Eli Roth found fame with the Hostel films – though realistically more the first one, which pretty much ignited the over-rated and over-done torture-porn era, a genre which over-stayed its welcome.
But Roth got his shot by making a low budget gore filled horror film that (he alleges) put a twist on the usual ‘kids in a cabin’ film. The reality in my eyes though, is he chanced upon one idea that justified some gross bits, and parlayed that into a career, and in the case of Cabin Fever as a trilogy – an undeserved franchise generating increasingly poor returns.
Five characters from the five horror food groups; the meathead, the too-cool-for-school guy, the simple hot chick, the cute vulnerable girl and the shy guy, all descend on the same run down cabin in the middle of redneck nowhere.
They frolic. They fornicate. They drink. You wonder why such a group of disparate people hang out together.
A small kid at a convenience store threatens them with karate moves. A crazy guy jumps out of the bushes. An angry dog barks menacingly. A weird hipster shows up to talk bollocks. The car breaks down.
Someone drinks a glass of water…
Strangely enough with all the goings on, it is the H2O that serves as the catalyst for the blood soaked confusion that follows. At first it manifests as a nasty rash. Could just as easily be written off as a scrape or a reaction to a plant. That would be if it didn’t spread so fast.
Eli Roth gets way too much credit as a horror maestro thanks to this film and Hostel, but the plaudits here should go to the makeup crew for their work. Red flesh turns pus. Inflamed sores get itchy. Itchy sores get scratched. Scratching is not the best course of action.
Roth should be praised for his pacing, which is solid, and at least trying to inject some jokes in between the gore. While there are too many gimmicky characters and too many of the jokes fall flat, you could do worse than Cabin Fever for a disgusting night in. But a horror genius for this generic stuff? Puhleeze.
Final Rating – 7 / 10. The question is; can we stretch this one note out to three films?
The answer is no.
The first Cabin Fever had one original idea, and in bludgeoning this sole concept to death, effectively exhausted all the possibilities that this non-franchise had.
But never under-estimate the laziness of Hollywood, and their willingness to sell a crap film by linking it to a recognisable name. In this case Eli Roth, who had followed up Cabin Fever with Hostel, one of the originators of the mercifully now defunct torture porn era.
There isn’t even a cabin here, so the action moves to the staple of uninspired horror, prom night. Most kids would rather lose a limb than miss prom, here they can do both.
Despite such a plotless affair the film has a couple brief moments but they are few and far between, with much bordering on Troma levels of cheapness and wilful stupidity. Cartoon intro and outros only further cast a spotlight on just how cynical and incomplete this all is, each adding several minutes of padding to a crappy film that is still less than 90 minutes.
The oblivious stoner cop from the first film returns as the ‘connecting thread’ to lead the least efficient police force in existence while the evidence is all around them.
Once the flesh eating virus returns – via various sources including tainted a punchbowl – the students on their most special night turn into marshmallows, and reality is a hungry pecking bird. Unfortunately though while the early bird might indeed get the worm, the reality is worms taste like shit.
Final Rating – 6 / 10. A sequel with only two similarities; flesh eating bugs and mediocrity.
Cabin Fever 3 again doesn’t ever go near a cabin. In fact it doesn’t set foot on the continental United States as far as I could tell. Part of that is budget constraints that would have been imposed, but a bigger part would undoubtedly be the inherent slothfulness of this pointless ‘franchise’.
In Location 1: With a wedding imminent, three guys and a gal embark upon an impromptu bachelor party aboard an expensive pleasure boat. The chick is not there as a stripper but as another ‘mate’, but don’t worry, she gets her tits out anyway.
In Location 2: Experiments are being carried out in dimly lit rooms. In a room reminiscent of Hannibal Lecter’s cell in Silence of the Lambs, stands a man in an orange jumpsuit, just like in that film… umm… Silence of the Lambs. He openly berates those on the other side of the glass, various gormless and expressionless faces that look down at clipboards, just like Clarice Starling did in the 90s in that film with Anthony Hopkins. Can’t remember the name.
In Location 1: Our foursome alight from the luxury boat to enjoy a night of roughing it in tents on a ratty little beach. Just another example of the poor choices characters in this film make… When one of the characters experiences a… disturbing health event, they set off on foot to find help.
In Location 2: All shit breaks out. Amid much blood and deafening screams, the emotionless former scientists and doctors suddenly cower in terror, straining desperately to find sanctuary in what seems a small enclosed facility.
Can anyone put two and two together yet? Or, more relevantly, will this film?
The answer to the most important question is ‘no’, the film will never get it together. Despite concerted and obvious efforts to take on a [REC] tone, Cabin Fever 3: Patient Zero is merely two gore effects, one that works (due to extreme grossness) and one that doesn’t. Sure it’s better than CF2, but pales into insignificance next to dozens of other mediocre horror films.
This is the merciful end to a tepid trilogy. And I for one am delighted that there is next to (Patient) Zero chance that we will have to sit through another one of these ‘flaky’ films again.
Final Rating – 6 / 10. Our only hope is that the flesh eating virus eventually eats itself.
Eli Roth is a handsome guy with movie star good looks, charm, charisma and confidence. But he is a shitty director and an extremely limited writer.
He is dead fortunate that Cabin Fever caught the eye of some people who were famous for reasons beyond luck, namely Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez. Those guys opened doors and wallets for Roth, who now lazily attaches his name to projects instead of coming up with new material. Last year’s lamentable ‘Clown’ being a prime example.
And when Roth – albeit rarely – steps behind the camera, it’s to prove that not only does he not got it, perhaps he never had.
I appreciate the transparent love that Eli Roth has for the horror genre, it’s just that he isn’t nearly as good at creating horror movies as he is promoting himself. The fact that the very ordinary Cabin Fever spun out into a trilogy is evidence of that…