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Cabin Fever (2002)
A flick about human stupidity and urban fear of the contry folk
Today I took in a double feature of first run films. Jeepers Creepers 2 and Cabin fever. I chose to watch JC2 because I was "saving the best for last". I had heard a TON of good things about the film Cabin Fever and was actually looking forward to seeing it. I often agree with the reviews in the NY Times (though not always) and there were several other reviews comparing it to that of Evil Dead 2, etc... In the end I found myself curious as to what movie they were watching.
*** The following is to discuss plot elements within the movie and does contain spoilers ***
I like a good horror flick. No, wait.. I LOVE a good horror flick. But the probability of finding a good one is growing more and more dismal. What writers/directors/producers seem to forget is the fact that it's not the blood and gore, though fun and cool in and of itself, which scares people. It's the ability to relate to the main characters then feel for them as they face the horrors presented in the course of the films. To this end I believe Eli Roth started off quite well. I went to college. While there I went on various road outings with my friends. Camping, Spring Break, Mardi Gras, etc... Yes at this point I can relate. I imagine most other people can to since I am not the single target audience on the United States of America. Where things began to go wrong for me was when the entire group was approached by the first infected man. Not a one of them had a rational thought. Now of course in the heat of the moment they all could have had a group panic that resulted the way it did. Fine. But then the movie proceeds with each main character making a series of idiotic decisions which can only be explained away as methods to keep the plot moving.
For example, if my friends were in danger I would not hesitate to walk 5 miles, 10 miles, even 100 miles at night down a country road to find any sort of help what so ever. But the actors in this film walk to a house in broad daylight, find it empty and decide to go back to the cabin to drink beer. Also upon finding that their friend is infected with a serious disease decide to stick her in a shed then wait till morning to seek help. Hello, start walking someone! So yes there was the plot element of the mad dog that might have been placed there to keep them in the house or something. Give me a break. Also if they are so afraid to catch what the blond chick had why didn't they quarantine her in the room she had already bled in so much? Why move her to a shed? It's not like they are going to sleep in that bed. It wasn't gallows humor, it was just dumb. Also after being in the shed for more than a day instead of hitting the pavement during daytime and walking to the nearest town to find help, the love interest of the blond and some other chick decide to have sex. These events and the events similar lead me to one conclusion. Eli Roth made a film portraying humans in general as being selfish.
Should I disagree? Should I impose upon Roth's vision of general natural human selfishness by saying at least one person should have been selfless and tried to help their comrade? The answer is no. As an artistic vision if the Writer/Director wishes to deliver a certain message then so be it. That's what art is all about right? But then other problems arise in the course of this film that go beyond artistic license and enter the realm of stupidity. Eli Roth also wishes to add an element of urban fear of the rural folk. By rural folk I don't only mean the hillbillies that run the local shop and teach their young retarded children Wu-Shu Kung fu, but also the law enforcement agencies. When the law learns of the disease the put out a radio call to shoot anyone they see infected on sight. Ummm, yeah. Then when they actually have one at the hospital the local physician suggest they take him to a bigger hospital, where the sheriff decides it'd be better to have the infected person killed. Ummm, right. What about the Centers For Disease control in Atlanta? EVERY law enforcement agency in America knows about this. EVERY hospital big or small knows about this. If an infectious disease breaks out they leap at the freaking phone in an effort to get it off their hands and get the hell out of dodge. It wasn't even mentioned and explained away in the film. It's just stupid stupid stupid. Stupid. Did I say stupid? It was ignored to create the silly irony at the end of the film. I don't know what's more goofy about that ending. The fact that the body was bleeding out into the river which would then contaminate the lemonade... or that those dumb kids found it easier to fill a 9 gallon Gatorade cooler with river water than just run tap water into it! How do you make lemonade from river water with leaves and fish and water moccasins and crap? What is this? Funny?
Funny is the noise I made when the black people finally showed up. Actually no I'm not even going to touch that. That was just an ill-conceived disaster.
Sorry if there are allot of type errors in this. I wrote it quickly and I'm fairly sure that my 8th grade English teacher would berate me for not having a driving focus through out this commentary. I suppose this is just my general disappointment with the film. What surprised me after my little movie marathon was that I found I disliked JC2 allot. But I expected to. What was unexpected was my dislike of Cabin Fever. That took me by surprise. Sadly.
Extreme Ops (2002)
Not as bad as it sounds.
