Netflix Roulette: Cabin Fever: Patient Zero

I hope everyone here in the States enjoyed their long weekend. I was able to find some time this afternoon to take another spin of the Netflix wheel… and, I don’t think I’ve ever wanted a vacation to have lasted one day longer more than after sitting through this movie.

Cabin Fever: Patient Zero is a prequel to Eli Roth’s debut movie, Cabin Fever (which, I personally think is one of the strongest horror-movie directorial debuts of all time). Apparently, this is actually the third movie in the Cabin Fever franchise… to be honest, I was not aware of the second one… maybe if I had watched the second in the series, I would have had a deeper appreciation of this film… but, I seriously doubt it. Okay, before I start ripping this movie apart, I guess it would be appropriate to sum up the plot of this movie… blerg. The “film” starts with a man (played adequately by Sean Austin (seriously, he did a fine job… but I just can’t take him seriously as an adult actor (even with a beard)… every time I saw him on the screen I wanted to shout “Goonies never say die!”… then realizing I live in an apartment complex, thought better of it)) being brought to an island research facility because he is immune to some unknown virus. At the same time a set of twenty-somethings set off on a bachelor party and they just happen to end up on the same island… mayhem ensues…

Here’s the thing, when you rest your film on the foundation created by a solid horror movie you set yourself up for failure. I spent the entirety of this movie (just around ninety minutes… though, at times it felt like forever… I swear calendar pages were flying by me… the seasons were changing outside my window… my beard and toenails were of equally great length by the end of the movie) comparing it to the original Cabin Fever. The first thought I had was that the filmmakers (writer: Jake Wade, director: Kaare Andrews… you both deserve to have your names called out… shame) simply made a virus-outbreak movie and then the studio bought the rights to Cabin Fever, repackaged the film, and waited for the money to roll in (similar to what happened with Zombi 2… and also my running theory about the 2004 Dawn of the Dead remake (though, that worked much, much better)). Just when I began patting myself on my back and thinking that I am as smart as I sometimes think I am, the callbacks to the original movie started. This took me by surprise, since nothing else in the movie seemed to be connected to the first. For example, they completely changed the rules of the original, so that now the virus turns some of the infected into basically zombies (though, others seem to retain all of their faculties… it’s confusing… but not really worth wasting time or brain cells on trying to figure it out). Where the movie really goes off the rails is in tone. The reason the first one works so well (in my opinion) is that Roth was able to find the perfect balance between comedy, horror, and gore. Here, the filmmakers (writer: Jake Wade, director: Kaare Andrews…never forget) tried (I think) to do the same thing here. However, all of the comedy fell short (it felt like SyFy channel level jokes… it got extremely rough at times). There is a scribble note in my book that says “this movie is attempting to have a sense of humor… I think… maybe… no… perhaps… who cares”. That being said, there was one scene that stood out… that somehow found a way to almost match the original’s tone. I won’t go into too much detail in case you ever watch this movie (though, I have to say that this one scene does not make up for the other eighty-five minutes of hell)… there is a “girl fight” scene between two infected women. It manages to be equal parts gore and equal parts nose-thumbing… it’s pretty wonderful at times.

Finally, if a prequel doesn’t explain anything about the original movie, then what’s the point? Hold on… that’s the kind of thinking that got us The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones (possibly the worst thing ever), and Revenge of the Sith (I refuse to use the name of franchise these movies were a part of)…

Seriously Netflix, if you keep this up, I don’t know if I’ll make it through the summer…


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