice if Roth could have absorbed just a hint of Lynch's knack for creating tension. Alas. He seems to be immune.
With American Pie /Slacker style humor, and far more gore, than its contemporaries (Final Destination, Urban Legends, Valentine, etc.) Cabin Fever may find an audience with a younger crowd who cut their teeth on moves like Scream. Seasoned horror fans would be better off catching 28 Days Later again, or forking over a matinee admission for Freddy vs. Jason.
-Megan A. Denny