Like them or loathe them, horror remakes are a part of the genre and have been for as long as I can remember. If the original is a classic, the worst a remake can do is draw more attention to the original film – a good thing. If the original is terrible, then there is plenty of room for improvement. However Travis Z’s remake of Eli Roth’s 2002 film Cabin Fever is one remake I struggle to get behind. The world, technology and the genre has not significantly changed enough to do anything drastically different with Cabin Fever a mere fourteen years after the original. Therefore, the only reason this exists is pure, unadulterated cash-grabbing.
Whilst Roth’s original is far from a masterpiece, the director’s love for the genre was apparent in his references to everything from Deliverance to Cronenbergian body-horror. There was some artistic merit to be found for genre fans, whilst the crude humour and lashings of gore ensured that it was a significant treat for those simply looking for some Friday night shocks. Z’s remake lacks Roth’s genre-savvy meaning all that remains for him to tackle is lashings of gore whilst using Roth’s original screenplay with a few contemporary references chucked in to justify its existence e.g. references to Call of Duty.
For those that haven’t seen the original, Cabin Fever follows a group of young-adults planning a party week at an isolated lakeside house in rural North America. However a flesh eating virus breaks out, spiralling their lives into bloody chaos. We’d recap the plot of the remake too, but that’s it there. Z’s version is a humourless affair that has nothing to offer in terms of originality, scares or plot. It’s shot with a digital sheen, lacking the grimy cheapness that helped Roth’s original feel like a contemporary Video Nasty that could rightly sit on a shelf next to other shockers like Tobe Hooper’s The Texas Chain Saw Massace or Abel Ferrara’s Driller Killer. It looks modern. It looks cheap.
Now, the pros. Well Matthew Daddario is certainly easy on the eye. Louise Linton delivers some small town camp as the eye-patched Deputy Wilson. The gore is pretty nasty – despite mimicking most of its shock tactics from Roth’s original.
There is really no reason to watch Cabin Fever unless you’re desperate to catch a glimpse of Matthew shirtless (don’t worry I’ve screencapped that for you after the trailer). It’s an uninspired retread of Roth’s grimier original that makes no attempt to put its own unique spin on proceedings. In short, there is no reason for this to exist.