It’s no secret what my feelings are about 2003’s “Cabin Fever.” I hate it. I despise it. If I could go back in time, I’d prevent myself from spending money on it in theaters and instead go see the mediocre “Underworld.” It’s one of the most painful movie going experiences I’ve ever endured, and I welcomed a remake. Surely, it’s disgraceful that in this day and age “Cabin Fever” has had two sequels, and a remake, while films like “Behind the Mask” are scrounging for money for a follow-up. But Hollywood is Hollywood, and people love their trash. Thankfully, 2016’s “Cabin Fever” is a superior remake, even if it is still abysmal nonsense.
The premise and set up are essentially the same as the original. Five college students are going away to a cabin in the woods for drugs, drinking, and heavy sex. While on the way there, they accidentally become victims of a water born flesh eating virus that begins mangling the individual students one by one in gory horrific methods. The source of said virus is mysterious, as locals begin inexplicably turning up at the cabin drenched in blood and losing their flesh. Meanwhile, the group is being terrorized by rotting wild dogs, all of whom are flesh hungry because that’s how stuff works. It’s the same motions as usual, except IFC Midnight and director Travis Z excise a lot of the trash and filler from the original film. There are no more karate fighting pancake kids, no more racial and homophobic humor, no more segues in to a stoned camper telling a violent story about a bowling alley, and not much of an open door for a sequel.
Even though we know there will eventually be one. There’s an attempted gag in the mid-credits involving an “I Pad” and a slideshow of vacation photos, but it’s another in a long line of poorly delivered dark comedy. Director Travis Z brings us through a lot of the motions from the original despite cutting out a lot of the junk from the original movie, exploring the characters, examining undercurrents of romance, and even featuring some hardcore sex. Standing in for Jordan Ladd is the insanely hot Gage GoLightly, one of the few stand-out performances in the bunch who really sells her grue and vicious deteriorating state well. I even enjoyed Louise Linton as the new inept deputy who wants to do nothing but party, even when faced with a victim covered in blood and guts. Linton’s performance is slickly tongue and cheek, and she aces the obnoxious character originated by Giuseppe Andrews.
It’s true, Travis Z’s “Cabin Fever” is a much more coherent and well made film than Eli Roth’s original, it’s marred by the utterly disjointed narrative that fails to hold together. Travis Z’s poor attempts at dark humor, unnecessary sub-plots and introductions of characters that go nowhere, are valiant, but “Cabin Fever” is still an abysmal genre entry with seeds of potential for a good movie buried deep within that’s never realized.