Until this movie plopped into my Netflix, I had no idea anyone had done a remake of Cabin Fever, a disgustingly delightful dark comedy from 2002 where a group of college kids runs afoul of a flesh-eating virus while in a cabin in the woods.
I remember loving this movie. Sure, it was a gorefest and not for the faint-hearted, but it was also a movie that embraced the bizarre and the surreal and, beyond even that, I appreciate how the movie served as a morality tale given how, if any of the characters had done the moral thing at any point in the movie, they might have lived. To me, it was perfect.
So why the heck would you remake it? Let’s examine that question…
Why the heck would you remake anything? The answer is simple: You remake it if you have a way to improve it or tell the story from a unique viewpoint. Both of those answers are acceptable and I applaud any remake that does it. The Jungle Book, for example, is a fine remake and improves on the original. Let Me In, The Fly, The Thing, Dawn of the Dead… all examples of why remakes should be a thing! On the whole, I’m not automatically opposed to the remake, but I am wary… how can this be improved?
How can Cabin Fever be improved?
Apparently, according to the remake, it can only be improved by removing all the humor and doing it as a straight horror movie.
This, my friends, is the wrong answer. It’s as if someone somewhere, a director, a studio executive… someone…. looked at the quirky and unapologetically irreverent Cabin Fever from 2002 and said, “Hey, let’s cut the soul of of this movie and do it all over again!”
I find this troubling for, you see, it was everything that this remake saw of no value that made Cabin Fever such a great movie in the first place. It was so unlike anything else and it didn’t give a darn about conventions. It knew that it was stupid, it knew that it went off on tangents, and it knew that it was alienating people with the way it told this story. It was fully aware that the movie was a joke and it delivered the punchline with barely contained glee.
This remake is like giving a joke to the world’s worst comedian on amateur night and watching them butcher it. It’s completely tone-deaf and takes itself incredibly serious, turning Cabin Fever (2016) into a straight laced body horror movie that isn’t scary, isn’t tense, and isn’t rewarding.
The cast of the older movie played characters that were despicable, but because the movie was self-aware enough to realize it was a joke, we could accept that. This movie also features despicable characters, only you’re supposed to feel bad for them as the paranoia sets in and it just doesn’t work.
Despite a gender-swapped role and the excising of just about every mote of humor in this movie, Cabin Fever ’16 is beat-for-beat a copy of Cabin Fever ’02 which begs the question… why? Why bother pointlessly remaking a movie that isn’t even fifteen years old and seeking out, purposely, to do less with it? Even the wonderful morality tale is absent along with the humor. It’s such a frustrating exercise in futility, the point of which I don’t understand and don’t think I ever will.
Thankfully, though, given this remake’s resounding thud two years ago, a thud so soft that I didn’t even notice it, it looks like, at least, the original will be what most people think of when they hear Cabin Fever and that makes me happy… and hungry for pancakes.