Ever since it was announced that the remake of Eli Roth’s 2002 horror movie Cabin Fever would utilize the script from the original film, it has been widely assumed that this new version of the flesh-eating virus saga would be some sort of shot-for-shot (or, at least, line-for-line) reboot. But director Travis Z is keen to point out that his film (which will open in cinemas, on VOD, and via digital platforms, Feb. 12) is not a photocopy of Roth’s terror tale, despite the Hostel auteur being one of the project’s executive producers.
“This is a misconception,” says Z, who, as Travis Zariwny, worked as production designer on a number of notable horror movies, including 2006’s Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon and last year’s Digging Up the Marrow. “This isn’t a shot-for-shot remake. I used the script [but] I was really given a lot of freedom to do what I wanted. I actually pared their screenplay down from 124 pages to 92. I talked to Eli about what he did not get to do when he made the first film and I integrated some of those things. How is it different? It’s not funny. It’s a serious horror movie. I completely embraced it as my own project. I altered the kills. I changed the characters’ tone and their demeanor. I wanted to make them as likable and approachable as possible.”
Z points to the role of Bert, played in the original by James DeBello and in the remake by Dustin Ingram, as an example of how he attempted to make his core characters more appealing. “This sounds really bad, I don’t even know how to say this,” he hesitates. “Bert was a total douche, dude, and I didn’t want Bert to be a douche in my movie.”
Z even changed the sex of one character. In Roth’s original film, the role of party-loving cop Deputy Winston was played, with memorable weirdness, by Giuseppe Andrews. In the remake the part is taken by actress Louise Linton. “There was no way for me to emulate Giuseppe’s performance as Sheriff Winston,” says Z. “So I made it into a girl.”
Of course, the two films do still have a lot in common, including an abundance of blood and viscera as more and more of the film’s characters succumb to the virus. “Dude, it’s gory,” says Z. “No doubt about it. I’d be amazed if somebody said there wasn’t enough gore in this movie.”
You can see the poster for Cabin Fever, below, and an exclusive clip, above.