Tag: cabin fever

Cabin Fever

Cabin Fever (2016)
★ / ★★★★

It couldn’t even get the gross-out leg shaving scene right.

Nearly a scene-by-scene recreation of Eli Roth’s horror-comedy of the same name, Travis Zariwny’s “Cabin Fever” is pointless, worthless, and a colossal waste of time. It exhibits no understanding of why the original works and, for some, like myself, why it holds up upon repeated viewings. One of the main reasons is the 2002 picture being rough around the edges. Clearly made with a limited budget, Roth, an ambitious writer-director at the time, is able to turn rather cheap-looking sets into a believable setting that is a cabin in the middle of the woods where flesh-eating bacteria has been working its way up the food chain.

Here, however, notice how the environment looks so sanitized, from the well-decorated interiors of the cabin to the freshly mowed lawns of the picture-perfect surrounding area. It does not fit the dark and foreboding mood of the film that just so happens to have comic moments due to the sheer ignorance or stupidity of the characters. Yes, the characters are meant to be one-dimensional and daft, but Randy Pearlstein’s script, for some reason, is not at all willing to skewer them. Instead, it wants us to like the characters without providing good reasons why we should care for them in the first place. The five friends are as boring as tap water (Gage Golightly, Matthew Doddario, Samuel Davis, Nadine Crocker, Dustin Ingram).

Its second failure is the lack of convincing gore. Let us focus on the famous leg-shaving scene, perhaps the most disgusting—and disturbing—moment in the original. Take note of how the scene in this film unfolds. It is often interrupted by an uninteresting action scene that is taking place outside. Instead of focusing on what is unfolding in the bathtub, distraction is thrown on our faces.

Notice how loud it is rather than settling in the quiet. It is only appropriate that we hear the flesh being ripped by the razor. Worse, take a close look at the leg; it looks so fake that it is offensive. Even the blood does not have the correct color or consistency. So, I suppose, the scene is supposed to be disturbing because of how horribly it is conceived and executed.

Forget that it is a remake for a second. Remakes happen. But just because a movie is supposed to be a modernized beat-for-beat duplication does not mean that ambition should be thrown out the window. On the contrary, the work must be so driven to surpass the original that we feel the filmmakers’ passions in our bones. This can be accomplished by presenting more details than what is necessary.

For instance, they could have made the scabs so realistic that it is actually interesting—instead of just stomach-churning—to inspect them with a magnifying glass. They could have used an extremely well-trained dog during the animal attacks instead of using an unconvincing mannequin. They could have taken more time in the editing room and noticed that random loud noises actually take away not only from the action but also from the dialogue that is barely there in the first place.

Clearly, the horror is in the details and “Cabin Fever” missed the memo. Nearly every moment is forced and half-baked, truly a struggle to sit through. Although the performances, too, leave a lot to be desired, strong performances can rarely save a disaster. Around the fifteen-minute mark I wondered, “Who is this for?”

I’m still waiting for an answer.

Cabin Fever: Patient Zero

Cabin Fever: Patient Zero (2014)
★ / ★★★★

What’s supposed to be a fun bachelor’s party for Marcus (Mitch Ryan) turns grim when his brother (Brando Eaton) and childhood friend (Jillian Murray) go snorkeling in the virus-infected shores of a remote island that happens to contain a secret research facility. Inside the facility, a man named Porter (Sean Astin) is being held against his will. He is believed to be immune from a new strain of flesh-eating virus which means his blood can lead to a vaccine and prevent a pandemic.

Based on the screenplay by Jake Wase Wall and directed by Kaare Andrews, “Cabin Fever: Patient Zero” is supposed to be a prequel to the first entry in the series and yet it does not provide much information about the virus itself. Instead, it recycles information that we already know, from how it is spread to the initial symptoms upon exposure. It offers no new ideas and so it is a bore to sit through despite the impressively yucky, gory special effects and makeup.

Its ambition only goes as far as telling two stories that must intersect eventually. Neither of them work. Marcus getting married and his friends being not-so-happy that his spouse is someone rich is so laughably bad, I thought at first that the picture is going to traverse the route of spoofing the series—which would have been interesting because Eli Roth’s original and Ti West’s “Cabin Fever 2: Spring Fever” are already laced with humor. Instead, there is barely any genuine comedic touches in the dialogue—most of the attempts at humor are generalizations about stupid things early twenty-somethings might say. I found it quite insulting, really.

Equally insulting is its portrayal of the scientists (Currie Graham, Lydia Hearst, Solly Duran) who are supposed to be figuring out how to make a vaccine against the disease. We are forced to sit through interminable scenes where the scientists sit around and argue—essentially doing nothing to progress the plot. Never once did I believe that they are intelligent let alone people who really know what they are doing.

The original film is enjoyable to watch because most of the time the events are unfolding either in daylight or a well-lit cabin. Here, the second half—where the majority of its money shots are revealed—takes place at night, inside a poorly-lit building, or underground that we are not given much time to appreciate the rashes, blisters, and raw tissues. These elements need to be front and center, preferably under a magnifying glass. Audiences who love horror movies about disease outbreaks are looking for the details. If we are not given exactly that, then what is the point?

The challenge with all film series is that each installment must offer something fresh or something so memorable that its existence is ultimately justified. “Cabin Fever: Patient Zero” offers no suspense, horror, and thrill. On top of that, it gives us no further understanding of the virus. Instead, it gives us a string of clichés, an egregious script, and eye strain—for having to squint so hard in order to appreciate the gnarly wounds.

Cabin Fever 2: Spring Fever

Cabin Fever 2: Spring Fever (2009)
★ / ★★★★

When water from a lake infected with rapid flesh-eating bacteria was introduced into an unsuspecting high school’s prom, the government locked the students inside and left them to die. There was John (Noah Segan), a future doctor who was in love with Cassie (Alexi Wasser) but whenever the two got close, her boyfriend with serious anger issues (Marc Senter) left John cowering in his shoes. Alex (Rusty Kelley), John’s best friend, had sex in the brain and was willing to get it from just about anybody. What “Cabin Fever 2: Spring Fever,” directed by Ti West, needed was a spark of creativity and a bit of vision. All the high school students portrayed in the movie were one-dimensional. They were like zombies as they walked in the halls and their conversations left no lasting impact. They were at Point X and they wanted to get to Point Y. Their one and only path was Trajectory XY. So when the flesh-eating bacteria began its bloody horror, while we were left horrified and disgusted, mostly the latter, we just didn’t care for the characters. Given that John wanted to be a doctor some day, I expected a lot from him. The writers, Ti West, Randy Pearlstein and Joshua Malkin, should have given John a scientific approach in terms of dealing with the bacteria. The picture could have benefited from several scenes when John was able to take a sample of the bacteria in the blood and looked at its processes under a microscope. Given that chemistry class, naturally equipped with microscopes and slides especially since, from what it seemed, the students were in a private school, was only a couple of doors away, not learning about the disease was a missed opportunity. The majority of the first film took place in a remote cabin by the lake. They couldn’t possibly learn anything about the disease because they didn’t have any equipment. Here was a vastly different setting but it was uninspired. It was more concerned about delivering the blood, the pus, and the sexual escapades of the doomed teenagers. And what about Deputy Winston (Giuseppe Andrews), the idiotic cop who was lucky enough to survive from the first movie? He was left running around but we had no idea what he was up to. He was a cowardly clown and when the film cut to his scenes, the tension that accumulated from the scene prior decreased at an exponential rate. With a stronger writing and if the film had focused only on the prom and the infected students inside, it could have passed as slightly mediocre. But with the extended scenes involving a high school stripper, I was left very confused.