Tuesday, October 4, 2016

31 Days of Halloween: Cabin Fever (2016) Movie Review - by Beth

I really used to like Eli Roth though he's done little to deserve it, and almost seems to actively trying to make me dislike him with crap like Green Inferno. He's made a career off of making less enjoyable versions of the movies he grew up loving. I mean, Hostel was okay back before "torture-porn" became huge. It's still only the kind of movie I can watch once though. One viewing gives you all you're going to get out of it. Repeat watching provides no further insight. Only more gratuitous death.

Despite all of that I actually liked the original Cabin Fever. In a year of movies like 28 Days Later, Resident Evil, and The Ring it was a breath of fresh air. It was unapologetically gruesome, and a return to 80's movie standard of kids going to the woods to die. Especially since this was also the year that they sent Jason Voorhees into space with Jason X. Not that I didn't like that too (and I stand by it to this day - I'll be happy to explain it to you sometime if you need convincing) but after 10 of those things they were getting a little stale no matter where Jason ended up. Sure this was Eli Roth's  first real movie, and you could tell by the problems with pacing in his writing and directing. None of the characters were likable or really even appealing visually, but the blood and guts looked great. 

I also have no problem with the "kids" (who all appear to be in their late 20's to early 30's) being horrible stereotypes, that's what 80's slasher movies were supposed to be. So what the hell did I like about it if I had all these damn problems with it? 

If you haven't seen it, or haven't seen it in a long time, let me briefly remind you what's going on. The stupid kids go to a cabin in the woods (but also at a lake) to get drunk and have sex. Unfortunately for them there's some kind of highly communicable flesh eating disease out there too, and even the lake water everyone is drinking and showering in has been tainted. The real nature of this disease is left unexplained which I also prefer. Two reasons: if you can't make up a believable disease then don't explain it at all, and also because people caught in the middle of nowhere will not receive CDC level information on what's happening to them. If they don't know then why should the audience? It's why I like the zombie virus on The Walking Dead so much. We don't know where it came from or why, and no one has any time to answer those kinds of questions while they're busy trying not to die anyway. 

But let's return to why I liked it. Probably the inevitability of the death and the horror that ensues from knowing you're going to die no matter what you do. It quickly became clear that none of these idiots are going to live. Their pointless struggle to live, and how quickly they devolved from average douche bags to heartless monsters was fun to watch. The "nice" guy trying to fingerbang his crush while she's in bed asleep only to discover that he hasn't found the sweet spot at all, but is instead going to town on a bloody lesion on her thigh is lovely too (let's face it she was asleep and sick so he deserved to catch whatever kind of disease she had). The nice girl getting quarantined in the shed only to be found later with a dog snacking on her face because her asshole companions just left her there to die anyway is also good. I liked the seemingly racist yokels, the weird cop whose entire character made no sense, and especially the ending where the kids are selling lemonade made from the lake water while a water bottling plant truck drives by. I didn't feel like that scene was there to leave it open for a sequel, but that it was more of that deadly inevitability. We all have to drink water so we're all going to die. Even the guy who spends the whole weekend drinking beer, and doesn't catch the disease gets gunned down by the locals who are trying in vain to stop this thing from spreading. It's a very end of Night of the Living Dead scene, but I still enjoyed it (mostly because he was the biggest douche bag of them all and couldn't get away unscathed).

And now here we are 14 years later with a remake of Cabin Fever. Not a reboot. Not a re-imagining. A remake that basically uses the original script almost word for word. I didn't know this at the time I rented it. I was just looking for something for Mr. Tibbs and I to watch one night, and had a free rental at Redbox. I guess I thought that maybe a remake would make up for the terrible sequels I had endured. Cabin Fever 2: Spring Break, and Cabin Fever 3: Patient Zero are both really bad. Unfortunately, so is this remake. 

How can something that's almost identical to the original be so terrible? The cast is even more bland in appearance and unlikable in demeanor. For no reason whatsoever the goofy deputy has been turned in to a big breasted bimbo, and I honestly couldn't tell if she was trying to be sexy or threatening. She failed miserably either way. There is so little humor that it felt like we were having the humor drained from us. We're usually okay with a bad movie since we can just MST3K our way through it, but not this time. When the nice girl is killed with a shotgun to the head after being savaged by the dog it's an act of mercy from the guy who molested her while she was asleep. In this version it's just plain pointless murder. They even took out the good ending with the lemonade stand. The hicks aren't enjoyable, and neither is anything else about this movie. 

Eli Roth produced it, and I don't know how much of a hand he had in it, but I can't believe he could have had much involvement. This movie is so bad that it doesn't even have a Rotten Tomatoes score. It is unscorable. In the days following The Cabin in the Woods other horror movies have had to step up their game to keep that style fresh. An updated version that took to heart what's happened in the horror genre over the last 14 years could have been worth watching. A movie that basically rips itself off is not.


Beth got her start writing for a site called Movie Criticism for the Retarded (which has been reborn as dorkdroppings.com. Check it out sometime), but was pulled out of an early retirement to write for Needless Things. When she isn't writing she plays video games and watches bad horror movies while eagerly awaiting the zombie apocalypse. She may try to save her husband and/or their cats, but luckily hasn't had to make those tough decisions yet. Follow beth0rama on Instagram or on Twitter @NeedlessBeth where she doesn't post often enough to be annoying, but updates way more than Google+

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