Riddle me this – why remake Cabin Fever, a cult-classic that demands no update, and furthermore, why use the SAME stinkin’ script? It’s only been 15 years since Eli Roth launched his gory brand through this little creepshow, and each victim’s festering wounds still hold up surprisingly well against today’s effects, both indie and mainstream.
Granted, Roth does lodge a producing credit, so new director Travis Zariwny is in good graces, but original ideas are already disappointingly scarce enough. There’s no plausible reason to throw a movie we’ve already seen into the 2016 horror mix. No matter how trivial both sequels might have been, at least they attempted something DIFFERENT. Don’t believe the marketing campaign for Cabin Fever (2016), and its claims that new kill sequences revamp Roth’s infectious brainchild. This is the ultimate remake cash-grab, in the most unnecessary of ways.
Do I need to run a plot recap here? You’ve seen Roth’s Cabin Fever (I’m assuming), so you already know exactly how Zariwny’s copy plays out. Only a few minuscule changes alter insignificant, grisly details, but storylines never change trajectory from Roth’s original campfire nightmare.
As expected, some fresh, mostly unknown actors provide new faces for Zariwny to disfigure. Samuel Davis steps in as Paul, formerly played by Rider Strong, while Alexandra Daddario’s little brother, Matthew, becomes the new Jeff. Gage Golightly suffers as Karen, Nadine Crocker gets naked as Marcy, and Dustin Ingram takes up fifth-wheel duties as Bert. Same character names, same motivations, same relationships – in other words, the same Cabin Fever.
So what’s the most enthusiastic case Cabin Fever makes to justify a remake with no imagination? Social media inclusion, of course! Roth’s film OBVIOUSLY lacked shots of Karen uploading selfies to her Facebook, so it makes complete sense to remake the entire film with these 30-second inclusions! *Sigh* Seriously – that’s the biggest addition I can differentiate here. Even the gore and deaths are pretty much mirrored violence, highlighting laziness when creativity could have provided some much-needed ingenuity. Follow the script verbatim, fine – but at LEAST shake up the grossest moments.
Atmospherically, Zariwny does discover some luscious scenery compared to Roth’s dirtier original. The titular cabin is more of a vacation home this time around, and instead of fallen leaves littering the ground, mossy green openings provide a visual upgrade. Roth’s film is more of a rustic affair, while Zariwny puts more effort into vivid outdoorsy settings – so at lest the characters feel like they’re inhabiting a new space. Beauty doesn’t spell forgiveness, though, and little tastes of eye candy don’t solely warrant a remake.
To really throw viewers for a loop, Zariwny gender-swaps the party-hearty Deputy Winston, who was previously played by Giuseppe Andrews. This time around, blonde bombshell Louise Linton steps in as the creepy law(wo)man, but her soft features and underplayed style are everything BUT creepy. Andrews perfectly toes a line between goofy comic relief and unnerving stalker, which is the same line Linton strives to find, yet never does. Points for attempting this drastic casting switcheroo, but Zariwny’s new Deputy Winston just doesn’t stick her landing.
Cutting to the horror portion of Cabin Fever (er…THIS Cabin Fever, I mean), oozing infections once again tear flesh from bone. Paul’s blood-covered hand will still make horny boys shudder in fear, and Marcy’s bathtub “shedding” scene is a glimpse of titty-torture capable of killing any R-rated boner. But, again – there’s NOTHING NEW. Zariwny simply proves he can recreate madness, not that he can dream up his own.
After presenting my opinion, I’ll ask one final time – “Why?” Movies like Turbo Kid, Deathgasm, Spring, and more have proven that creativity is alive and well, but so many equally explosive ideas never find the proper, deserving funding. Knowing that all those movies were passed on to make 2016’s Cabin Fever, a remake that runs on inexplicable levels of “why the hell is this happening,” is, in a matter of words, SO F*&KING FRUSTRATING. Remakes have their place, in an attempt to resurrect lesser-known gems that are DESPERATE for a REVITALIZED upgrade (Maniac, anyone?), but Cabin Fever is the lowest form of homage. You can find much worse quality elsewhere, I’ll admit, but there’s absolutely no value here for fans of the original – which is superior in every way.
If you've seen Eli Roth's Cabin Fever, there's no need to watch this 2016 remake. If you HAVEN'T seen Roth's Cabin Fever, start there, and re-read my previous sentence.