Movie Review - Cabin Fever: Patient Zero
In this prequel to Eli Roth's 2002 feature length powerhouse, Cabin Fever, the film makers manage to dial down the silliness, yet still capture the spirit of the original. Roth's film was equal parts horror and humor in his love letter to Sam Raimi's The Evil Dead, but Kaare Andrews' picture feels more like an homage to Fulci's masterpiece, Zombi. This is a straight forward outbreak film done on an extremely small scale, and the resulting product works as the perfect back story for the franchise. With just the right amount of gore and reverence for the source material, Cabin Fever: Patient Zero should go over well with fans of the original film. Currently available on VOD, Amazon, and iTunes, I highly recommend you support this film. Oh, and if that wasn't enough to convince you, fucking Sean Astin is in it. Yeah, fucking Rudy. So...
On a remote island in the Caribbean, Porter (Sean Astin) is being held in quarantine in a research facility. He is being studied due to his bodies natural immunity to an unknown flesh-eating virus with which he is infected. Meanwhile, on another island a group of childhood friends are preparing for a bachelors cruise. While celebrating the upcoming nuptials out on their party boat, they spot the remote island and decide to set up camp on the beach. After taking a small boat to shore, two of them decide to go snorkeling and discover hundreds of dead fish. They retreat from the water but it isn't long before they start showing signs of the infection. When they are forced to seek help, they discover the research lab and find that almost everyone inside is dead. And soon the group is forced to try to find a way to survive the deadly disease.
The acting in the film is pretty solid, with Sean Astin lending some gravitas to a cast of young pretty people. Don't get me wrong, that is not to detract from the performances from the rest of the cast, this is a compliment. Every member of the ensemble understands their role as a walking and talking set piece, mainly used to demonstrate the devastating effects of the virus, and they handle it ably. Ryan Donowho, Brando Eaton, Mitch Ryan and the lovely Jillian Murray are all talented and manage to create characters that are likable, but none of them draw focus from the real star of the film here: the Make-Up Department. My hats off to everyone of them: George Frangadakis, Andrew Freeman, Vincent J. Guastini, Gage Hubbard, Josh Wasylink, and Brian Wheatley. The makeup in this one is as good as, if not even a tad better than the original (as evidenced in the photo above). They don't hold back on the gore and once the rotting flesh and vomiting of blood commence, it never lets up. And although the film is not exactly scary, it's definitely not for the squeamish.
I have heard some complaints online (imagine that) with the title of the film, as none of the action takes place in a cabin. But is it really that hard to see the connection between the films? Come on. Now, it's entirely possible that going into this film with low expectations had something to do with my enjoyment of it, but regardless I found it to be pleasantly surprising. Is Cabin Fever: Patient Zero a great film? No. But, neither was the original. If you liked the first film, I think you'll enjoy the prequel much more than the sequel. With that being said though, I don't know that they need to add any more films to this series anytime soon. Enjoy. Cheers.