Paul & Marcy refers to a brief, but passionate physical relationship that occurred in the movie Cabin Fever, as well as the 2016 reboot. Fan works may lean on either of these movies as their source material.
Paul (portrayed by Rider Strong) and Marcy (Cerina Vincent) were among a group of 5 college students who went on a vacation to an isolated cabin in the woods. Marcy was Jeff's girlfriend at the beginning of the trip, while Paul was secretly in love with his childhood friend Karen and held hopes that he could begin a relationship with her during the vacation.
A series of disturbing events fueled panic and disunity among the group. First, a vagrant with a Flesh-Eating Virus arrived at the cabin, provoking a fight in which the group accidentally set him on fire, killing him. Then they discovered that a large, aggressive dog was roaming the surrounding woods, making it unsafe for anybody to leave the cabin. Finally, the group discovered that Karen was infected by the vagrant's disease when she developed bloody sores and became gravely ill.
Eventually, the group broke apart with a heated argument, after realizing that Karen was too sick for them to drive her to a hospital. Jeff ran off in to the woods alone to avoid being infected by anyone else, effectively ending his relationship with Marcy. Bert, the 5th member of the group, drove off to a general store the group visited at the start of their vacation, where he intended to summon help for Karen.
- “It's like being on a plane when you know it's gonna crash. Everyone around you is screaming, yelling, 'We're going down! We're going down!' And all you really wanna do is grab the person next to you and f*** the s*** out of them, because you know you're gonna be dead soon, anyway.”
Unknown to either of them, Marcy was actually infected with the disease by this point, but she had not developed symptoms. Paul expressed concern that they were not using a condom while they were having sex, but Marcy (incorrectly) assured him that she was healthy. As a consequence of this mistake, Marcy passed the disease to Paul.
Paul immediately regretted sleeping with Marcy. Not trusting her previous assurance of being healthy, he attempted to disinfect his genitals with mouthwash as soon as they had finished. Shortly afterward, Marcy discovered red marks on her back (which were the earliest symptoms of the disease), but blamed Paul for causing them by being too rough with her as a lover.Paul was extremely uncomfortable being around Marcy after sleeping with her and soon left the cabin, claiming that he intended to go find Jeff (though this was later proven to be a lie). Marcy pleaded with him to stay with her in the cabin, but he refused.
She later realized beyond doubt that she was infected with the disease, when she discovered huge sores on her legs. In a panic, she ran out of the cabin where she was quickly cornered by the aggressive dog and mauled to death. Paul heard her screams and raced back to the cabin, but was too late to save her. He discovered her remains and was almost killed by the dog himself, but he was able to shoot it dead before it reached him.
After numerous other misadventures, Paul, now completely riddled with the disease, staggered out of the woods and in to the path of a school bus, which subsequently struck and killed him.Samuel Davis and Nadine Crocker, respectively, for the 2016 reboot of the franchise.
The chronology of their relationship, and even the relevant dialogue related to it differs very little from the original movie.
However, the reboot differs substantially in terms of the tone in which their sexual relationship is portrayed in numerous ways:
- Marcy spends her last night in the cabin with Jeff, while Paul spends it alone. In essence, there is no 'foreshadowing' of their eventual relationship.
- It is implied that several hours pass between Jeff and Bert fleeing the cabin and Marcy and Paul having sex, as the weather changes significantly between these events. Nothing in the original suggested there was any more than a few minutes between Jeff leaving and Marcy & Paul sleeping together.
- Their sexual encounter now takes place in the cabin's kitchen, rather than Marcy and Jeff's bedroom.
- While Marcy is still the instigating partner, she is no longer the decisively dominant partner. Paul is just as engaged in their activity as Marcy, right from the beginning. They both seem to mutually choose to have sex, as opposed to the original when Marcy is shown aggressively seducing and bedding Paul, who seems reluctant when they begin.
- The full course of events from Marcy suggesting they have sex, to them actually having sex is show. They begin by hugging one another tenderly, then kissing with increasing passion, before undressing and having sex. The original simply cut to Marcy throwing Paul (both naked) on to the bed immediately after she brought up the subject of sleeping with him. The reboot reflects a more tender and affectionate vibe between the lovers with its slower progression towards them eventually having sex.
- Condoms (or the absence thereof) are not mentioned at all in this version. Again, Paul is more engaged in the encounter in the reboot, whereas he was concerned about contracting the disease from Marcy in the original. As in the original, Marcy is infected before they had sex and Paul is not. But the reboot downplays any suggestion that Marcy may have been infecting Paul by having unsafe sex with him.
- The brief breakaway shot that separates Marcy and Paul's sex scene is a shot of Jeff sitting all alone in a shed. The breakaway shot in the original was of Karen laying on a bloody mattress in a shed. This makes for a less disparaging portrayal of Paul and Marcy's relationship in the reboot; the original emphasized how they were leaving their sick friend untended while they slept together, whereas the reboot emphasizes how all their friends have abandoned them, leaving them with nobody but each other to rely on.
