PopMatters is moving to WordPress. We will publish a few essays daily while we develop the new site. We hope the beta will be up sometime late next week.
Film

'Cabin Fever: Patient Zero' Is One Pathetic Prequel

Unless you count a last act catfight between two babes that are basically disintegrating into pools of genetic stew right before our very eyes, there's not much to recommend Cabin Fever: Patient Zero.


Cabin Fever: Patient Zero

Director: Kaare Andrews
Cast: Sean Astin, Currie Graham, Jillian Murray, Ryan Donowho, Brandon Eaton, Mitch Ryan
Studio: Image Entertainment
Year: 2013
US release date: 2014-08-01

There's a good reason why the prequel is considered one of the worst movie moves, no matter the genre or franchise. Indeed, the original film is supposed to set things up, provide the necessary narrative foundation and origin impetus for us to become invested in any continuing saga. Going back to rewrite that is not only disingenuous, but antithetical to what you accomplished the first time around. However, in some very rare cases, going back to before the beginning is a necessity, especially when no one really successfully explained what was going on in the first place.

Such is the case with Eli Roth's overrated "hardcore gorefest" Cabin Fever. For some reason, fright fans flocked to this 2002 splatter throwback, giving it and its maker a 'macabre maestro' tag in return. Granted, in a cyclical genre the awash in PG-13 J-Horror, the ample arterial on display was a wet juicy raspberry in the creepshow's commercial face. But that doesn't mean the movie is a masterpiece. In fact, it fails on so many levels that its barely worth the bloodshed.

Still, Roth has bankrolled said startup into a more or less mainstream career, with a string of equally successful scare-a-thons, including the horrific Hostel titles (well, at least, Parts One and Two) and the upcoming Goona-Goona retread Green Inferno. He's also added to his fame as a collaborator and co-star, working with Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez's groovy Grindhouse experiment as well as playing Donny "The Bear Jew" Donowitz in the former's fantastic Inglourious Basterds.

Of course, Roth is nowhere to be found for Cabin Fever: Patient Zero (sometimes referred to as Cabin Fever 3: Patient Zero), probably because he no longer holds the rights to the series. Or perhaps wisely, he no longer claims the end results. Instead, we get a direct-to-DVD level effort centering on how the skin-eating virus at the center of all the storylines came into being. We learn than a man named Porter (Sean Astin) is the title "patient zero," immune to the disgusting disease and held prisoner by a doctor (Currie Graham) desperate to use his blood for a cure.

When a group of bachelor party participants (Jillian Murray, Ryan Donowho, Brandon Eaton, and Mitch Ryan) end up on the same isolated island as our secret science lab, a nice pool of potent victim fodder is found. Before you know it, bros are breaking out in pustules while pus oozes from our lovely lady's open sores. And then they're all infected by the actual "Fever."

Unless you count a last act catfight between two babes that are basically disintegrating into pools of genetic stew right before our very eyes, there's not much to recommend Cabin Fever: Patient Zero. Not the somewhat effective acting of Samwise Gamgee. Not the exotic locales and beachfront backdrops. Not the obvious homages to Fulci and Lenzi. Not even the moments of finely honed gore F/X. Instead, the movie is really nothing more than a make-up reel, a resume highlight from and for someone clearly more talented than most of the current crop on Syfy's fascinating Face Off.

According to his bio, director Kaare Andrews writes and draws "world famous characters like Spider-Man, X-Men, Wolverine and The Hulk" for Marvel. He should stick to the pen and ink. He has no real eye for suspense or dread, telegraphing his jump scares in obvious amateurish set-ups. Someone is backing up to a dimly lit doorway? Guess where the quasi-victim-zombie is going to come lumbering out of? Our suffering heroes run through a dark jungle trying to avoid being ambushed. Guess which overgrown part of the brush contains are baddie with a rifle? Since we know that the disease will eventually get off the island (can't have Roth's Cabin Fever without it, remember?) there's no feeling of urgency or anxiety. Instead, Andrews puts his character's through the script's simplistic motions and prays that the grue will get him through this.

It doesn't quite work out that way. Yes, the splatter is effective. Yes, it's applied in ways both novel and nasty. No, it doesn't really add much to the drama or narrative drive. Still, watching a skin-failing security guard fire his weapon, only to have his hand break off during the discharge and lodge in the middle of his own face definitely falls into the category of something you don't see every day, and the aforementioned girl-on-girl beatdown has a laughable ludicrousness that eventually wins us over (extra points for the use of a sex toy to the soften skull of an angry opponent).

But that's all Cabin Fever: Patient Zero has - blood. There are no real characters, our partygoers are the typical collections of jocks, jerks, and jezebels. You can tell how much Andrews cared about the gender politics of his film. One of our more "buxom" lab assistants starts out shirted, but by the time of the third act, her uniforms become far more low cut and revealing. And then she has a moment of detoxification where she's in nothing but her undies. Huh? Is that REALLY how things go down in a remote secret medical facility? Naturally, it's beyond silly to suggest that Cabin Fever: Patient Zero be realistic. A bit less chauvinistic, on the other hand...

