Cabin Fever: Patient Zero (2014)
Editor’s Notes: Cabin Fever:Patient Zero opens in limited release this Friday, August 1st.
We live in a cinematic world awash with sequels, prequels, reboots, and reimaginings. Every summer, the original feature dwindles like an endangered species, with a bastion of based-ons eroding their stake of screen time with a growing frequency. This is not to fully denigrate the concept of a sequel, but rather to call into question the thinking that lives behind it. The continuing story is easy, what with its built in fan base and established mythology; there is a lesser need to develop the world of this story as it has been previously constructed. But this simplicity fosters laziness, and following closely behind is mediocre to flat out bad cinema. Cabin Fever: Patient Zero is another entry in the Cabin Fever family, and if anything, it shows that that this already shallow well has fully run dry.
Cabin Fever: Patient Zero is another entry in the Cabin Fever family, and if anything, it shows that that this already shallow well has fully run dry.
Marcus (Mitch Ryan) has found the girl of his dreams and a lavish future in the Dominican Republic. As he prepares to celebrate his wedding day, he must first deal with the growing nuisance that is his old life, personified in old friends and his eternally bro-y brother. Despite a desire for a low key evening, a surprise bachelor party is thrown in his honor. He is taken to a yacht, and off the group goes to a secluded island for an evening of drinking and drugs. Unfortunately, they have chosen the wrong island, as a flesh-eating virus grows around them.
This plot is only the tip of the iceberg, for if the film is to live up to its title, it assuredly needs to have a dastardly villain and some virally resilient patient. Enter Sean Astin to fill the token role of has-been actor in desperate need of a paycheck. It comes as no surprise that Astin is the best actor among the bunch, but in this field of CW-ready pretties with talent that begins and ends at their gifted genetic makeup, it surely isn’t saying much. The bunch of them deliver their lines as if reading them off of camera side cue cards, unaware of the words they speak until they come flailing out of their mouths. Calling the delivery wooden is offensive to trees, and the gratingly awful acting is at the very least a lesson in how not to kick start your career.
Blaming the actors for this complete failure of a movie is unfair, like faulting the painters for a house that caved in on itself. The plot is an utter mess. Less like one cohesive film, the absurd story attempts to fuse spring break adjacent antics with evil doctor outbreak sensibilities and only comes off as a last minute attempt for completion. The two underdeveloped threads are slammed together and prove that when two incomplete crap ideas are put together, the result is just a mound of feces. The dialogue is written with the finesse of a sledgehammer and scoffs at the notion of authenticity. Glancing at writer Jake Wade Wall’s credits leads one to ponder what kind of dirt he must have on Hollywood execs. Wall has made a career out of delivering garbage horror that is entirely derivative and lacks the necessary scares of its own genre. All this while leaving viewers questioning his actual grasp of the English language. It would be impressive, if it weren’t so damn depressing.
The Cabin Fever series has never really been about the traditionally scary, rather it tapped into the inherent fears that we have concerning our surrounding world, or at least the first one did.
The Cabin Fever series has never really been about the traditionally scary, rather it tapped into the inherent fears that we have concerning our surrounding world, or at least the first one did. It was a gore-fest that made your skin crawl. Cabin Fever: Patient Zero does none of these things. The situations are convoluted and the experiences had by all is nearly alien. Where the characters once acted as audience surrogates, and allowed the viewer to be sucked in and allow fear to arise from the ubiquitous what-if, that has all but fallen away. Now the audience acts as voyeurs watching the struggles of some vaguely human individuals. The problem isn’t that the film has gotten rid of the landmark of the series, but that it hasn’t replaced it with anything of substance. Couple that with makeup that is mediocre at best, and there isn’t really anything left to get excited for.
The B-movie label doesn’t even feel appropriate for Cabin Fever: Patient Zero. There is nearly no nudity, disappointingly executed gore, tedious and poorly shot action, and nothing that could be described as actually frightening. Hell, it doesn’t even have the courtesy to have a healthy sense of humor. Some bad films at least have the good grace to be enjoyably pedestrian, but this is not one of them. This lengthy exercise in ineptitude culminates in an ending that will undoubtedly lose even the most devoted Cabin Fever fan, being so convoluted and unnecessary to be downright maddening. Cabin Fever: Patient Zero simply does nothing well; the makeup isn’t particularly impressive or grotesque, forget about any semblance of originality or plot coherency, and it just plain isn’t scary.
Cabin Fever: Patient Zero simply does nothing well; the makeup isn’t particularly impressive or grotesque, forget about any semblance of originality or plot coherency, and it just plain isn’t scary.