Fourteen years after the release of Eli Roth’s “Cabin Fever,” a classic tale of college kids going into the woods only to fall victim to a flesh-eating disease, horror movie lovers everywhere have been blessed with a reboot. Though fans aren’t exactly clamoring for this film, that clearly isn’t stopping Roth from helping to produce another gore fest.
The opening hour of the film is far from stimulating, as five teenagers are en route to a cabin in the woods, only to be warned of a gun-wielding old man targeting hikers by at a gas station. Of greater surprise is a child wearing a bunny mask, who chomps on the hunky male lead and draws blood.Though shocking, this did not stop the teens from moving onto the usual teen horror film cliches: drinking beer, getting stoned and having sex. The latter, of which, was the only redeeming factor in this first half of the film.
Their lighthearted partying is interrupted by a man riddled with bullets and a flesh eating bacterium, suddenly showing up at their door. Instead of extending any help, they ward him off with baseball bats, douse him with gasoline and light him on fire. This is later called a small overreaction because “it was all happening so fast.” Thankfully, the classic mix of utter horror and sex helps the film picks up some momentum. They continue to make some bad decisions, including having sex at inopportune times and internal quarreling, before they’re slowly taken down one by one.
Director Travis Zariwny boasts “ingenious new deaths” as what separates the remake of “Cabin Fever” from the original. There are a few frightening moments but no ultimately, no kills really fulfill Zariwny’s bold claim. The most compelling part of the film does come during a fairly gruesome death sequence. A bathtub is filled with blood as a character’s skin sheds off, with screams of agony to boot. The acting is entirely believable and gives the audience a chance to (finally) feel attached to one of the characters.
In an attempt to be a more serious reboot, Zariwny strayed away from the comedic aspects that make gory horror films so appealing; “Cabin Fever” lacks the lighthearted moments that give the audience a break between people being shot in the head and mauled by dogs, ultimately detracting from the film as a whole. “Cabin Fever” is fine by standards of teen horror flicks, though that’s not to say it’s anywhere near worthwhile.
Cabin Fever opens on Feb. 12 at IFC Center.
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