Cabin Fever (2016)

Director: Travis Z (2016)
Starring: Gage Golightly, Matthew Daddario*, Samuel Davis
Find it: IMDB

A girl takes selfies all the time. A gamer guy bemoans the lack of Internet and GTA 5. The Deputy is now a lady but still really wants to party. Such are the most notable additions to Cabin Fever 2016, the remake nobody wanted, expected or needed.

Look, I am all for remaking movies to include less Eli Roth, but Cabin Fever is not a good place to start with the erasing of his Bro legacy. Not only is Cabin Fever Roth's second best movie (next to the masterful Hostel 2, which I really do like that much), but it also contains his only tolerable slash good performance in Pothead in the Woods character Justin (who I think I only like because of Doctor Mambo). It also doesn't help that his Cabin Fever is a fairly timeless horror film - a genuinely witty precursor to Cabin in the Woods that I much prefer to Cabin in the Woods.

The plot is, quite literally, the same as the first one. Pretty young college kids travel to cabin in the woods. Encounter local drifter, sick off his face with a mystery illness. Accidentally murder local drifter. Get sick. Squelch. If you've never seen Roth's Cabin Fever, you're bound to have a lovely time with this slick, sick horror movie. Everyone else however, will be left bored, nonplussed and slightly angry.

Cabin Fever: now with added CGI that looks worse than CGI from 2002.

It's not a shot-for-shot deal, like the infamous Psycho debacle or Funny Games US, but it is close enough as to be pointless to anyone with a half-decent memory and horror education. It's the same movie but with less jokes, more gore and slightly sharper visuals. The odd surprise is thrown in here and there - an effective jump scare where there wasn't before - but largely it's just longer, gooier versions of the same old splatter sequences. Where it's at its best is during the second half, when the action takes over and the pace ratchets up, at least being quick and easy to watch in spite of the all-encompassing deja vu. Dare I say it, I did actually enjoy this version of the bathtub scene a little bit more than the first time around.

Those sparse flashes of brilliance, however, do not hide the fact that Cabin Fever 2016 is perhaps the laziest remake ever (re)made.

*Related, but he's certainly no fucking Alexandra

Goodnight Mommy

Director: Veronika Franz, Severin Fiala (2015)
Starring: Lukas and Elias Shwartz, Susanne Wuest
Find it: IMDB

Speaking as a self-confessed and unapologetic mummy's boy, there is no idea more terrifying in life than the love between a son and his mother going un-reciprocated. It's this primal (yeah, alright soppy) fear that informs Goodnight Mommy, an Austrian horror film about a violent battle of wits between a mother and her sons, both parties doing their damnest to hurt the other most viciously.

Face all bound up in bandages, Mommy (Wuest) returns from a major cosmetic procedure - literally - a changed woman. Now cold and cruel to her twin sons (the brothers Schwartz) - even refusing to acknowledge little Lukas - Mommy's sudden change in demeanor leads the boys to question whether this woman is even their mother at all.

It's a question which drives Goodnight Mommy, and one that writer/directors Franz and Fiala are in no hurry to answer. Indeed, Mommy spends most of the film looking like an archetypal slasher movie villain and acting like an abusive asshole, (allegedly) murdering cats and repeatedly slapping her one kid about the face while being downright negligent towards the other. And yet the kids aren't exactly alright either; a pair of weirdos who collect giant bugs, pickle dead cats for some reason, and dress almost exclusively in vest tops and three quarter length shorts. To say nothing of their behaviour in the second half, which verges on being the best Let's Go Play at the Adams' adaptation never made.

One's sympathies dance all over the place in a chilly, elusive narrative which refuses to stay still or take the easy route. Like the thematically similar The Babadook and The Witch, it positions itself as one thing but turns out to be another, game-changing twist and all. A twist I guessed ten minutes in, granted (as will anyone remotely versed in horror cinema), but isn't so much hiding in plain sight but rather brazenly swanning about all over the place. Thankfully, that revelation (however soon you work it out) serves only to enrich the story, making the cruelties of the second half feel even more upsetting.

And such upset it is. Goodnight Mommy is not a particularly violent and gory film, but its brutalities hit home hard, making for genuinely, profoundly difficult viewing. A film that will test viewer patiences on many levels, it's a creepy, unsettling and difficult picture with serious mommy issues.