Written by: Jake Wade Wall
Directed by: Kaare Andrews
The original Cabin Fever, which also happened to be Eli Roth’s directorial debut, was an entertaining and gory 80’s-style horror film where I got to see Rider Strong (of Boy Meets World fame) tormented by a flesh eating virus. I expected the sequel, Cabin Fever 2: Spring Fever, to suck, especially considering the fact that Roth had nothing to do with it. Surprisingly this sequel, while not as good as the original, was still entertaining in it’s own right despite the fact that director Ti West disowned the film, citing massive studio interference and re-editing. Both films featured dark humor that helped separate the movies from other more serious toned horror films, which resulted in them being a great deal of fun despite the gruesome situations the characters found themselves in.
So when I heard that there was going to be two prequel films to the original Cabin Fever that were to explain the origins of the flesh eating virus, I had one question… why? Did anybody that had watched the first two films really care about how the virus started? Let me guess, it has to do with tainted water… wait, maybe I’m writing this movie off too soon, like I did with Spring Fever. Nope, I was completely right with Cabin Fever: Patient Zero, because it ended up being an even bigger pointless entry to a franchise then Hostel 3 was. The previous two directors, Eli Roth and Ti West, are now established names in the horror genre, and after seeing this film I can understand why, this movie just isn’t very good and is inferior to both of their films. Maybe the upcoming Cabin Fever: Outbreak will rectify some of this films shortcomings, something that I seriously doubt.
The films plot follows a guy who is getting married, but before he does his friends (which includes his best friend, brother and his brothers girlfriend) decide to take him on a cruise ship for his bachelors party. They land on an island and decide to have some drinks and enjoy the water. But little do they know that on the island is a scientific research facility, in which a man played by Sean Astin (the only known actor in the film), is being tested on because he is the only survivor of a flesh eating virus. And of course, the friends start showing symptoms of the virus. Very typical set-up.
Practical Gore Effects – There is a terrible trend that is happening to horror movies and that is the use of CGI when it comes to effects that should be done practically. At least Cabin Fever: Patient Zero has the good sense to use practical effects, which goes a long way into providing satisfying moments of gore and violence. There was especially one great scene, in which two infected girls have a cat fight against each other where they are tearing each other’s flesh apart.
Moves At A Quick Pace – I have always said that an hour and a half is the perfect length for most horror films. This newest installment to the Cabin Fever franchise sticks to this formula, and the movie constantly moves at a quick pace, which keeps the film from being boring. While this film isn’t anywhere near perfect, I can think of a lot worse movies to waste an hour and a half on. If you like the previous films and you have nothing better to do, this is quick mindless entertainment.
Lame Throwbacks Too The Original – I am usually all for throwbacks to the original film, especially when it comes to sequels or remakes, but there was a stupid scene in which a guy goes down on a girl and gets covered in blood. This scene was done better in the original, when Rider Strong discovered something similar when fingering a girl. Also there was a girl whose flesh rotted in almost the same exact way as another girl did in Cabin Fever. Sometimes unoriginal and non-clever throwbacks to earlier films just makes me wish that I was watching them instead.
Uninteresting Characters – One reason why I enjoyed the original film was because of the characters. Sure, most of those characters were archetypes but there is a reason why archetypes are used in movies, because we can relate those characters to people we know in real life. When you buy the fact that these characters seem like friends, it becomes even more terrifying when they start to turn on each other. None of the characters in this film were interesting and I didn’t care who lived or died. Sean Astin, whose son was killed by the virus and who is being forcibly imprisoned, could have been a much more interesting character, but he is underused and not given anything interesting to say.
No Dark Humor, To Serious – A big reason why I loved the original Cabin Fever, which ironically was the main complaint among its critics, was the movies dark humor. I thought the sequel even had the same sense of morbid comedy, which I thought set this franchise apart from other more serious horror movies. Unfortunately, this film almost completely does away with the humor, creating a movie which is not very fun because it takes itself too seriously. There are chances where this film could have done something interesting, like when a giant dildo is used as a weapon, but it somehow manages to not be humorous in the context of this film.
If you have never seen a Cabin Fever film, Cabin Fever: Patient Zero is not the film to start with despite the fact that it is a prequel. The first two films in the series were made by two proven horror genre directors, Eli Roth and Ti West respectively, while this film is directed by a new-comer, Kaare Andrews, who is known primarily as a comic book writer. Maybe he will become a worthwhile director in the future, but this film does the bare minimum for me.
That’s not to say that Cabin Fever: Patient Zero is a complete waste of time, it is just probably something to throw on if you’re bored and it’s a movie that’s available on Netflix. The practical effects are good and there isn’t much time wasted, but maybe next time instead of cashing in on an established franchise perhaps come out with something original instead. And what happened to horror movies being fun and entertaining, instead of serious and dark?