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Review: Cabin Fever


Richard Cosgrove heads into the woods to see whether Eli Roth's remake of Cabin Fever should be avoided like the plague...

Eli Roth’s Cabin Fever was something of a breath of fresh air when it came out back in 2002, his debut feature displaying an obvious love of the genre while playing it just serious enough to provide an alternative to the slew of self-aware clones of Wes Craven’s Scream trilogy that had concluded two years previously.

It wasn’t a perfect film, but it was enjoyable and sufficiently gory to appeal to the horror crowd, and holds up to the day as a great Saturday night fright flick to watch with a pizza and a few beers. Quite why Roth, who is a producer on the film (one of seventeen!), decided that it needed a remake, then, is puzzling. The original came out only fourteen years ago, which is a short time frame to be remaking or rebooting a franchise (unless it’s Spider-man, of course, which has been rebooted twice in that time), and there was nothing fundamentally wrong with it that could obviously be changed to fashion it into a superior take on the tale.

The fact that the script for this new version is actually the very same script as the original, albeit trimmed off some of its fat and a notable off-colour joke that might perhaps not stand up so well today, makes no sense either, as why create a virtually shot for shot facsimile of a film unless you’re going to do something radical with the production values, or perhaps making a 3D take on it? Did we learn nothing from Gus Van Sant’s pointless and redundant 1998 Psycho remake which may have added colour but also somehow sucked the life out of the film?

Director Travis Z, unfortunately, seems to have learned the sucking the life out part with this Cabin Fever remake, as where I remember the original as being fun and even a little edgy (the leg shaving scene, for example) there was very little that even felt entertaining in the remake. The characters were flat, the dialogue stiff, their chemistry non-existent and despite the script having been compressed it still managed to drag on for 6 minutes longer than the original and felt like much longer.

Admittedly, the visuals are lovely, with the shots of the lake and the forest particularly stunning thanks to Gavin Kelly’s cinematography, and Kevin Riepl’s quasi industrial soundtrack deserves to be heard away from the film itself. There’s ever a nice homage to The Shining at the start as the camera follows a forest road and the theme from that movie can be heard softly playing, but these points aside, the rest is pointless and redundant.

If you really want to see a good backwoods movie pick up the original Cabin Fever, or better yet, Wrong Turn or The Hills Have Eyes remake, which demonstrates how to successfully reboot an already half decent film, but avoid this soulless Cabin Fever flick like a flesh-eating virus.

Cabin Fever is in cinemas on Friday 13th May 2016.

2 stars


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