CABIN FEVER: PATIENT ZERO
** (out of 5)
June 27, 2014
Sean Astin as PORTER
Currie Graham as DR. EDWARDS
Ryan Donowho as DOBBS
Brando Eaton as JOSH
Jillian Murray as PENNY
Mitch Ryan as MARCUS
Solly Duran as CAMILIA
Lydia Hearst as BRIDGETT
Studio: Image Entertainment
Directed by: Kaare Andrews
BY KEVIN CARR
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The original “Cabin Fever” was a grisly breath of fresh air when it was released back in 2003. Long before Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard sent up cabin in the woods stories with “Cabin in the Woods,” “Cabin Fever” played off the trope while being a kick-ass horror film. (And Eli Roth has yet to reach this high point of his career again, sadly.)
Back then was a unique time for horror, which was going through a revitalization. Before Roth changed things yet again with torture porn, “Cabin Fever” helped galvanize Lionsgate as the leader in edgy horror, and it brought gore and essential teen slasher movies back to the mainstream. R-rated flicks were in again, and blood flowed red and thick.
The sequel wasn’t very good, but it’s an interesting watch, if for no other reason to see what happened when a would-be brilliant horror director is just a gun-for-hire in a low-rent sequel. Ti West did the best he could with the movie, but “Cabin Fever 2: Spring Fever” never quite rose above its original intention.
In this same sense, “Cabin Fever: Patient Zero” follows that trajectory. The uniqueness of the first movie is gone, and the rustic cabin-in-the-woods setting has been swapped out for a tropical location, which has been a popular place to set grisly horror movies lately. At first blanche, this wasn’t a great sign for me because I find the cabin to be a much better setting than the beach. Consider it part of my upbringing with “The Evil Dead” and even “Night of the Living Dead” providing the background of this genre for me.
Still, there’s some neat things in “Cabin Fever: Patient Zero.” The story bounces between two points of view. The cliche characters are a group of five twentysomethings on holiday in a tropical country. They head out to a deserted island to swim and enjoy the sun. However, they soon find themselves infected by a fast-acting flesh-eating bacteria. They dig deeper into the island to discover a medical lab (the B-story), where scientists are trying to find a cure for this outbreak.
The scenes with the younger adults have all the elements of an unrated sequel. There’s some nice female nudity courtesy of Jillian Murray, and there’s also plenty of blood and gore (mostly from Murray as well, making her one of the more daring actors in the film).
However, the real interesting parts of the story happen with the scientists in the lab. Sure, it’s a weird casting of supermodels playing scientists in high heels, but once you get past that, you can accept bigger actors like Sean Astin as Patient Zero and Currie Graham and the most-likely mad scientist in charge. Their story isn’t terribly well written, but it raises the movie out of simple hot-twentysomethings-in-trouble boredom.
The best thing I can say about “Cabin Fever: Patient Zero” is that it works for people who love blood and gore. Some of the scenes aren’t executed as well as they could be, but there’s plenty of moments that will make your skin crawl. Unfortunately, the characters aren’t very well developed, and once the blood washes away, you’ll forget about them soon enough.