- The reveal of Marcy's sickness during their sexual encounter is more obvious and more gruesome. Though, once again, neither of them notice her sickly scratch marks until some time after they finish having sex.
- The background music to their sexual encounter reflects the passion/intensity of their relationship, as opposed to the soundtrack of the original scene, which reflected the sinister matter of Marcy passing her illness to Paul. Again, the implications that Marcy was infecting Paul when they had sex are downplayed in the reboot.
- The follow-up scene where Paul cleanses his genitals with listerine was removed entirely. He doesn't seem to harbor any concerns for his own health as a result of having sex with Marcy, nor does he seem to resent her or regret sleeping with her. As with several of the above points, this was an element of the 'transmission of the infection' theme that was completely cut from this new version of their sex scene.
- Marcy is in no doubt that the marks Paul leaves on her back are symptoms of the disease. Paul now gets a clear look at the obviously infected wounds before he leaves the cabin and thus likewise realizes that Marcy is sick, too. Marcy still tells Paul, "You really did a number on my back!", but the remark is clearly made as an expression of her distress, and not an attempt to shift the blame for her injuries from the disease to Paul.
- Paul leaving the cabin doesn't appear to be driven by resentment towards Marcy or regret over sleeping with her. In fact, discovering Marcy's back wounds is what motivates him to leave. He isn't leaving to escape Marcy, he's leaving because he cares for her and he knows he needs to get her urgent help. He even instructs Marcy to follow him, though Marcy doesn't obey.
Once again, their relationship concludes when Paul leaves the cabin. Marcy dies before they can meet again.
Generally, the reboot conveys a much more favorable depiction of Marcy and Paul's intimate relationship. It conveys an impression of 2 distraught people offering each other comfort and companionship, after they have suffered grave misfortune and been abandoned by all their friends. It emphasizes more the wrongs that have been done to Paul and Marcy, not the wrongs they are doing by sleeping together, and even adds a somewhat victorious connotation to them forging a partnership at this point (before instantly removing this victory by revealing Marcy is sick).
Contrary to the original, the long-term relationship between the two doesn't seem to have been damaged by their impulsive decision to have sex. There are even indications that having sex strengthened their bond.
The reboot's Marcy and Paul seemed to have had a good chance at subsequently become a couple, had they both survived the events of the movie. The same cannot be said of the original's Marcy and Paul.
Theories And Speculation
Several ambiguous elements surrounding Paul and Marcy’s brief relationship, particularly in the original movie, have led to numerous unverifiable theories amongst ”Cabin Fever” fans.
Marcy Planned To Seduce Paul Well Before He Found Her
Some fans take the fact that Marcy was sitting on her bed when Paul found her as an indication that she intended to sleep with him for some time and that her decision wasn’t at all impulsive as their conversation seemed to imply. With nobody else around, Marcy knew that Paul was bound to come looking for her sooner or later, so she only needed to wait on the bed where sleeping with him would be the most comfortable.
Coupled together with the next fan theory, some fans believe that Marcy’s decision to sleep with Paul may have happened within a few minutes of Jeff walking out on her.
This theory isn’t well suited to the remake, where Marcy seduces Paul in the kitchen and they end up making love on a counter top.
Marcy Slept With Paul To Get Back At Jeff
Supporters of this theory support it with a bitter remark that Marcy makes just before sleeping with Paul, ”Jeff’s out in the woods getting drunk.”, which showed he was clearly on her mind shortly before she came on to Paul. It was also abundantly clear, in the scene where Jeff walks out on Marcy, that he hurt her greatly.
Some have also pointed out that her aggressive manner in bed with Paul (e.g. holding him down so firmly he couldn’t move) could suggest she was feeling quite angry at the time.
While it is impossible to know what exactly was going on in Marcy’s head before, during and after she slept with Paul, it seems quite plausible that wanting to lash out at her ex-boyfriend played a role in her choice to sleep with Paul.
Marcy Didn’t Really Believe She Was Healthy
Her speech beforehand strongly suggests that she’d resigned herself to the idea that the disease would kill her soon. This doesn’t necessarily mean that she knew she was already infected when she slept with Paul. But at the very least she was probably aware that her health was questionable at best.
Fans have noted that her assurance to Paul that she was safe seemed disingenuous and thoughtless. Also, even if she was confident in her own health, she couldn’t possibly have been as confident in Paul’s health. Thus, a condom should’ve offered her protection as well, not only from the virus, but also from the risk of getting pregnant. The fact that neither of these risks concerned her suggest that she wasn’t confident she was healthy.
Marcy Knew She Was Sick And Deliberately Infected Paul
The most extreme version of the previous fan theory. Under this theory, Marcy had unprotected sex with Paul in a deliberate effort to ensure he would be sick, too. Her supposed motivation is that she knows that she’s dying and she doesn’t want to die alone. After Jeff and Bert have fled the cabin, Marcy fears that Paul might leave soon as well, if she begins to show symptoms of the disease. But if Paul is sick, there would be no point in him fleeing and he would stay with her.
