Don't Get Sick Again: “Cabin Fever” an inferior scene-for-scene do-over

Cabin Fever (2016)
99 min., not rated (but equivalent to an R).

Dooming five college kids in the woods with a flesh-eating virus, 2003’s gnarly, proudly blood-drenched and delightfully oddball “Cabin Fever” put director Eli Roth on the map. That film only came out thirteen years ago, which evidently means it’s time for someone to remake it, even after two non-theatrical sequels tried to capitalize on the first film with little success. Surprisingly, Roth gave his blessing and even executive produced, but did we really need a do-over that was already a homage to the backwoods splatter pics of the ‘70s and ‘80s? It’s something of a curiosity piece, primarily to see how close this one clings to the original and how different actors approach the material, but whether it’s worth the while of anyone who already got a kick out of Roth’s vision is another matter. Despite a few slight variations from Roth and Randy Pearlstein’s 2003 script, director Travis Zariwny (credited as Travis Z) hits all the same plot beats, scene for scene, like some road-company version. It’s still nasty, all right, but 2016’s “Cabin Fever” has to be one of the most unnecessary remakes to come down the pike in a while. At least Gus Van Sant’s “Psycho” (1998) felt like an ambitious experiment rather than a straight-up Xerox copy.

Perhaps you remember the story. Off to the Oregon woods for a little R&R without any phone service or even pot, five college dingbats first have a not-so-friendly encounter with the redneck general store owner and his “pancake!”-shouting son Dennis, who now wears a bunny mask out of a paper plate. Nice guy Paul (Samuel Davis) gets his hand bitten by Dennis and then Bert (Dustin Ingram), the beer-crushing doofus of the group, shop-lifts a Snickers bar. Once the group arrives to their rented cabin, the cruelly handsome Jeff (Matthew Daddario) and beautiful but edgy girlfriend Marcy (Nadine Crocker) get busy in the bedroom, while Paul tries to put the moves on longtime friend Karen (Gage Golightly) in the lake. Meanwhile, Bert replaces his gaming withdrawals with a rifle in the woods and comes across a local hermit who’s bleeding severely and infected with a virus. It’s not long before the sick man comes knocking at the cabin, asking for help but instead spreading his sickness to all five of the young things. Let the rotting begin, again. Read the rest of the review at Diabolique Magazine.