Saturday, February 20, 2010

Cabin Fever 2

So a bit of background. Before making the great House Of The Devil West signed on to make a direct to Video sequel to Cabin Fever. It did not go well. Lionsgate kicked him off the picture and then extensively reshot and re edited the film. As a final insult, since West was not a member of the DGA he was not even allowed to Alan Smithee himself off the picture. As a result Lionsgate gets to ride the tide of good will From House Of The Devil despite totally fucking over West.

In short Lionsgate now gets to trap curious Horror fans with their usual DTV audience of the un discerning and the masochistic.

It should be noted that unlike many I actually kind of like both the original Cabin Fever and Eli Roth, despite the obvious flaws of both. Cabin Fever will never be a true classic, but it has its charm. It hits just the right note between the denizens of Traumaville and mainstream filmmaking, has a sense of humor but gets down to business when it needs to. Further more, Roth had both the balls to make Fever independently and the brains to get it picked up by a major studio and actually released. Neither are small things. He made and sold a successful R rated horror movie when such a thing was an oxymoron and you have to give him credit for that. It might be true that Roth’s true talents are those of a showman and a self promoter rather then a filmmaker, but neither are gifts that I rank cheaply (Roth may talk a better game then he plays, but its a lot of fun to hear him talk that game).

Despite knowing all this gory back story I couldn’t help but let my curiousity get the better of me. After all House Of The Devil was a tremendous film, and I couldn’t help but think even getting a glimpse of the real West underneath all the crap might be worthwhile. Well you can, but only glimpses. Look there was never going to be a chance that Cabin Fever 2 was going to end up a good movie anyway, but it did end up a pretty bad one. There are glimpses of Ti West here, but for every look at what he does well, there’s an equal but opposite scene where he throws up his hands and goes “Fuck it.” Cabin Fever 2 shows every sign of a film being cut down to the bone

While no one knows just what the nature of the rift between Lionsgate and West is, you might remember that in my House Of The Devil review I praised West as a master of the build up. I’m guessing that Lionsgate never know to be a studio all that enamored of the build up got sick of West trying to make a movie rather then a gag reel and booted him off the picture.

If this was the case, the plan backfired. Without West’s guiding hand Cabin Fever 2 merely feels slow rather then deliberate. Barely clocking in at eighty minutes, and that includes an animated nearly ten minute long credit sequence and a coda set in a strip club that defines superfluous.

The film itself follows the build up to a high school prom that has been infected with the flesh eating virus. We follow the usual gaggle of unfunny fat guys, losers, assholes, and unattainable dream girls, as one by one they start puking blood. Before you can say close up of a pus spewing penis, a government hit squad has sealed off the school and begun to systematically exterminate anyone who tries to escape. (On a side note its interesting how we’ve gone from the fifties’s “The Government Will Help You” to the seventies “The Government will try to help you, but will fuck it up” to now’s “The Government will straight up fucking murder you” in Rec, this and The upcoming remake of The Crazies”)

All the actors are terribly amateurish reading their lines in hurried gasps as if they just memorized them seconds before. Frankly its hard to believe that this kind of amateurishness came from a major studio. Even the DTV branch of said studio. Even though said studio is responsible for Saw… Ok now it makes more sense. But still.

The film’s lone bright spot comes from the previously insufferable Winston, you know the creepy deputy from the original who wanted to party. Though he only managed to be as annoying as sin the original he modulates his tone much better and in the interest of truth in criticism the way he delivered the line “Turn down the Sepultura and listen to me mother fucker.” Genuinely cracked me up. Plus he gets partnered with Larry Fesden (Whose presence only sadly reminded me that I could be watching a Larry Fesden movie) and Mark Boschardt who I’m always happy to see in a movie since it presumably means he can afford to buy food. Rider Strong makes the most out his brief cameo.

And I’m officially out of nice things to say about the movie. If Ti West makes good on his promise and becomes a great horror director (as I suspect he will) Cabin Fever 2 will be a fascinating watch. As is though its just kind of a waste of time.

Side Note:

The film is cheap that it features people drinking Red Oval. For those of you without a Trader Joes nearby, Red Oval is a beer that sells for a whopping total of 2.99 a six pack. It is so bad that the people who drink Trader Joe’s OTHER 2.99 a six pack beer Simpler Times (Like yours truly) look down on it. When you can’t afford Mickey’s or Natural Light for your film your good and fucked.


Anonymous said...

I miss Trader Joe's since moving to Texas.

So bummed it turned out the way it did. I heard Lionsgate changed the film to a more dick and fart teenage goof fest than a serious horror film which West wanted to do.

AE said...

Aw, this is all too bad. I am not crazy about Ti West but do nurse an unhealthy passion for the first Cabin Fever. This does not sound worth sitting through even to see Deputy Winston again... Sounds like Lionsgate really fucked up the party, man.

Bryce Wilson said...

@ AE: Hah I couldn't have said it better myself. I have to admit Winston teaming up with Mark Borchardt is pretty righteous.

Aaron said...

"Mark Boschardt who I’m always happy to see in a movie since it presumably means he can afford to buy food"


Great review, man. I did enjoy the first Cabin Fever also, and I actually liked this one to a certain extent. What did you think about the animation that book-ended the film? When I did my review for this on my blog I totally forgot to mention it. I thought it was cheap, but then again it kinda makes sense now knowing that it was re-cut/edited, etc. I knew a little bit about the back story behind West, how he was treated by the studio, and not being able to use the Alan Smithee pseudonym, but not to the extent that you pointed out. I haven't seen House Of The Devil yet because I'm waiting until all of the hype dies down so that I can check it out with little or no expectations. I was not a fan of West's "The Roost" and I have a feeling that if I watch House Of The Devil now I will try to pick it apart to the point that it becomes unenjoyable.

Bryce Wilson said...

Oh God that animated scene was terrible I thought, You could tell they had a sixty five minute movie and they just had someone throw that together in flash so they could release it.