Saturday, June 18, 2016

CABIN FEVER (2016) (Blu-ray Review)


Label: Scream Factory I IFC Midnight
Release Date: July 5th 2016 
Region Code: A
Rating: Unrated

Duration: 99 Minutes
Audio: English DTS-HD MA 5.1 with Optional English Subtitles
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (2.40:1) 
Director: Travis Z
Cast: Dustin Ingram, Gage Golightly, Matthew Daddario, Nadine Crocker, Samuel Davis

Synopsis: Executive producer Eli Roth presents this reboot of his instant-classic gorefest, which features all-new characters and all-new kills. The story is familiar: Fresh out of college, a group of five friends retreat to a remote cabin in the woods for one last week of partying – only to become snacks for a gruesome, flesh-eating virus. This fresh spin on a horror-comedy milestone stars Gage Golightly (Exeter, Teen Wolf), Nadine Crocker (Deadgirl), Samuel Davis (Machete Kills, Sin City: A Dame to Kill For) and Dustin Ingram (Paranormal Activity 3).

In 2002 Eli Roth brought us the original Cabin Fever (2002), a lo-fi gory delight full of dark humor, a flesh-eating virus, and enough stupidity that it brought a smile to my face in the cinema. It was a refreshingly old school and stupid slice of splatter-horror that had been long missing from the cinemas, and sort of ushered in a new era of cinema-gore in the early 2000s. The movie spawned a pair of sequels by way of the goofy and gross Cabin Fever 2: Spring Break (2009) and Cabin Fever: Patient Zero (2014). The the series never picked up traction the way of say the Wrong Turn movies as a b-tier franchise but I must say I enjoyed both. Spring Fever was directed by Ti West who disowned the movie after reshoots and producer tinkering, but I still loved it for how innapprorpiate and gross it was, a gory mess of a movie. Patient Zero was not spectacular but also a good gory watch. I think what Roth has in mind with this reboot is to start a new franchise with a bit more cohesion than what came before it. I might be wrong about that but what other reason could there be for rebooting a movie just fourteen years old... besides money.

The movie uses the same script as the original Cabin Fever, featuring five 20-somethings who head out to a cabin in the woods to celebrate graduation. There they make fun of the locals, get stoned, drink some beers, have sex and fall victim to a nasty flesh-eating virus that causes them to rot from the inside and turn to on one another, being young and selfish the virus causes each of their worst qualities to emerge as they throw each other under the bus in hopes of surviving longer than the other. 

Using the same script we get a lot of familiar dialogue coming from actors who are decent but pale in comparison to the original cast in my opinion, they're not awful, not all of them anyway... but the comedy and dark humor is toned down which turns this formerly splatteriffic-comedy to a mostly humorlous action horror movie of a sort, and I think I missed the humor more than anything else. 

They do bring the gore though, there's a decent amount of skin-crawling grossness to go around, we have the familiar blood-fingering, the tragic leg shaving scene, the infected spewing a geyser of blood from their mouths, some good stuff. Another familiar scenario involves a dog tearing apart an unfortunate rotter, that happens off camera and we are only privy to the screams and the aftermath, if you're gonna remake something stupid and gross I say go all the way with it, amp it up and push the boundaries, and they just didn't do it. That being said, they do give us some great shots of the infected dogs who are starting to rot away and are acting rabid, but the when they tear apart someone off screen that bothered me. The movie is attractively shot in the scope aspect ration with very nice cinematography, there's even a nice homage to Kubrick's The Shining at the top of the film, complete with a borrowed music cue.  

As the reboot happens fourteen years after the original they do cram a bit too much of the 'what no cell reception', 'I can't play games?' and 'are you kidding me, no wi-fi' which did get annoying. As I said before the characters sort of just regurgitate familiar dialogie but the comedy is toned way way down, and that didn't work for me. The most notable change is that they made Deputy Winston who was portrayed by Giuseppe Andrews in the first movie into a woman, now played by  Louise Linton, who plays it weird but nowhere near as memorable as Giuseppe Andrews. What they did right was fill out the movie with smokin' hot chics, we have Gage Golightly of Teen Wolf and Nadine Crocker - the latter of whom drops her clothes in not one but two scenes, and she's very easy on the eyes.  

The local rednecks are not as fun this time around, the strange kid Dennis doesn't yell "pancakes" either, but we do get a pancake reference which might explain why the kid in the original film kept yelling it. Also missed is the crazy king-fu action Dennis throws out in the original movie, this time he just sort of seems like a boring extras from the movie Gummo. 

Special Features
- The Making Of Cabin Fever Featurette
- Theatrical Trailer

I don't hate this movie, taken on its own merits it has a lot to offer, damn decent production value and cinematography, the cast is decent, the script is now worse than the original with a few modern updates and the gore is nothing to sneeze at, Now as a reboot it doesn't offer anything new, so I have to ask why even make it, why not pump some of that cash into an original idea? As with any business it comes down to money and marketing and what horror fans are willing to spend some hard-earned dough on, and guess what, you cannot blame them for it. Maybe horror fans over the age of thirty might be put off by a Cabin Fever remake, but there are loads of millennials out there who didn't catch the original movie. These teen brats cannot be bothered to seek it out on their own, a movie from 2002 might as well be a black and might TV show from a bygone era to them, not all of them, but a lot. Maybe this new one will lure them in, and that's alright by me, you don't have to love the reboot, but if it turns a few new teens into horror fans that's good for everyone. Cabin Fever '16 is not a bad movie, it's not a great reboot, but taken on its own it offers some good gore and cheap frights that go down easy with a few beers and doesn't require a lot of thought, just like the first one.