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Unless you’re a doctor or a nurse, the thought of necrotizing fasciitis or fotobacterum damsela probably doesn’t horrify you. But if you knew what they knew, it would. Those two unpronounceable names are monikers for flesh-eating diseases that can strip the skin off you in a matter of hours. That’s why Paul, Karen, Jeff, Marcy and Bert, a group of buds vacationing in a secluded backwoods cabin, are terrified. The trip started out just like the group wanted it to. Jeff and Marcy were going at it in one of the cabin’s back rooms, Paul was trying to hook up with his lifelong crush, Karen, and Bert was shooting squirrels and swilling beer. Then an old hermit stumbled up to their cabin, covered in oozing ulcers. The five chased him away with a rifle, knives and a burning brand. But then—one by one—they started feeling nauseous, and began to break out in an itchy, red rash. Of course, the car won’t start, so they’re stranded ... and their skin is falling off. That’s about the time they turn on each other ...

positive elements: At one point, Paul plays peacemaker and breaks up a brawl between Jeff and Bert, urging them to work together. Paul’s gradual transformation from nice guy to cold-hearted killer hints at man’s innate depravity.

spiritual content: When a rural posse out for blood stumbles upon the remains of a bonfire, they comment that it looks like a sacrificial pit and is "unchristian."

sexual content: Marcy’s character seems to exist for little reason other than to provide sexual diversion by yanking off her top at the drop of a hat. She and Jeff noisily copulate when they first arrive at the cabin (moviegoers see breast nudity and frantic sexual motions). Later, afraid that they will all die from the virus, she sleeps with Paul in an equally graphic scene. Her chest is also exposed as she washes in the tub. Additionally, Karen and Bert discuss masturbation experiences in explicit detail. Paul eyes a naked woman through a window. A police officer makes a crude comment about male genitalia. Unaware that a woman has contracted the flesh-eating virus, Paul fondles her as she sleeps, with bloody results. Karen sunbathes in a skimpy bikini.

violent content:"I have a sick sense of humor," says Cabin Fever’s director and scribe, Eli Roth. "I truly enjoy movies that are so violent and disturbing they become funny." While I can’t agree that excessive violence equals mirth, there’s no question that Roth translated his exuberance for gore into a movie chock full of it. Cabin Fever is such a foul film that putting its images into words is at best, painful and repulsive, and at worst, impossible. Characters infected with the flesh-eating virus vomit copious amounts of blood and develop grisly lesions all over their bodies. During a "real life" campfire story, Paul describes to his friends how a disgruntled employee bludgeoned to death and dismembered his coworkers (flashbacks show the killer performing the described deeds). Paul sets a man on fire. A woman with the disease redefines the word "bloodbath" when she shaves her legs while in the tub. Several people are shotgunned at pointblank range during an armed confrontation (one is stabbed through the ear with a screwdriver). Paul beats an infected person to death with a shovel. A person is devoured by a ravenous dog. A man gets riddled with bullets by police. A pig is graphically disemboweled. The action is so gory that by the movie’s final scene there’s scarcely a square foot inside the cabin that’s not covered in blood.

crude or profane language: Over 130 f-words are joined by about 50 other profanities and crude expressions. God’s name is abused at least 25 times and Jesus’ is profaned half-a-dozen times. Several people use racial slurs.

drug and alcohol content: Almost every character downs grog and many smoke. Bert hunts with a rifle in one hand, and a cigarette and a beer in the other. He and Jeff pledge to exclusively drink beer for the duration of their time at the cabin. A party-minded police officer talks about the debauched keggers of which he’s fond and is later seen at one of them. A skateboarder shares a huge bag of pot with the five campers as they reminisce around a campfire. Karen recalls how she got completely wasted while visiting UC Berkeley.

other negative elements: Several characters try to rationalize a murder by saying the victim was going to die anyway. Police officers resort to vigilante, backwoods "justice" when dealing with a killer. Bert steals a candy bar from a store and beef jerky from an unlocked house. When asked, he lies about having cigarettes.

conclusion: Vile. Gruesome. Exploitative. Mean-spirited. And just plain gross. Cabin Fever stretches one’s grasp on superlatives just trying to describe how awful it is. "It’s pretty disgusting, disquieting stuff," agrees Glenn Lovell of Knight Ridder Newspapers. "Instead of things that go bump in the night, we get buckets of spewed blood [and] festering corpses." Sadly, gushing entrails and gaping sores apparently can draw a crowd (the film was a big hit at the 2002 Toronto International Film Festival). Allow me to be blunt: Getting any enjoyment out of such diseased bloodletting is sick. Avoid Cabin Fever like the plague.

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