Horror remakes have become so common that they’ve begun separating (or in this movie’s case, “quarantining”) into sub-categories. The “shot-by-shot” remake, for example, is pretty self-explanatory. 1998’s Psycho is still the best example of this, but now we have a very close second with 2016’s Cabin Fever. At least the two Psycho‘s went from black-and-white to color with nearly four decades between them. But the two Cabin Fever‘s are so skin-crawlingly similar, with barely a decade between them, that it makes one wonder if the producers, like the characters in the movie, were sick in the head with something.
Five friends drive to a cabin in the woods for a sexy and fun vacation. On their first night, a sickly man arrives at their door asking for their help, and in the panic, they accidentally light him on fire. Not long after, some of them start showing similar symptoms, and they begin turning on each other in a desperate attempt to stay alive.
Modern filmmaking techniques means this movie is as clean and pristine as you’d expect in this day and age. But for horror movies, particularly ones about diseases, you’d expect a grittier look in keeping with the tone they’re trying to achieve. Aside from the beautiful cinematography, quite a bit of the acting is seriously over-the-top. There can be good over-acting (funny) and bad over-acting (unintentionally funny). This movie is rife with the latter in every scene. Over-acting, mixed with overly-clean visuals, mixed with operatic music makes this seem more like an unintentional parody than a serious horror movie.
For those who don’t know, the original 2002 screenplay (with some minor tweaks) was used for this remake as well. Why? You’d have to ask Eli Roth. Basically it means different actors are attempting to recreate the same performances as the original actors, with a different director implementing their own style while simultaneously adhering to someone else’s creative decisions. And as you probably expected, the whole thing comes off as completely and totally empty. The characters have zero chemistry and it really doesn’t help that the three male leads look way too alike. The suspenseful scenes are faster-paced than the original, unintentionally robbing them of their suspense because they’re over so soon. This remake is so obsessed with sticking to the original script that they forgot to add things like suspense, coherency, likable characters, focus, horror, or even a reason to exist.
It’s usually not fair to rate a movie based on its similarity to another, but with remakes like this it’s nearly impossible to avoid. The original Cabin Fever, while hardly perfect, has become somewhat of a modern cult classic. And I do mean modern. The young and pretty actors from the original are still young and pretty today. Whatever possessed these guys to do the same movie again is hopefully out of their system forever. Strangely, if you’ve never seen the original, you’re likely to hate this remake just as much as if you had. But if you have, then all this remake will do is leave you asking one question over and over again: Why?
1 out of 5