Review by: Graeme Kay| Rating:
DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: 40-minute feature with director Eli
Roth; 'Beneath the Skin' behind-the-scenes featurette; The Rotten
Fruit; 5 separate audio commentaries featuring director, cast
and crew; Theatrical trailers.
HAVING just finished their final college exams, cool, stylish
Jeff (Joey Kern), sensitive and shy Paul (Rider Strong), sexy
cheerleader Karen (Jordan Ladd), foxy bitch Marcy (Cerena Vincent)
and unabashed lunkhead Bert (James DeBello), set off for a short
break at a cabin in the backwoods of some unspecified southern
On arriving at their destination, the ill-fated five are almost
immediately shaken out of their rural idyll by a visit from an
itinerent forest dweller, who is suffering from a nasty skin complaint
and asking for their help. But scared by his appearance the gang
chase him off.
It is not long, however, before Karen begins to display similar
symptoms to their uninvited guest, and starts to fall apart, literally.
This is the cue for a riot of gore and black comedy as the remaining
four friends, unsure about what it is that is ravaging Karen,
but certain that it threatens to kill them all, make increasingly
frenzied attempts to escape from their holiday home from hell.
Before making this film, director Eli Roth said that he studied
all his favourite horror films, from seminal directors such as
Sam Raimi (Evil Dead) and Tobe Hooper (Texas
Chainsaw Massacre), John Carpenter (The Thing), in order to
get a feel for how to structure a classic gore-fest.
The result is a film that, while looking and sounding exactly
right, in terms of retro-70s horror, just isnt scary. Principally
because while Roth has got the gallows humour and the grisly special
effects off to a tee, he hasnt quite got it right on the
While there is an abundance of blood and guts, and some sharp
observation about the way people behave when confronted by the
unknown, there is very little real psychological tension: the
horror comes mainly from a visual horror of watching the cast
disintegrate physically, rather than cerebral angle of having
them stalked by a malevolent presence (a la The Blair Witch Project).
The originality of casting a virus as the villain of the piece
is at the root of this failing, because while we all know that
flesh-eating organisms such as necrotising fascitis, or in this
case, the more virulent fotobacterum damsela, are horrendous,
a virus is unlikely to jump out of a wardrobe with an axe.
Thus, the viewer is never forced to put himself in the position
of one who is being pursued.
Eli Roth obviously has it in him to make a great horror film.
But this isnt it.