It’s easy to look at Travis Z’s remake of Eli Roth’s Cabin Fever as a pointless exercise. Leaving aside the fact that the original film was released as recently as 2002, the film uses the same script as Roth’s movie, with the only major diversion from the source being the removal of the comedy elements. Still, there was something kind of intriguing about the idea, and as fans of the original we were curious to see whether there was in fact something worthwhile to be found in this retelling. Sadly, the answer is no.
For the uninitiated, Cabin Fever finds five college graduates heading to a cabin in the woods for a break filled with sex and beer. On their first night, they’re attacked by a crazed hermit suffering from some kind of gruesome illness, and in their panic, the kids kill him. Stranded without a car or phone signal, they realise the terror isn’t over, and that there’s something in the water.
First things first: the original film was a horror with comedy elements, not a comedy, so this is not as radical a reworking as you might think. Although perhaps it is, as it turns out that removing the sense of humour makes the whole thing feel a lot more clunky and unpleasant. In a post-Cabin In The Woods world, you would hope that there’s a great sincere cabin in the woods movie to be made, but this isn’t it.
Fitting in alongside the lack of humour is an increase in blood and guts that really comes into play in the film’s final third, but given that it’s working from the same script, these gruesome set pieces don’t feel scary or shocking; they simply feel cruel.
Of the cast, only Nadine Crocker as the reasonable Marcy really makes an impression, although Dustin Ingram’s Bert occasionally gets a giggle. The gender-swapped role of Deputy Winston pretty much is one of the film’s biggest changes, but that character doesn’t work without Giuseppe Andrews’ off-kilter charm.
This new vision is produced by Roth, but the stamp of approval isn’t a guarantee of quality. It just makes the whole thing seem as cynical as it is dull.