What’s it About?
When a group of friends enjoying a bachelor cruise in the Caribbean stumble upon a research facility on a remote island, a deadly virus is unleashed.
Directed by Kaare Andrews
“Cabin Fever: Patient Zero”
I’ll be honest with you, all, gang. I think I have only seen the first “Cabin Fever,” film from Eli Roth, once. As well as it’s sequel one late night on cable. I am not a card carrying fan of the franchise but I was curious to see what the hub-bub was all about since I’ve been reading and coming across reviews that herald “Cabin Fever: Patient Zero” as a much needed return to basics, adding much needed “new blood” to the series.
Comic book artist and writer Kaare Andrews (The ABC’s of Death) is behind the lens on this entry and right out of the gate, I could tell he is well versed in what makes cliched and schlocky gore flicks work. That may not be a great testament for the movie but if you temper your expectations and keep them practically non-existent, then you may dig this one. Emphasis on may. Andrew’s film is a horror quickie niether grand or completely abyssmal. Just not impressive on any scale, really.
It is a mutt of a film that borrows from those tepid Saturday afternoon Sci Fi (or is it SyFy?) movies where scantily clad men and women get killed, usually near or on an island, ocean or even a beach. As well as borrowing from virus films about poor infected people running around bloody and covered in yuck and gore like the “28” films. This time, though, Andrew provides a bit of a back story that involves an infected patient/father (his son was infected and died) that is immune to the flesh eating virus. His name is Porter, played by Sean Astin, of the Lord of the Rings Trilogy (where the hell has he been since 24?). Porter is discovered and put into quarantine in a clandestine medical facility with a Project Leader named Dr Edwards (Currie Graham of Hitchcock) who has a sinister agenda (don’t they all?). What ensues is an un-dramatic series of exchanges and occurrences involving Edwards, Porter and a bevy of medical staff poking and prodding Porter to try and discover the reason for his immunability.
That all aside, the rest of the story involves a young man named Marcus (Mitch Ryan) in the tropics who is engaged and is tricked into going on a final yacht cruise to a secluded island for his bachelor party. He goes reluctanly with his brother, his brother’s girlfriend and a best friend and business partner. He leaves his fiance behind with her stuffy and rich family for the one day/night. During these scenes, one cannot escape noticing the limitations of the budget and story as the intros feel very hokey and banal. In other words, we’ve all heard this familiar tune before.
The characters are all terribly cliched, flat and uninteresting not to mention all are unlike-able. The set up is like a bad soap operatic version of a SyFy original monster movie or even a grade Z version of the recent “Piranha” movies. There is sex, sex jokes, weird locals, drunk guys, boobs, stupid people saying dumb things and horrid acting. At least the locale is nice to look at but the rote camera-work and editing does not let one appreciate it much.
The movie feels extremely manufactured and there are feeble attempts at tension, drama and personality clashes that are very distracting and unnecessary. Once Marcus, and the rest, reach the island and after his brother and girlfriend go snorkeling, do things pick up a bit. While out in the water they discover body parts and dead fish and rotting corpses. It isn’t long after that Andrews connects both plotlines, narratives then even the characters. Then he tries, none too successfully to kick the gory action and claustrophobia into high gear. One of the characters, named Penny (Jillian Murray of Bad Ass), begins to exhibit signs that the flesh eating virus is inside of her and in one really gory and comedic moment, during some kinky oral sex, we find out that Penny is ripe with the stuff also infecting Marcus’ bro, Josh.
Marcus and Dobbs head out to the island interior trying to find answers while Porter is languishing in the facility with only the responsive Doctor, Camilla, to ease his mind. But Astin, who seems to be on auto-pilot here, is probably one of the only saving graces of the movie. He is tight but not very dynamic and rounded. He has a back story, but one isn’t too keen to care about it all. It is a bit of a mystery and Porter’s dilemma is milked to an interesting degree culminating in a flashback after the final act in the medical facility when the plot unfolds with Dr Edwards, Porter and Marcus. Everything else is by the numbers, though.
Unfortunately, there isn’t much to recommend in “Cabin Fever: Patient Zero.” I would suppose it is for die hard fans of the franchise and even then I would feel safe to assume that fans will feel a bit cheated with the very low budget and small trappings of this installment. Small is cool, for a flick like this, but when paired with the pedestrian tropes that are done over and over, it is quite a deflating affair. It just reeks of “been there, done that.”
There isn’t much new, here and despite having some genuine sensibilities that even Roth can get wrong sometimes, the movie loses momentum and is just a disposable gore filled curio. Only watch this one if you have nothing else lined up or just want to kill some time with a brain dead horror sequel just for shits and giggles. And of course there is an open ended last moment in the movie and if there is another entry in the works, they should concentrate on story, story, story first and foremost other than generic shocks and gore. Do it as a rental, gang, then decide if it’s for you, for a purchase, afterwards.