I went into watching this assuming it would be a shoddy cheap attempt to bank off of the <i>xXx</i> success. And you know that may very well be the case. But perhaps because of my mood or something, I found the movie to be extremely fun. Extreme goofy idea and plot constructs. Extreme impossible characters. Extreme over used techno dance music. All brought together in one Extreme formula type movie.
Oh my gosh this sounds negative, am I writing a negative review? No. I enjoyed the characters, I enjoyed the pacing and I enjoyed the scenes. I didn't expect much and got more than I expected. FUN! I even found myself feeling for the geek stereotype and his crush on the antisocial punker girl stoner stereotype. I even found myself somewhat rooting for the world games gold medalist downhill skiier who's too much a tight arse to ski a virgin slope.
I've seen and know bad films. Last years <i>Ballistic</i> with Bandaras and Liu was so painful in it's brainless plot archs and crappalicious acting that it forced me to write an evil review on imdb out of conscience. That movie was brainlessness trying to appear smart. This movie was realistic in it's endeavors; fun scenes with light plot drawing it together. And believe it or not this movie shows better character construction than the afore mentioned <i>Ballistic</i>.
See this movie with a good mood expecting only fun.
Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever (2002)
Negative review *spoiler warning*
This is a review chock full of spoilers. I find it difficult to express why I disliked this film as much as I did without expressly pointing out key scenes and events that made me cringe while attempting to enjoy a thoughtless summer film. I did approch this film as just that. I am a guy who likes a thoughtless action film more often than not. I love thoughtful ones but the thoughtless ones can truly be fun. xXx comes to mind. I was expecting something along those lines when I came to see Ballistic. What it turned out to be was a number of explosions that seemed to occur for no reason what so ever. To say there was little plot bringing these explosions together is a given. That comes with the territory, but in this case the reasons are even below the lowest C movie in quality. No one reacts to an event the way you'd expect a normal human being to react. In fact the two main characters were so devoid oh personality I have come to wonder whether or not they were both blackmailed into performing the roles. I'm used to Lucy Liu not showing any on screen personality but Antonio consistently show's his "Latin Lover" charm. Not here.
* spoilers begin below *
Everyone is out to get Lucy Liu. No one seems to know where to find her. In fact they need to draw an FBI agent 7 years out of retirement to capture her. His groundbreaking method of investigation is to sit in a car listen to a radio and carry on dull conversations with secondary characters. Meanwhile across town Lucy Liu is walking in circles for no reason in a coffee bar. The bad guys know this and have snipers set up all over the place that would make the Kennedy assassination look like amateur night. How is it that they don't know where she hides out but knows when and where she's going to walk in circles? After giving the order not to hurt her immediately all snipers try to kill her and an overly armed SWAT team hit's the scene. By overly armed I mean they have grenade launchers and heavy machine-guns all designed to kill as many innocent bystanders as possible. In fact the FX crew even botched the way rifle mounted grenade launches work and turned them into mini rocket launchers. But fear not, they don't use them. They are just there for Lucy to pick up and level 12 city blocks with. I often wondered how it is if she were so professional she'd stand in one place and take on an army rather than just slip away in the crowd.
Once the mayhem is complete Antonio arrives glances at a few bullet holes and declares that the FBI should pick up and not investigate the devastation because `she's not done here.' I was able to relate to the FBI assistant directors baffled expression in this scene because I wouldn't know what to say to one of my agents who asked me to pull out all of my investigators cause the criminal might be coming back. Wouldn't you want to catch her?
Skipping ahead to what I assume is the largest injustice here. Antonio finds his wife to learn that for the past 7 years she was in bed with the big bad guy of the film. Married to him in fact. He confronts her in an aquarium while she is contentedly looking at whales, which must be where she goes whenever her son is kidnapped and threatened to be killed within 12 hours. And she also proceeded to have Antonio's son, who has been raised by her and the man who;
1) Tried to hill Antonio's character.
2) Faked the death of himself and Antonio's wife in an effort to `have her to himself'. Which evidently worked for 7 years.
When confronted she reveals that she had knowledge that Antonio was not dead and in fact always really loved him and not the big villain. She only stayed with him to `protect their son'. By having the son live with this guy? Give me a break! But what's worse is Antonio's reaction. He instantly understands and forgives her. No anger, no slap for her lack of logic. It's all OK. Lets go get the bad guy now. Honestly that ended the film for me. I was through.