If all you really care about are buckets upon buckets of vein juice, this movie will more or less deliver on your squalid stage bloodlust. Looking for another reason to give Cabin Fever: Patient Zero a try? Sorry, but there's really no other rationale for it to exist outside a cash grab and/or tax write-off. Maybe if Roth had participated somehow it wouldn't feel so wholly unnecessary. As it stands, this prequel is fairly pathetic. Then again, as we said before, you're never going to win trying to explain the popularity of your original idea, so why bother trying? Cabin Fever: Patient Zero confirms this theory in glum, gory spades.

3

Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology and hosting provider that we have less than a month, until November 6, to move PopMatters off their service or we will be shut down. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to save the site.


Music

Books

Film

Recent
Music

Laura Veirs Talks to Herself on 'My Echo'

The thematic connections between these 10 Laura Veirs songs and our current situation are somewhat coincidental, or maybe just the result of kismet or karmic or something in the zeitgeist.

Film

15 Classic Horror Films That Just Won't Die

Those lucky enough to be warped by these 15 classic horror films, now available on Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection and Kino Lorber, never got over them.

Music

Sixteen Years Later Wayne Payne Follows Up His Debut

Waylon Payne details a journey from addiction to redemption on Blue Eyes, The Harlot, The Queer, The Pusher & Me, his first album since his 2004 debut.

Music

Every Song on the Phoenix Foundation's 'Friend Ship' Is a Stand-Out

Friend Ship is the Phoenix Foundation's most personal work and also their most engaging since their 2010 classic, Buffalo.

Music

Kevin Morby Gets Back to Basics on 'Sundowner'

On Sundowner, Kevin Morby sings of valleys, broken stars, pale nights, and the midwestern American sun. Most of the time, he's alone with his guitar and a haunting mellotron.

Music

Lydia Loveless Creates Her Most Personal Album with 'Daughter'

Given the turmoil of the era, you might expect Lydia Loveless to lean into the anger, amplifying the electric guitar side of her cowpunk. Instead, she created a personal record with a full range of moods, still full of her typical wit.

Music

Flowers for Hermes: An Interview with Performing Activist André De Shields

From creating the title role in The Wiz to winning an Emmy for Ain't Misbehavin', André De Shields reflects on his roles in more than four decades of iconic musicals, including the GRAMMY and Tony Award-winning Hadestown.

Film

The 13 Greatest Horror Directors of All Time

In honor of Halloween, here are 13 fascinating fright mavens who've made scary movies that much more meaningful.

Music

British Jazz and Soul Artists Interpret the Classics on '​Blue Note Re:imagined'

Blue Note Re:imagined provides an entrance for new audiences to hear what's going on in British jazz today as well as to go back to the past and enjoy old glories.

Film

Bill Murray and Rashida Jones Add Another Shot to 'On the Rocks'

Sofia Coppola's domestic malaise comedy On the Rocks doesn't drown in its sorrows -- it simply pours another round, to which we raise our glass.

Music

​Patrick Cowley Remade Funk and Disco on 'Some Funkettes'

Patrick Cowley's Some Funkettes sports instrumental renditions from between 1975-1977 of songs previously made popular by Donna Summer, Herbie Hancock, the Temptations, and others.

Music

The Top 10 Definitive Breakup Albums

When you feel bombarded with overpriced consumerism disguised as love, here are ten albums that look at love's hangover.

Music

Dustin Laurenzi's Natural Language Digs Deep Into the Jazz Quartet Format with 'A Time and a Place'

Restless tenor saxophonist Dustin Laurenzi runs his four-piece combo through some thrilling jazz excursions on a fascinating new album, A Time and a Place.

Television

How 'Watchmen' and 'The Boys' Deconstruct American Fascism

Superhero media has a history of critiquing the dark side of power, hero worship, and vigilantism, but none have done so as radically as Watchmen and The Boys.

Music

Floodlights' 'From a View' Is Classicist Antipodal Indie Guitar Pop

Aussie indie rockers, Floodlights' debut From a View is a very cleanly, crisply-produced and mixed collection of shambolic, do-it-yourself indie guitar music.

Music

CF Watkins Embraces a Cool, Sophisticated Twang on 'Babygirl'

CF Watkins has pulled off the unique trick of creating an album that is imbued with the warmth of the American South as well as the urban sophistication of New York.

Music

Helena Deland Suggests Imagination Is More Rewarding Than Reality on 'Something New'

Canadian singer-songwriter Helena Deland's first full-length release Someone New reveals her considerable creative talents.

Music

While the Sun Shines: An Interview with Composer Joe Wong

Joe Wong, the composer behind Netflix's Russian Doll and Master of None, articulates personal grief and grappling with artistic fulfillment into a sweeping debut album.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.