Film

They Remade ‘Cabin Fever,’ for Some Reason

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Remaking Cabin Fever, Eli Roth’s uneven 2002 douchebags-with-a-flesh-eating-virus zombie film, isn’t necessarily a bad idea. Reworking Roth and co-writer Randy Pearlstein’s screenplay, neophyte director Travis Zariwny tries to stick it to the kind of oblivious collegiate protagonists that the original mocked for harboring unexamined prejudices. Zariwny’s do-over sadly lacks the juvenile confidence and clear-eyed nastiness of its rabid predecessor.

In the new Cabin Fever, the college kids are presented as simultaneously attractive and repulsive for wanting to drink beer and have sex during a week-long country retreat. Like with most post–Friday the 13th slasher films, this Cabin Fever‘s frantic pre-infection sex scenes fully exploit tattooed flanks and pierced nipples. But Paul (Matthew Daddario), a callow, harmless frat type, still gets punished for ineffectually putting the moves on childhood sweetheart Karen (Gage Golightly), the first of their group to be infected with a mysterious blood-transmitted skin-melting disease.

Zariwny’s conflicted retread is both too harsh and too judgmental. When Karen replies to Paul’s awkward advances with teasing deflections, her actions are neither eye-roll-worthy nor charming: She’s just playfully avoiding a delicate subject. Which leaves viewers to wonder: If these kids aren’t being schematically killed off because they’re selfish assholes, then why are they the subject of horror-movie morality?

The gory scare scenes are similarly disappointing. Zariwny lacks Roth’s love for peeling flesh and tar-colored blood-geysers, making this all feel weirdly pointless.

Cabin Fever

Directed by Travis Zariwny

IFC Midnight

Opens February 12, IFC Center

This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on February 9, 2016

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