Movie Review: Cabin Fever (2016)

For some reason unknown to me and surely many horror fans, the 2002 film Cabin Fever has already been remade after just 14 years. The original was a unique and great movie that made Eli Roth a household name in the horror genre. And this year, the remake was released and followed the original just about in every way.

Produced by Roth and directed by Travis Zariwny (Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon), this new take used the same shooting script as the original and was about 90% exactly like the original. Five friends take a trip to a secluded cabin for a refreshing getaway and unfortunately fall victims to a flesh-eating virus that has spread through the small town. The similarities, good and bad, are all throughout the movie. The differences were in the cast, the cabin, the effects, and in the overall quality of the film.

The first difference is the cast. This new group, from the five main characters to the supporting townsfolk, are inferior to the original. I connected with the original characters far more than I could with this group. The only one of the main characters that I enjoyed at all was Bert, and maybe that was more of liking the character. In the 2002 film, I wanted to see Ryder Strong survive. I felt for Jordan Ladd’s character. I enjoyed the goofiness of James DeBello’s Bert. I had no feeling’s for Cerina Vincent’s character and I absolutely couldn’t wait to see Joey Kern’s character die.

In this film, I didn’t care if any or all of them died. I didn’t feel a connection. Kern’s version of Jeff was the only real asshole in the original. After watching the new film, I felt like there were a few assholes and I didn’t really care if any of them survived.

As for the supporting characters, the young kid who yells “Pancakes!” was far, far inferior to the original. The townsfolk as well were not as good as the original. And the role of Deputy Winston, originally played by Giuseppe Andrews, was not as good. Although Louise Linton, who is the new female Winston, was very good in the role.

The setting was another difference as the cabin in the remake was different and felt more like a vacation house than a remote cabin in the woods. The bigger, fancier cabin took away from the feeling of desolation and grittiness that was present in the original. It wasn’t a huge impact on my thoughts of the film, but still made a difference.

The effects were also different, but didn’t really bother me either way. I think the effects of the original felt more like the horror I expected to see as opposed to the more realistic approach of the remake, but I didn’t let that bother me at all really. The 2002 film was Roth’s first and it felt like a movie that I would find on the shelves of a video store and rent because of the cover. The remake, like many do, chose to go for more realistic effects and it worked just fine. In the end, it was still a damn gory film.

The one positive that I did notice was the cinematography and some of the shots in the film. I thought the movie looked great and it was easy on the eyes to watch. From cut scenes to the beautiful scenery of the outdoors, the crew did a wonderful job. It was pretty disturbing how beautiful everything looked at first before the setting became a literal bloodbath.

In the end, if you haven’t seen the original version, I would recommend watching that one first. It is the superior film and will always be the better film in my opinion. But, if you are a horror fanatic like me, the remake is at least worth watching once. It is definitely not as good, but I don’t think it ever had the chance to match the original. With less than 20 years in between the two films, I do not believe that there has been enough time to have this film really stand on its own. If this remake had came out 20 or 30 after the original, the story might be different. But this film is hurt by the fact that it really is appealing to the same audience that the original did. I’m sure there are some new people to see the remake and never have watched Roth’s original. But for the most part, I think it will mostly gain the attention of fans of the 2002 film. And if that is the case, I believe most people will feel like I do and believe that it is just not as good as what Eli Roth gave us with his debut film.

Daryl Karpinski, Jr.