Like The Blair Witch Project, this low-budget shocker by Eli Roth generated a substantial buzz on the festival circuit, and though its cheap scare tactics pale in comparison to the earlier film's creeping paranoia, it clearly has more on its mind than the usual trash horror flick. Five college grads venture into the North Carolina backwoods for a week of fun and frolic, but after a derelict infects one of them with a flesh-eating virus they begin to turn on each other. A protege of David Lynch, Roth puts a sardonic spin on the puritanism of the 80s slasher (when one timid teen finally slides a hand up his sweetheart's leg, it lands in a patch of rotten flesh), and the dehumanizing survival politics reminded me of George Romero's epidemic nightmare The Crazies. Less impressive is the hillbilly shtick, despite a fine comic turn by Giuseppe Andrews as a young sheriff's deputy obsessed with beer, pot, and high school girls. 94 min.
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