Rudy, err, Sean Astin stars in this generic Cabin Fever sequel that blood and skin can’t save from mediocrity.
Flesh-eating viruses aren’t as fun as they used to be in this generic new entry in the Cabin Fever franchise. Eli Roth’s original Cabin Fever was one of the few new-school horror films that paid homage to classic splatter horror, while putting a fresh spin on it. The movie was a big enough success to spawn a capable sequel in 2009, directed by Ti West. Cabin Fever: Patient Zero shares nothing in common with those films, except a title and the general premise of a flesh-eating virus run amok. Director Kaare Andrews utilizes a cast of virtual unknowns around Sean Astin as they deal with the killer virus on a tropical island.
Marcus (Mitch Ryan) is getting married in the Dominican Republic. A small group of friends since childhood plan to take him on a yacht for a bachelor party to a remote island. Marcus’ brother Josh, his business partner Dobbs, and Josh’s girlfriend Penny (Jillian Murray) have all been friends for years. What Cabin Fever: Patient Zero fails to do is make us care about any of these characters. They are all cliches of one kind or another, from Josh the buff meathead to Dobbs the stoner. Drop-dead gorgeous Penny is probably the most interesting as the required eye candy and center of a love triangle between the brothers. In a head-scratching move, Penny is the first to develop the horrible virus. There goes the eye candy for the rest of the film.
Things seem fine when the friends arrive on the tropical island, supposedly uninhabited. Josh and Penny take a swim in the ocean, while Marcus and Dobbs relax on the beach. Things start falling apart quickly when Penny develops boils and terrible rashes on her skin – the flesh-eating virus is in the ocean and has killed off the marine life as well.
The movie develops along a parallel track with the titular patient zero, Porter (Sean Astin). As the movie opens, Porter is being kept in isolation by a Dr. Edwards. Porter is told he might be responsible for a global pandemic if his contagious virus escapes into the wild. Porter is fed up being caged like a rat and realizes the scientists are never willingly going to release him. Porter is important for a possible cure, as he is the only patient that has been exposed to the disease and survived.
The separate threads eventually come together in every way you would expect. Most horror fans understand sequels are often only loosely tied to the original movies. Eli Roth’s Cabin Fever had a zany kind of energy to its madness that made it an enjoyable genre film. This installment offers little more than a disposable script presented in a generic wrapper. The movie runs 94 minutes but feels unnecessarily padded at that length. There is nothing original enough to demand that much screen time.
Some might read this review and think Cabin Fever: Patient Zero is terrible. It’s not that bad. Performances are mostly competent by its leads and Jillian Murray shows enough skin that the entire thing is not a complete waste. It just is a highly disposable flick, forgotten almost as quickly as it was seen. The one great scene in the film occurs too late to save its derivative characters. Two corpses of rotting flesh get into a vicious cat-fight, the only memorable moment in this sequel.
Image Entertainment provides a decent presentation of the film on Blu-ray. This uncut version at 94 minutes is supposedly longer than the original theatrical cut, which likely saw a token release. Using RED Epic digital cameras, Cabin Fever: Patient Zero is a movie of inconsistent picture quality between its two halves.
The opening act includes sun-drenched beaches in brilliant exterior shots, exuding strong definition and clean contrast. While not the best 1080P video, the exterior shots have nice detail and nearly stunning clarity. The second half takes place in much darker environments, inside Porter’s medical facility. The night shots are fairly typical of digital video, including noisy moments with rather average shadow delineation. There isn’t black crushing but the visibility is far more limited in those scenes.
The adequate AVC video encode is limited to a BD-25. It does average a steady 25.98 Mbps, though a few stray bits of banding and compression noise occasionally pop up in the mostly clean digital video. Presented at 1080P resolution in its native 2.39:1 aspect ratio, the digital cinematography is not award-winning but gets the job done. Some of the early scenes are real winners with the natural beauty of Dominican Republic’s tropical beaches, but the rest is forgettable.
The 5.1 DTS-HD MA soundtrack has decent fidelity in a loud, overbearing audio experience. Expect to hear a lot of mid-bass and rumble come from your surround system as the soundtrack is carried by a standard genre-sounding score. It does localize sounds reasonably well with exact placement. Some of the dialogue is a bit muffled, particularly Porter’s early dialogue. This is a fairly standard mix that sounds like so many other recent direct-to-video efforts.
Image does include English SDH as a subtitle option. Displaying in a white font outside the main widescreen ratio.
Aside from trailers that precede the main menu, Image Entertainment has left this disc bereft of special features. This set does include a DVD version and a slipcover is available. The embossed slipcover is actually one worth checking out for collectors.
Aftermath trailer (01:51 in HD)
All Cheerleaders Die trailer (01:32 in HD)
Wolf Creek 2 trailer (01:34 in HD)
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Click on the images below for full resolution screen captures taken directly from the Blu-ray. Images have not been altered in any way during the process.