Cabin Fever is pretty much a standard slasher movie. In reading about it beforehand I got the impression it maybe had a little more wit and creativity to it, like Night of the Living Dead, or was one of those spoof/homage to a genre type movies. I doubt I would have given it a shot otherwise, as I rarely watch slasher style horror movies. But really it seemed pretty conventional to me, and thus probably not worth bothering with.
The set-up is the usual group of arrogant, partying teenagers in the middle of nowhere, in this case renting a cabin out in woods they’re unfamiliar with. Their interaction never rises above the mundane, and other than the fact that you get to see a couple of the cute girls semi-naked briefly, it’s just filler while you wait to see people get hacked up.
The local people are predictably colorful and creepy hillbillies.
The kids are confronted by a staggering, bloody stranger imploring them for help. They want to assist him, or at least go for help (no one has even a cell phone, for whatever reason), but their higher priority is avoiding any contact with him, since at best it looks like he’s suffering from some grotesque flesh-eating disease that could be contagious, and at worst he might be some kind of dangerous criminal and this could be a ruse.
But he’s only semi-coherent and insists on blundering into them despite their attempts to ward him off, setting off panicky self-defense violence.
And that pretty much becomes the theme of the movie. People contract this gruesome disease that causes them to wander around in delirium puking up blood, and whoever they encounter is a little more scared by them than sympathetic, certainly in the case of strangers, but to some extent even with these people who know each other.
And being a horror movie, you don’t know if it’s really a disease, or these people are actually dying and then reanimating as zombies, or some other such supernatural hypothesis.
I suppose the closest comparison of the movies I’ve written about so far would be the French horror film Sheitan. I prefer Sheitan in that the oddball local characters are a bit better than these hillbillies, the creepy groundskeeper clearly surpasses any specific character in this movie (though I do quite like the deputy sheriff who’s obsessed with partying), and it’s probably just a little bit better done overall. I prefer this movie in that there’s a little more action, and it’s considerably more watchable in that it’s in English and it doesn’t have any weird surreal elements to make the story more artificially confusing.
All-in-all, Cabin Fever is not particularly scary, it’s not noticeably clever and funny, and there’s not a lot going on to think about on a deeper level. I suppose it’s OK for this genre, but that’s hardly a ringing endorsement. It is superficially entertaining enough to have held my interest throughout, but I can’t say I recommend this movie.