Indie Spotlight is a series focusing on reviews of independent films
In this latest instalment of the Cabin Fever horror franchise, a man named Porter (Sean Astin) is taken to a secret lab on an uncharted island in the Dominican Republic, which is run by Dr. Edwards (Currie Graham). Porter is the carrier of a deadly flesh eating virus and seems to be the key to a cure, since he doesn’t display any of the symptoms. Meanwhile, Marcus (Mitch Ryan), who is in the Caribbean for his wedding, sets off with his friend Dobbs (Ryan Donowho), brother Josh (Brando Eaton), and Josh’s girlfriend Penny (Jillian Murray) for a bachelor party getaway on the island. However, it isn’t too long before these partygoers come into contact with the virus and must find a way to survive.
2002’s Cabin Fever is best known as the debut film of filmmaker Eli Roth. Even though nearly a decade past before I finally saw Cabin Fever for the first time, I admit to liking the film, which was a decent mix of dark humour and growing dread, with just enough of an ick factor. I have yet to catch the 2009 follow-up Cabin Fever 2: Spring Fever, which was directed by Ti West (though he disowned the cut of the film that was released).
Cabin Fever: Patient Zero is being positioned as a prequel to Cabin Fever, even though the action takes place on an island in the Caribbean, instead of a cabin in the woods. Sean Astin is the only recognizable face in the film’s cast, as he plays the titular Patient Zero, who seems to be immune to the deadly flesh eating virus. There isn’t that much backstory given to Porter, other than the fact that his son died of the disease and the opening prologue shows him being carried away to Dr. Edwards’ lab, where he is doomed to be quarantined and experimented on.
While Astin really seems to be trying with his performance, the same can’t be said about practically every other character in the film. With the exception of the primary protagonist Marcus, I found myself caring very little for the four party goers that come to the island, since they are generally unlikeable jerks, who are really only there to inevitably get infected at some point in the film and die horrible gory deaths. While admittedly the first Cabin Fever also had some poor characterisations, I at least found myself sympathizing with many of the characters. That was really not the case in this film, in which the characters are only there to move the plot forward.
If there is any real saving grace to Cabin Fever: Patient Zero, it would be the gore, which is admittedly quite impressive for such an obviously low budget film. While inspired by some of the visuals from the first Cabin Fever, much of the gore in Cabin Fever: Patient Zero also seemed to have more in common with zombie films, with many of the infected individuals in the film having a very undead look to them. In fact, the film seems to borrow 28 Days Later’s habit of having the infected vomiting up blood. The gore in the film is quite over-the-top and there were some pretty impressive kills. That said, I admit to rolling my eyes a bit at an extremely gory catfight in the climax of the film, which really seemed to highlight Cabin Fever: Patient Zero’s trashy nature.
In conclusion, I am going to be completely honest and say that Cabin Fever: Patient Zero is a completely unnecessary cash-in, with unlikable characters and a somewhat lackluster plot. The film is only worth watching for its final third and somewhat impressive gore effects. Other than that, I don’t really care much for it.
5 | INDIFFERENT
Cabin Fever: Patient Zero plays tonight at select Cineplex locations as part of the Sinister Cinema series