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Saturday, March 27, 2010

Cabin Fever 2: Spring Break (2009)

In 2002, Eli Roth released Cabin Fever, the kick in the ass the American film industry required. It was a film that pushed the boundaries of good taste. Reminiscent of 80's classicks from the brains of Peter Jackson, Stuart Gordon and David Cronenberg, in its depiction of horrid body horror. It also brought sex back into the genre – long lost in the flood of good mannered horror films that followed in the wake of Scream. It became a box-office smash and sex and violence was back on the menu.

The sequel to it, finally out for us to enjoy, has been troubled to say the least. Production started in 2007, but news of studio interference and re-shoots have been well publicised online and in genre magazines. Director Ti West went as far as to demand his name be removed from the finished product, the credit remains (due to him not being a Union member) but he refused to do any publicity on the film or appear at all on additional content for the DVD release. All did not look good...

The film opens with the survivor of the original, showing signs of severe infection, making their way from the riverbank in which they were left to rot. Stumbling through the woods they stumble out of the wilderness onto a road, at which point they are obliterated by a passing school bus! Deputy Wilson Olsen, the party mad young officer from the original, dismiss the incident and tells the driver that he's hit a moose – regardless of a boot, with some foot left in it, being found in a nearby tree. Deputy Wilson is about to have bigger problems though, Down Home Water has become contaminated by the flesh-eating virus after lifting water from an infected creek and is now in circulation.

The school bus returns back to school and the kids are all excited about the Prom. John and Alex are discussing weather or not to attend, John is in love with life-long friend Cassie but she has a violent boyfriend, Alex doesn't have anyone to invite but would rather go alone than stay home and watch the director's cut of Bride of the Cannibal God (which was banned in 29 countries no less “Can you even begin to comprehend that awesomeness?”) with some fellow horror geek's. Alex's luck changed though, stumbling upon an upset (and recently dumped) teen, he winds up getting blown in the toilet by the vengeful young lady – however there's a sore upon her lip and she's been drinking Down Home Water. Looks like his luck just changed for the worst. After some begging, Alex manages to talk John into attending the Prom... where Down Home Water is the water of choice! It's going to be a messy night.

Now, as much as the original Cabin Fever was a homage to 80's horror; it always struck me as more of a 70's homage, the fashion and the hair, the redkneck's and the overall approach struck me as 70's influenced. Cabin Fever 2 however, is very 80's. Ti West is in love with the decade (see House of the Devil) but how much of this is his doing we may never know; but the shaped flash-fades, the pace, the characterisation is all very 80's and it gives the film a charm that makes the audience forgive and forget the clich├ęs inherent with such genre-fare.

The overall juvenile attitude, and somewhat vile imagery, of the film may alienate some viewers; especially those looking for something with something to say: other than teens are obsessed with sex, but then again this IS the sequel to Cabin Fever so you should come with some notion of what to expect. Those in the mood for a good, old-school gross-out may find themselves presently surprised, fans of 80’s teen sex comedies should also take the plunge with this title, as it works well on that level too – horny teens doing themselves a mischief is always a hoot, especially when the climax is this gooey!

The films Achilles heel is slashed after the school has been shutdown by the military, it should have ended here but the film continues for what seems like an eternity. It smacks of cheap re-shoots and damages the film, however, the tone of these re-shoots does manage to capture that which Ti West had set up, so depending on how you react to the first hour or so, you may find yourself forgiving this tacked on finale and enjoying it for its crudeness (visually and the material depicted).

Where the film did surprise me, is in its acting. Noah Segan proves to be the star and impresses again, after his recent outing in Dead Girl. He’s a talented young actor who appears to have a genuine appreciation for the genre and I hope he continues to work within it once stardom comes knocking, which it no doubt will. The film is chock-full of likeable’s, even the Karate mad douche-bag boyfriend of Cassie is oddly likeable… in a love to hate sort of way! He checks off all the required nasty elements required for us to really dislike the guy.

Cabin Fever 2: Spring Fever is a pleasant(?) surprise, I was worried that it was truly going to be awful, the stories had taken away my hope and belief for the film so it's reassuring to know I was wrong and that we have a great little sequel here that actually leaves you wanting more from the franchise. Some may be turned off by this films approach, others will no doubt embrace it and some may even find themselves preferring this over the original. Recommended.

Purchase the DVD here.

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