I originally intended this to be a double feature blog, but since I’m a completist with OCD, ADHD, and anal-retentive tendencies, I picked up the pointless remake of Cabin Fever for my collection, so I’ll toss in some quick thoughts about that one because it fits the theme.
LAKE FEAR (2014)
“Cabin in the woods” film Lake Fear seems to get a lot of hate because it’s misunderstood, which isn’t all that surprising. It had me confounded until a major shift in tone.
The movie at first seems to be a rip off of two iconic franchises….
- Girl gets violently attacked by nature in the forest.
- Tape recorder in cabin plays ominous messages.
- Friends become possessed and attack each other.
- Girls do a macabre ballet dance.
- Girls give knife blades long lick jobs.
- Possessed girls crawl around on the floor and their fingernails snap off.
- Girls walk around with hair down over their faces.
- A TV is always on, casting an eerie green glow.
- A creepy video shows a girl climbing out of water onto a dock.
- A hole spiraling downward flickers intermittently across the screen.
It’s easy to assume there are no original ideas here, but along with all that familiarity, there is plenty of other trippy, freaky shit going on. Not much of it makes sense, and none of it really comes together, but it does all come across as serious horror and not a spoof. Despite some major sound issues that weaken scare moments desperate for auditory enhancement, this one is effectively spooky with great visual horror atmosphere.
Out of nowhere, a cute big boy comes on the scene – when the girls ask him why the hell he is there, his reply was drowned out, so I just went with it. Glad I did, because he brings an unexpected dry sense of humor to the remainder of the film. Not only that, but he becomes the comic hero! Finally, someone we can connect with. As the burly actor, one Joshua Winch, delivers one-liners and does gory battle with baddies, the horror comedy makes it seem the film may have been intentionally satirizing those other films all along, and just forgot to let viewers in on the joke.
Then suddenly, just as things are getting fun, the film comes to a skidding cliffhanger the likes of which we haven’t seen since Evil Dead 2. All I know is, if Winch is coming back for more Lake Fear, I’m so in. And I also need to check out another film he’s in called Sex Machine. Oh yeah.
DARK FOREST (2015)
I was fully prepared to sit through a disastrous 75-minute, amateurish, failed attempt at a retro 80s slasher with Dark Forest, but damn did this little indie catch me by surprise.
From the atmosphere to the kick ass, 80s-inspired synth score and soundtrack, this is one totally watchable and enjoyable throwback slasher. It’s all about the body count, and the kills are a blast.
There’s actually no masked killer, for after meeting our cast of kids traveling to the woods for some camping, it’s not long before we learn who the killer is. The actor is perfect in the role.
In fact, the whole charismatic cast does a good and convincing job. In this day of asshole groups of kids in horror movies, it’s good to be reminded that there used to be likeable kids you actually rooted for—and who delivered some laughs along the way.
The short running time allows the film to get to the point. There are some campfire stories and a brief swimming montage, but things movie along at a brisk pace, with the kills smartly spread throughout.
There’s even killer POV, sets drenched in red light, suspense, and ideal ominous musical cues – a scene of a couple parked in a car in particular totally nails classic 80s style. And I’m also a sucker for the cheesy good hand-to-hand battle between the killer and one of the girls near the end.
Dark Forest may not appeal to a generation growing up on found footage films, but the VHS generation should be pretty damn entertained. Now if only I could hunt down the soundtrack, because I really want to include a couple of the new wave sounding songs in one of my Future Flashbacks sets.
CABIN FEVER (2016)
You’ve heard the news by now—this “reboot” is pretty much the same exact movie as the 2002 original. Here are some of the slight differences I noticed.
- The film simply lacks that dark sense of humor Eli Roth brought to the original version.
- There’s no old man character at the convenience store using the “n” word.
- The weird boy wears a bunny mask drawn on a paper plate, doesn’t deliver any martial arts wackiness.
- The first sex scene doesn’t include the finger in the guy’s butt moment.
- Female deputy comes on the scene, gets all lesbian over one of the girls.
- During the fingering scene, there’s no “you’re so wet” comment.
- The shaving sequence is uber gory—one of the few highlights of the film that improves on the original. I still don’t understand why anyone would shave their legs in the middle of a peeling skin epidemic.
- Girl in the shed begs guy to kill her, but instead of shooting her with his gun, he starts to chop away at her with a shovel then burns her alive.
- The entire final act is a bit faster paced, but also a chaotic mess.
- Modern technology is pointlessly forced into the plot right up to the bitter end (like, even after the credits start rolling).
Back in 2002, Cabin Fever became an immediate favorite of mine because it wasn’t the usual “kids go to cabin in the woods” plot. It was fun, it was gory, it made me squirm, it “fed” on paranoia about flesh-eating diseases, and it made a disturbing statement about how we treat those with diseases.
I felt none of that with this flat remake, which seems to just go through the motions and fails to even live up to the standards of today’s horror films. Or maybe it’s just me, jaded and with a tainted perspective because I’m so familiar with the nearly identical source material?