Eli Roth’s debut film, Cabin Fever, will always have a solid spot in my ‘favorite horror movie’ list. I actually enjoyed it so much that I got excited when its sequel was originally announced. Could we be getting more amazing horror movie magic? Sadly, it was not to be as what was released as Cabin Fever 2: Spring Fever remains to this day one of the worst films I’ve ever seen. While the second sequel and third installment in the franchise had some redeeming qualities (see Cabin Fever: Patient Zero), it still wasn’t able to reach the greatness of Roth’s masterpiece. For some time, there were rumblings that another sequel was in the works, but that soon turned to news of a remake and while most horror fanatics wince at the mere mention of ‘remake,’ I for one, was excited once again, hoping that the great Cabin Fever legacy (at least that is what it has become in my head) could be revived.
Like its eponym, the 2016 version of Cabin Fever tells the story of five friends on a getaway far from technology and their normal, every day lives. The friends have big plans to party it up and just relax for a week. This all changes, however, once a sickly man arrives at the cabin, pleading for some much-needed help. Frightened by the mere appearance of the rotting man, the group quickly shuts him out, but not after he spreads as much of the disease as he can. Slowly, the friends become more and more ill and it becomes a fight to see who can survive the longest, causing them to turn on each other in what has become their greatest time of need.
Cabin Fever is not a shot-for-shot remake of its predecessor, but it is extremely close due to the fact that it uses Roth’s original screenplay. While it keeps the spirit of the 2002 film alive, this version, directed by Travis Zariwny, takes a step back from the comedic side of things and brings a more serious tone to the screen. I loved every bit of the funny stuff back in ’02, but I am extremely glad we got this darker version of the film. It manages to up the ante in all aspects — storytelling, conflict, and best of all, gore!
The original Cabin Fever had familiar faces with the likes of Rider Strong (television’s “Boy Meets World”) and James DeBello (Detroit Rock City). This time around, we are treated to a group of fresh faces, none of which I’ve personally seen before. This group of young actors consisting of Gage Golightly, Samuel Davis, Dustin Ingram, Nadine Crocker, and Matthew Daddario (whose older sister, Alexandria, is no stranger to horror either) are more than competent in their abilities, making the film a pleasure to watch. I love how they all start off as the best of friends, having known each other for many years, to becoming almost like enemies, fighting about everything, as they looked out for their best interest when things starting really getting bad around them. It goes to show just how we can react in situations that frighten us. Would you turn on the ones you love to save yourself from the same agonizing fate?
Cabin Fever did not need a remake, but then again, does any film in history really need to be redone, rebooted, or re-imagined? While the answer is a certain ‘no,’ I am not like most people and I don’t feel hatred take over me as soon as I hear or read the word ‘remake.’ I welcome most remakes and am extremely glad I gave this one a fair chance. Travis Z has done an amazing job breathing new life into a great horror film, allowing true fans to feel much better after the two failed sequels. I’m not sure if there are any plans to continue the Cabin Fever name after this, but quite frankly, it doesn’t matter. I would be more than satisfied for the franchise to end on this high note.
If you are a fan of the original, don’t ignore the existence of this 2016 reboot. It is well written (duh, it’s the same script as the first!), well acted, and the gore scenes are outstanding. Eli Roth put his stamp of approval on this one and so do I. Check it out for yourself and you will not be disappointed.
I give Cabin Fever 4.5 fallen off nipples out of 5.