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Review: Cabin Fever (2016) – “Makes Eli Roth look like Stanley Kubrick”

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Directed by “Travis Z.”, Cabin Fever is a do-over of Eli Roth’s fourteen-year-old original film of the same name. The new version stars Gage Golightly (The Troop), Matthew Daddario (Delivery Man), Samuel Davis (Machete Kills), Nadine Crocker (Deadgirl) and Dustin Ingram (Paranormal Activity 3).

Cabin Fever is shot from the same script as the original, so the plot is exactly the same: five teens head off to an isolated cabin in the woods to party. Two are a hot and heavy couple, one is a weirdo gamer loner – a variation on the original’s jock bone head – and the other two have been friends for years, with boy secretly totally in love with girl.

Their water supply has been compromised and one by one the gang begin to get infected by a flesh eating virus. As they get sicker, the kids get more selfish and paranoid, turning on each other and letting their fear drive them to the murder of a sick local. An odd deputy (Louise Linton – Lions for Lambs) promises aid that never comes and our heroes are left to literally rot.

The make-up effects used to portray this rotting flesh are poor. Where the original’s physical make-up effects were hideous and pulsating, here they are simple, static and clearly stuck on. The deaths these infections inflict are horribly and worryingly misjudged, with males dying quickly off screen while females kick the bucket in protracted sexualised detail.

The actors try valiantly but seem to have received little direction and thus miss any subtleties or humour in the script, playing everything painfully flat and straight. The gender bending of the wonderful Deputy Winston (Giussepe Andrews in the 2002 film) is a casting high note though – with Linton managing to be sexy, scary, unpredictable and weird all at glorious once.

“Z.” changes up Roth’s environs a bit, making the “cabin” a lakeside mansion and the surrounding area leafier and prettier, but he has zero handle on the material – vacuuming away the original’s humour, horror and strangeness. A lack of reaction shots and close-ups also makes the film feel lazy and unfinished.

Louise Linton is the only highlight here, with every other aspect of the film being a downgrade from the original. Cabin Fever shows the difference a director can make to a film: both versions have been made from identical source material, but Travis Z. makes Eli Roth look like Stanley Kubrick.

1-out-of-5

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