I never actually saw Cabin Fever 2 but I heard enough about it to know I shouldn’t be upset about that fact. Plus with Patient Zero being billed as a prequel/quasi-reboot of the franchise, I figured it was ok to skip straight here. I haven’t seen the first Cabin Fever since it was in theatres but to its credit I certainly remember a lot of the ickier moments. The leg shaving scene stayed with me for a very long time and “pancakes!” was pretty fucking insane so that one has remained stuck in my craw as well.
Outside of maybe one scene, Cabin Fever: Patient Zero is not likely to stay in my memory past the next 24 hours.
Sean Astin (who I met just a few months ago which made his presence here more exciting for me personally as I always love to be able to do the “oh my god I met that guy!” game) plays the titular (take a shot!) patient zero who is being kept locked up in a lab on an island while very young and attractive looking movie scientists attempt to find a cure for the virus he is carrying. Meanwhile a group of generic and uninteresting young people head to the very same island to have a bachelor party and bicker about boring shit. Uh oh, I hope these guys don’t encounter the same virus that Sean Astin is….yeah they totally catch it.
Patient Zero doesn’t exactly come charging out of the gate. The opening bit which introduces Astin is pretty ok but then we have to settle in with the actual protagonists of the movie and that’s when everything grinds to a complete stop for far too long. I don’t care about these peoples’ problems. I really, really don’t. Yet I have to sit here and listen to them for what feels like forever before they even get to the island. This dude’s getting married and his buddy is upset for some reason. Also one guy used to bone his brother’s current girlfriend. Oh no the guy getting married might walk away from the business he started with his friend! No! Oh wait….I don’t care. It’s character development done by having them just spout character development instead of actually, you know, showing actual character development.
I might sound like I’m being unreasonably harsh as many horror movies, many great ones to boot, feature characters that are barely one dimensional. However with a movie like this I feel it’s important to become attached to the characters as you know how bad shit is going to get for them so you want to like them so you have some sort of reaction once things go south. Either that or you want to hate them so much that you actively root for their demise. You don’t get either of those here. You just get a bunch of generic characters that you don’t cheer for or against. You simply watch them go through the motions and feel very little at all.
A lot of this could be forgiven if the movie had the same sense of gross-out weird fun that the first Cabin Fever had. It does not have this. Much of the movie is actually rather boring as we watch the leads roam around the lab in the dark, occasionally confronting a virus victim. You do also have the character who is slowly falling apart as a result of the virus and this is the closest Patient Zero comes to capturing the spirit of the first movie, mostly because a lot of it (including a disgusting genital moment) feels like a direct lift from the first movie.
It’s still a very goopy movie as we get lots of what appear to be practical effects work as limbs and skin fall off people at a pretty consistent rate. There is a lot of great make-up work as we see people in various states of decay. The definite highlight of the movie is an extended cat fight between two female virus patients who are literally falling apart as the fight progresses. The movie could have used more sequences like this; ones that are gross but also darkly hilarious. Unfortunately this scene is really all we get but at least it’s a very good one.
Patient Zero is meant to be a reboot of the Cabin Fever franchise but I really don’t see that coming to fruition. Yes the ending (which is actually quite good I must admit) does leave events open for continuation but not in a way that I necessarily need to see play out. So I would expect a full on restart of the franchise sometime within the next five years. The Cabin Fever. You wait, it’s coming.