I don’t understand why the 2016 remake of Eli Roth’s “Cabin Fever” (2002) is so hated by critics and audiences. It has a 0% rating over at Rotten Tomatoes, and reviews of the movie are withering. I personally thought it was a very well made horror film; I’d rate it at least an 8 out of 10.
Sure, I understand the criticisms. This is definitely an unneeded remake. And the new cast here feels bland compared to the doomed vacationers in Roth’s campier, weirder outing 14 years prior. (Although this isn’t a shot-for-shot remake, it still proceeds mostly from his original script.)
But the new “Cabin Fever” is well filmed, and it’s damned horrifying. Director Travis Z significantly ups the gore, violence and frightening imagery — it’s not for the squeamish. It passes the litmus test for decent horror movies, because it scared me.
Maybe I’m just partial to Roth’s basic story concept — a terrifying new illness that jumps from person to person in an isolated location from which it’s difficult to escape, turning them against one another. It’s precisely the same plot driver as the one for John Carpenter’s “The Thing” (1982), which is among the greatest sci-fi/horror films of all time. And I suppose Roth’s story could be taken as modern retelling of Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Masque of the Red Death,” with some of the director’s sadism and unique black humor injected into it via his screwball, eccentric characters. Remake or not, this is still a creative change of pace from a genre consistently overcrowded with slashers and shrieking ghosts.