Movie Review: Cabin Fever (2016)

@suzebee04 reviews…

Director: Travis Zarwiny
Writers: Randy Pearlstein, Eli Roth
Starring: Gage Golightly, Matthew Daddario, Nadine Crocker, Dustin Ingram, Samuel Davis

I used to get angry about remakes for a variety of reasons. The biggest reason being, they just seemed unnecessary. Over the last few years I’ve come to accept them and realize, when handled correctly, some remakes can actually be better than the original (i.e. Maniac, The Hills Have Eyes). The flip side, when a filmmaker just wants to put a contemporary spin on a classic film and does a shot for shot redo, stirs my rage. I’m looking at you, The Omen and Psycho. In the case of the remake of Cabin Fever, it simply defies all of these things.

The original Cabin Fever, the film that introduced us to Eli Roth, was released in 2002, making it not quite 15 years old and therefore not really requiring updating. It’s not a foreign film so it doesn’t need to be Americanized. It was set up to be a shot for shot remake, which it turned out not to be. It is, however, exactly the same story with the same characters so there is nothing to give it any real distinction from the original. It was like watching a re-enactment on one of those reality crime shows.

The story: Five twenty-somethings rent a cabin in a remote location to drink and screw. Their relaxing week of solitude is sidelined when a flesh eating virus begins infecting them one by one.

Cabin Fever image

We have the horny couple, Jeff and Marcy (Matthew Daddario and Nadine Crocker), pretty Karen (Gage Golightly), who is keeping Paul (Samuel Davis) in the friend-zone, and Bert (Dustin Ingram), the fifth wheel. Bert invites the trouble by shooting the infected Henry (Randy Schulman), who later shows up at their cabin looking for help. The cast is unremarkable and unlikeable.

Zarwiny or Travis Z, as he’s billed, used Roth’s original script, changing very little. Deputy Winston, the unscrupulous officer who just wants to party, is now played by a female, but still exhibits the same voyeuristic, stoner behavior. Not successfully, I might add. The other noticeable change is the demise of one of the girls, which is drawn out and so disdainfully brutal, I questioned my decision to continue watching it. There is also a ridiculous homage to The Shining in the opening. I’m referring to the overhead shot of the car traveling up the mountain road with “Dies Irae” playing over it.

One of the other glaring problems is, even though it’s working from the same script, it takes itself a bit too seriously, removing the comedic element, which is part of the appeal of the original.

The question everyone seems to be asking is, why? Why was this made? Why would Eli Roth attach himself to this? It’s a question we may never have an adequate answer to. The original Cabin Fever will likely never be considered a classic and it’s not even a great film, but it’s a film that truly did not need a remake.

Suzanne Bell
Twitter: @suzebee04
Images: & RJMS

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