Cabin Fever : Patient Zero (2014)



12 years ago Eli Roth let loose a film that knocked the collective horror universe on it's ass. Cabin Fever, along with films like Saw, High Tension, and Dog Soldiers, stripped away the late 90's horror sheen and replaced the pretty WB actresses with copious gore, buckets of blood, and some tremendous visual imagery. And the films were all pretty damn good as well.

Saw of course, turned into one of, if not the most profitable horror franchise in the history of cinema. High Tension led the onslaught of French horror films that continue to shock movie viewers until this day. Both Roth and Dog Soldiers director Neil Marshall have moved on to direct some of the most known properties of the last decade, Roth with Hostel and it's sequel, Marshall with The Descent and most recently with Game of Thrones. But Cabin Fever, the film that arguably started it all, languished. That is until a couple of years ago when Cabin Fever 2 (review HERE) was announced, originally with Roths blessing and involvement. The end product, directed by Ti West wound up becoming the stuff of film making legend, or rather nightmares. Producer over involvement caused Roth to distance himself from the project and West to petition to have his name removed from the film. Cabin Fever 2, isn't the utter some disaster most predicted it would be. It still had plenty of gross out moments and played fast and loose with the tone enough to make it a worthy successor to the original. And since these are horror films, a recognizable title plus some previous success always equals sequel, or in the case of Cabin Fever : Patient Zero - a prequel.
day. 

Patient Zero attempts to wrap two disparate stories together, converging together in the third act, hoping to add some sort of back story to the first film. The first story concerns your typical group of twenty somethings heading to an empty island off the coat of the Dominican Republic. Typical shenanigans ensue, drinking, drugs, twenty something angst. You've seen it all before. Then two characters go swimming in water saturated with the Cabin Fever flesh eating virus. They break out in the disease, the other two, non-infected folks go look to look for help. Of course they run into the forest rather than taking the boat that's docked at the beach side camp site.

The other, much more interesting story line, is the discovery and quarantine of Porter (Sean Astin), who has been identified as the titular "patient zero." Porter is the only known being to come into contact with the virus and not get infected. He's being held in a facility by the evil Dr. Edwards (Currie Graham) and treated like a lab rat. Much to Porters dismay.

The story comes together when the dopes running away from the working boat stumble upon the top secret, locked down testing facility holding Porter. They manage to find a way to breach the outer walls of the impenetrable facility in roughly 3 and a half minutes. They run into the lab just as it's about to fall to pieces. They all manage to make their way back to the beach and the boat, where movie level hi-jinks ensue.

Cabin Fever : Patient Zero is half a good horror film. Unfortunately, it's also half a terrible horror film. It's a shame that the interesting patient zero parts of the film are sacrificed to bring you 45 minutes of the same shit you've seen in every horror film before. None of the "young people" are even likeable, let alone sympathetic. They all have a layer of assholeness or douchebaggary usually reserved for whatever character Travis Van Winkle happens to be playing in a film. The performances are borderline acceptable to downright terrible out of everyone in the film that wasn't helpful in marching the one ring to Mordor.

If there is a positive that runs throughout the running time of the film it's the gore and special effects. Done practically, the effects in the film are the best in the series. If cringe inducing practical gore is your thing (and I count myself as one of those types) there will be plenty to satiate your appetite here.

Patient Zero is by far the worst film of the Cabin Fever series thus far. On a whole it pales in comparison to anything in the original and even in the sequel - yes, even the inexplicable tacked on ending. Watch it to see what Sean Astin is up to nowadays, and for the copious and awesome looking gore and effects, but not much else. It completely discards the tone and feel of the original, and replaces it with a predictable paint by numbers direct to VOD/DVD horror film. There are worse films out there, but not very many.

** and a half stars out of *****

As always, thanks for reading and "enjoy every sandwich."

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