Fans have noted that Marcy’s illness is actually revealed previously in the movie, with a rash briefly seen on her wrist. However, whether Marcy noticed this rash herself and realized what it meant is uncertain.
Paul’s Phantom Watch
By far the biggest mystery surrounding Paul and Marcy’s relationship is the fact that Paul’s wristwatch suddenly appears on his wrist. Their sex scene is divided in to 2 segments. In the first, Paul’s left wrist is seen and it is bare. In the second, he is wearing a watch.
Generally, this problem is acknowledged as a goof on the part of the filmmakers and is otherwise dismissed by ”Cabin Fever” fans.
But some fans have tried to come up with an in-universe explanation for the watch’s appearance. One of the leading theories is that the sex scene shown in the movie is actually 2 separate sexual encounters between Marcy and Paul. Supposedly, the first half of the scene shows them beginning to have sex for the first time. Then, off camera, they finish and rest. Paul gets up and starts to get dressed (i.e. he puts on his watch), before Marcy seduces him again and they sleep together a second time. The final part of the scene actually depicts the end of this second sexual encounter.
Supporters of this theory have also noted that it would be difficult for Paul to free his arms from the hold Marcy has upon them unless there was a break in their lovemaking between the 2 halves of the scene.
Their Relationship Before Sleeping Together
The original movie is very ambiguous regarding the state of Paul and Marcy’s relationship in the immediate lead-up to them sleeping together. Fans seem to be divided in their opinions. Some believe that the development of their sexual relationship is as rapid as it appears . Others believe that Marcy and Paul had become close friends, especially in the 24 hours immediately prior to them having sex. Some even go so far as to speculate there might have been a budding romance between them.These are some of the canon facts that fans who believe in a romance usually draw upon to support their stance:
- Marcy potentially saved Paul’s life the previous afternoon, by scaring off the mad dog, Dr. Mambo, with a rifle.
- Marcy’s relationship with Jeff was clearly falling apart well before he actually walked out on her. They were arguing a lot and Marcy seemed annoyed or even disgusted with how Jeff’s cowardly aversion to the disease, Karen and all his other potentially-infected friends. She was even shown pulling away when he tried to touch her.
- During a heated argument among the group, Marcy takes Paul’s side. Jeff offers a biting criticism of her siding with Paul. Some fans think he sounds jealous of her closer friendship with Paul at this point.
- (Director’s Cut only): A very important scene shows that Marcy and Paul slept together (i.e. literally just slept), fully clothed, in the same bed the night before they had sex. How they came to settle on this sleeping arrangement was never explained.
- In all the scenes show of the morning before Paul has sex with Marcy, they are almost always together. They tend to Karen’s needs as a unified team.
Fans have suggested that Karen plays a major role in bringing Marcy and Paul together as, out of the 4 remaining healthy people, Marcy and Paul are clearly the ones who care about Karen the most. When Karen falls violently ill, Marcy and Paul both clean her up and comfort her, in spite of the risk to their own health, while Bert and Jeff swiftly flee the scene. Fans suggest that by the time they had sex, Paul and Marcy had come to realize that the only people they could count for the much-needed assistance they needed with Karen was each other and this mutual trust was a powerful bonding factor for them.
The two different movies offer two very different levels of weight to this theory, particularly in terms of how they handle the escalation of Paul and Marcy’s relationship into being lovers. The original portrayed the encounter as being purely casual sex, with little to no emotional connection involved, whereas the remake portrayed a stronger sense of emotional intimacy between Paul and Marcy as they made love. The remake also portrays a subtext of mutual comforting and reassurance in their lovemaking – both of which would lead to or strengthen a meaningful emotional connection between the two of them.
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- Extra scenes in the director's cut (of the original) show the gradual development of a relationship between Paul and Marcy in the lead-up to their ultimate physical encounter. One scene in particular shows Jeff sleeping all alone (presumably because he is unwilling to share a bed with Marcy who might be infected), while Marcy shares a bed with Paul. These scenes are missing in other releases of the film, making their decision to sleep together seem even more random.
- In both versions of their sex scene, the color scale of the video is in some way noticeably subdued. In the original, the scene is quite dark. In the remake the color saturation is significantly toned down, making Paul, Marcy and their surroundings look quite pale.
- Their relationship, and more specifically the fact that their vigorous lovemaking brought out rashes/wounds on Marcy’s back, played a notable role in the promotional images for both versions of the movie. Both movies had posters featuring Marcy’s bare back, showing the words “Cabin Fever” marked upon it with bloody scratches.
- Also, one of the catchphrases used to promote the remake is “They’re all going to get it”, a paraphrasing of one of Marcy’s lines in the lead-up to her sleeping with Paul.