CABIN FEVER (2003) director Eli Roth's sophomore feature serves notice to the self-referential fright films that flourished in the wake of Wes Craven's SCREAM (1996). It's a back-to-basics, gore-and-gristle look at the no-frills nastiness of 1970s films, in which monsters, mutants and ghosts can't hold a candle to the sheer, unadulterated evil that lurks in the hearts of men. And be warned: The raunchy, EUROTRIP (2004)-style sex farce morphs suddenly into a particularly vicious, fish-in-a-barrel variation on Richard Connell's much-adapted, updated and imitated 1924 story, The Most Dangerous Game. Three lewd, crude backpackers — Americans Paxton (Jay Hernandez) and Josh (Derek Richardson) and Icelander Oli (Eythor Gudjonsson) — are on a mission to wallow in debased thrills, starting with the hash-to-hookers pornucopia of Amsterdam. But the place is overrun with vice tourists like themselves, so they're all ears when a slightly shifty Russian offers a hot tip: There's a hostel near Bratislava, he says, that's always overflowing with sex-starved Eastern European beauties — studly young foreigners are in like Flynn. Oli, Paxton and Josh hop the next train to Slovakia, and even their creepy encounter with a fellow traveler, a Dutch businessman (Jan Vlasak) on the prowl for some exotic thrills, can't stomp the sex-fueled buzz they get from sultry and accommodating locals Natalya (Barbara Nedeljakova) and Svetlana (Jana Kaderabkova). Bratislava is cool and hard currency is king — keeping an eye out for the gangs of feral kids prowling the streets and willing to kill for bubblegum is a small price to pay for as much booze, dope and sex as you can mainline. Until it all goes terribly wrong and the guys who only a few days earlier were ogling a zaftig Dutch hooker and baying, "I hope bestiality is legal here, because that girl's a hog!" are on the other side of the meat rack, sold to patrons of a clandestine house of horrors where $25,000 (U.S., of course) buys the privilege of torturing to death bound and helpless victims. Roth's film is a blunt instrument but brings some sly changes to the cliched trope of guileless Americans ensnared in rotten European depravity. His ugly Americans are just that, the better to make you squirm when they get what's coming to them and much, much more. It's a nasty piece of work, and work it does.
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- Released: 2005
- Rating: R
- Review: CABIN FEVER (2003) director Eli Roth's sophomore feature serves notice to the self-referential fright films that flourished in the wake of Wes Craven's SCREAM (1996). It's a back-to-basics, gore-and-gristle look at the no-frills nastiness of 1970s films, i… (more)