'Cabin Fever' (2016)

Cabin Fever (2016)

Synopsis: A remake of the Eli Roth film of the same name about a group of friends who encounter a flesh-eating virus while staying at a lakeside cabin.

Cast:  Samuel Davis, Gage Golightly, Matthew Daddario, Nadine Crocker, Dustin Ingram, Louise Linton

Director: Travis Zariwny

Studio: IFC Midnight

MPAA Rating: NR

Running Time: 99 minutes

Release Date: February 12, 2016 (in theaters and on demand)

The Plot

Stop me if you've heard this before: five friends travel to a cabin in the woods for a getaway, only to come in contact with a contagious, flesh-eating virus. Stuck with a disabled vehicle, they make tough decisions about who they can trust, who they can save and how they can avoid being the next one to contract the disease.

The End Result

Other than Eli Roth, who directed the original and produced this film, I don't know who would be yearning for a remake of Cabin Fever. It was released recently enough (12 years ago) to still be fresh in people's minds, so nostalgia isn't really a factor. It achieved enough mainstream exposure ($33 million US box office) that lack of awareness isn't an issue. And it's been generally well received by audiences, particularly genre fans, so there's little sense of missed opportunities from the original. So why are we now faced with this celluloid flesh-eating virus, spreading where no one wants it to go?

The only thing I can think of is that Roth, who had no involvement with the Cabin Fever sequel and prequel -- both of which were panned (somewhat unfairly, in my opinion) by critics and viewers alike -- wanted to place his fingerprints back on the franchise and right the ship with a reboot. Mission failed.

If this was Roth's aim, I actually have no problem with it, but why not write a new script? This remake hews so closely to the original, it borders on the pointlessness of Gus Van Sant's shot-for-shot Psycho remake, repeating even inconsequential moments like the stealing of a Snickers bar and the lighting of a campfire. Frankly, it's not as if Cabin Fever is such a pristine classic it's difficult to find anything worth correcting. It's plenty flawed -- full of stupid characters doing stupid things -- but there's a sense of campy fun underlying it all that, combined with the contagion paranoia and grisliness, makes the original entertaining.

The remake, for some reason that can only be explained by a brain-eating virus, decides to remove practically all of the campiness, rendering memorable scenes like the campfire story and PANCAKES inert and humorless. It's like remaking a comedy but removing all of the funny moments.

While the dialogue isn't exactly the same as the original -- there are references to cell phones, for instance, which were much less of an option in 2003 -- almost every scene from the first film is recreated until the final 15 minutes or so, when the remake manages to display a hint of independent thought. Unfortunately, every choice to alter the storyline fails miserably, coming off as nonsensical, mean-spirited or again, overly serious.

Cabin Fever is another stinker on Roth's dubious post- track record as director/producer.

The Skinny

  • Acting: D+ (Bland, unmemorable cast fails to deliver on the few chances for humor.)
  • Direction: C- (Attractive shots of scenery but fails to elicit good performances or take advantage of any comedic potential.)
  • Script: F (Lazily uses the same script, altering a bit of dialogue, removing practically all humor and botching the ending.)
  • Gore/Effects: B- (Good gore, but we saw it all the first time.)
  • Overall: D+ (A tepid, slavish, poorly conceived remake that saps all the fun out of the original film.)

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