Cabin Fever (2016)

Cabin Fever

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A group of five friends head off to a scenic lakeside cabin, hoping to have a nice, relaxing week. Things start off rocky when they run into some crazy locals, but once they get to the cabin everything seems great. The cabin is huge, the location is beautiful, and there’s no one around for miles, so they can party without interruption. Their initial complaints of a lack of any cell reception or a phone now only seem like a minor inconvenience. But when a rambling, infected man stumbles upon their vacation spot one night, begging for help, their idyllic trip takes a sudden turn as they quickly realize that they’ve become trapped in the wilderness and are now forced to contend with a contagious, flesh-eating disease.

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I was very confused when I read that there was a Cabin Fever remake, and I was even more confused when I realized that it had come out over six years ago, and I had never even heard of its existence up until now. As a horror movie junkie I’m usually more on top of these things. But then I read that it was initially released as one of those VOD things and thought, “Ah, that explains it.” I’ve never much cared for or paid attention to stuff like that. Frankly, I’ve never found anything offered on such services all that impressive. Seems like I’m not the only one though, because based on some of the review scores it doesn’t look like this movie impressed anyone else, either. I was still determined to give it a chance, but it looks like my penchant for optimism was, sadly, misplaced.

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Just like their hopes for a quiet week.

Before you watch the 2016 remake of Cabin Fever you need to ask yourself one very important question, namely: Have I already seen the original that came out in 2002? If the answer is “yes” then — Good News! — you don’t have to spend 2 hours of your life watching this version. Why? Because it’s the exact same film. And no, I don’t just mean it just follows the same story with the same characters. I mean they actually used the exact same script to film this remake that they used back in 2002. To their credit, the filmmakers did go to the trouble of updating several elements of the script (slightly), so things like the setting, the cabin and the gun get an upgrade, the technology and the cars are new, and there are references to things like the internet and Minecraft. But other than that, this is the EXACT SAME SCRIPT. And I mean, like, word-for-word the same. There are entire exchanges that do not deviate from the original one iota. So the characters are the same, the order they die in remains the same, and 95% of the dialogue has not changed at all. The movie even runs about the same time, so I suspect that you could play them side-by-side and they’d remain synced up, probably right up until the last few minutes. That’s how little this film deviates from the source material.

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Yep, it even starts exactly the same with a grisly dead dog to ruin your day.

That’s not to say that the film is a 1-to-1 copy and doesn’t make any changes from the original film. It’s just that the bulk of the changes pretty much just amount to little more than hollow window dressing. Small things like the cabin and the lake location are much nicer, the deputy getting gender-swapped, and the gun used being switched from a rifle to a semi-auto are prevalent throughout, but have no effect on the story. But the film also has some small visual and tonal changes. Almost all of the scenes from the original look to have been faithfully recreated, only they’ve now been shot from the opposite angle. And gone are all elements of Eli Roth’s quirky, dark humor that helped give the original some of its character. Instead the film is played 100% seriously, which not only does nothing to make the film stand out, but also only helps to bring the whole vibe of the production down even further. Most of the deaths are altered from the original to be more gruesome and bloody (or even just downright heartless), but again, since they all still happen in the same order it’s not going to do much to alter your enjoyment of the overall film.

Though the biggest change the film made involves the ending, which is not only more bloody, but also more cathartic than the original, thanks to the changed fate of the crazy, local hicks. But if you’ve already seen the 2002 version, by the time you get to that point it’ll likely hardly feel worth the wait.

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One minor quibble I have with the movie involves the actors. And it’s not so much whether I think they were necessarily better or worse than the actors in the original (I could probably complain about both groups equally), but more so because half the time it doesn’t feel like they belong in this film. Not only do you spend most of the movie wondering why these characters, who don’t seem to really get along even before everything goes to hell, are friends in the first place, but oftentimes you wonder if any of their actors even realize they’re in the same movie. Like, none of them realize they’re in a horror film and are acting way off, almost like they either don’t know what’s going on, they don’t want to be there, or they were all forced to take these roles against their will. And yeah, some of that could boil down to the actors themselves, but since they’re all guilty of it at one point or another, I have a sneaking suspicion that part of the blame for that disconnect lies in the hands of the director.

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I honestly don’t know what to make of this new version of Cabin Fever. It’s not that it’s bad, and it’s not that it’s good, it’s just…. Horribly redundant. Like, the whole production just seems like it was nothing more than a massive waste of time. They literally just remade the same exact movie from 2002 with a different coat of paint. And they didn’t even bother to make it a shiny, new coat, either. They just covered it in a different color out of a rusty spray can. They changed nothing. They improved nothing. Like, who was this movie supposed to appeal to? Not the fans of the original, they’ve already seen this exact same movie already. Why would they want to watch the same thing, just shot at different angles? And I guarantee they weren’t impressed by the decision to suck all the humor out of the script without actually rewriting the script. That just makes the dialogue feel clunky and awkward, which is likely something that didn’t appeal to new viewers. So I ask, what was the point? Did they really think making the movie more serious and adding some more blood would somehow change the whole film? Were they trying to cash in on the good vibes of the Evil Dead remake from 2013 without wanting to put in any of the work? I don’t know, and I’ll probably never know, and the purpose of this movie’s existence will likely forever remain a mystery to me.

If you’ve already seen Cabin Fever from 2002, then you can skip this. But if you haven’t seen that, and you absolutely CANNOT be bothered to watch a movie that isn’t fully updated to the modern age, then I guess you can give this remake a shot.

If you must.

Cabin Fever (2016) is available on a variety of streaming services.

Cabin Fever (2016) is also available on Bluray.

Helpful Links:

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Michi

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