Ostensibly a tribute to the old-school drive-in horror flicks of the late-'70s/early-'80s, Cabin Fever instead comes across as an awkward mish-mash that tries to straddle the fine line between outrage and outrageous, veering from farce to gross-out at a moment’s notice.
The set-up is basic: Five obnoxious college kids (played by five unknown actors) head to the hills to indulge in a week of drunken debauchery at a remote cabin in the woods. Unfortunately, a local hermit infected with a ravenous flesh-eating disease drops by long enough to pass on the virus. One-by-one the kids turn on each other. While at first holding fast with the tongue-in-cheek horror, Cabin Fever completely deflates with the introduction of a bicycle-riding cop and slack-jawed yokels, all wearing very bad wigs.
David Lynch-protàgà Eli Roth obviously knows his horror flicks, as he has taken a whippet-lean scenario and a handful of “homages” to iconic moments from the genre and fashioned a wannabe pre-fabricated “cult classic.” Unfortunately, he fails to include even one remotely likable character to root for (even the supposed hero indulges in a moment of tentative date rape), eliminating any element of suspense.
As a gross-out horror comedy, it’s not all that funny, nor scary, but it does deliver with the gross-out. A muddled near-miss.