I don’t like to write negative reviews, so I’ll keep this short and sweet. I realize that Eli Roth is a divisive topic, and that he gets that hipster blood a-boiling, but when I heard they were remaking his film Cabin Fever, I felt a little boil in the blood myself. And this is me we’re talking about here. I’m usually the one defending these remakes from attacks and charges of sexually assaulted childhoods. But goddamn it, this is one of the most unnecessary things I’ve ever seen. Even if you weren’t a fan of the original, you can’t think that a remake of such a recent film is a good idea, especially one that is widely considered to be awesome, and already in the English language. But that’s exactly what they did. I had my suspicions when more information started to trickle in, that the entire reason they were doing this was to make the same story a little more millennial/hipster friendly. In case you’ve forgotten, there were a couple of jokes in Roth’s film that rubbed the PC crowd the wrong way. And I’m afraid that I was correct. Other than the omission of these “offensive” jokes, the 2016 version of Cabin Fever is beat-for-beat the same movie.
Imagine the 1998 Psycho remake, if the shower scene were removed for fear of offending producers and distributors of shower curtains. That’s basically what you get with this update. Sure, it’s still gross and gory, but it still feels sanitized for a more sensitive audience. And, hey, it’s not that I don’t understand. If I were to see someone on the streets accosting a gay man simply for being gay, I would intervene in any way that I could. But you can’t look me in the eye, keep a straight face, and tell me that James DeBello’s character wouldn’t call a squirrel gay, and then make the “I don’t care if it’s gay or straight, I’ll shoot ’em anyway” joke in real life. Maybe it’s where I grew up, but that’s how people like that talk. Yes, we have collectively decided as a society that referring to something as “gay” to signify something negative is a bad thing. I don’t do it, and you shouldn’t do it, but this is fiction, people. These are stories written, and characters created to entertain us. Are you saying that we can’t even write offensive things for asshole characters to say in our fiction now? This is where I find myself and the PC crowd separating. It’s words, the English language. It’s beautiful, even when it’s ugly. There are people in this world who say and do some atrocious shit, and it is an artists job to capture these things, and merge it into their writing, directing, painting, whatever, to tell a genuine story that strikes a chord with a potential consumer. When we start limiting the tools an artist has to tell these stories, it’s time to give the pastime up altogether. Censorship has no place in entertainment, even if it offends you.
Now that my little mini-rant is out-of-the-way, let me tell you about this movie. Actually, do I even need to? Like I said before, aside from a few joke removals, this version of Cabin Fever is the same, down to the dialog, down to the shot. It’s the same movie you’ve already seen, only not as good. The acting isn’t as good, the production value is just a smidge lower class than its predecessor. If you’re a millennial, and you’ve never seen the original Cabin Fever, this was probably meant for you. But even still, you’re better off just skipping it and tracking down the Blu-ray of Roth’s movie. I known people were crazy about the Last House on the Left remake, but I wasn’t a fan. It felt sanitized as well, but I think in the case of Cabin Fever, it’s even more egregious. At least the Last House remake tried to do something different enough to justify its existence in the first place, while Cabin Fever simply exists to mimic, and to repackage for a new generation. I know that this is the intended purpose of a remake, but as people like Alexandre Aja have shown, with his remake of Wes Craven’s The Hills Have Eyes, a director of a remake can aim to improve, or at least stray somewhat to inject a little uniqueness to the project. That movie, The Hills Have Eyes ’06, in my eyes, is better than Craven’s original. And even though Roth was involved with the production of this remake, at least to the extent that he was granted a Producer credential, it never feels like an adoring fan’s love letter to a film that touched them. At every step it feels like viewer exploitation.
In spite of the utterly useless movie itself, Scream Factory’s Blu-ray release of the film is fine. If you’re a fan, there are zero warnings for me to give you. The video and audio are perfect, it is a new release film after all. The bonus content is sparse, but that has come to be expected with a lot of these new release films, and especially indie flicks which were lucky to find a distributor in the first place. On the disc you get a Making-of featurette, and the theatrical trailer, and that’s it. But, you won’t be left wanting more, because honestly, what more could there be? It’s the same movie with different actors. How interesting could a detailed documentation of its production be? Cabin Fever 2016 will hit store shelves and begin shipping from online retailers on Tuesday, the 5th of July.