Ti West [mostly anyway]
Rider Strong - Paul
Giuseppe Andrews - Deputy Winston
Noah Segan - John
Alexi Wasser - Cassie
Rusty Kelley - Alex
Regan Deal - Liz Grillington
Marc Senter - Marc
Michael Bowen - Principal Sinclair
Genre - Horror/Comedy/Virus
Running Time - 86 Minutes
Starting from where the first CABIN FEVER left off, Paul (Rider Strong) somehow wakes up after being dumped by the creek where the flesh eating virus had infected him and all his friends. Disfigured due to the effects of the virus, Paul stumbles through the woods looking for help. Unfortunately, he is hit by a school bus while crossing the road, splattering his body into unrecognizable pieces. Deputy "Party" Winston (Giuseppe Andrews) investigates the case, claiming the driver hit a moose, although he suspects something is up.
Meanwhile, the virus [now in every bottle of water taken from the infected creek] has made its way to a high school preparing for its prom. Loser John (Noah Segan) has a huge crush on his best friend, Liz (Regan Deal), who is the ex-girlfriend of the biggest jerk in the school, Marc (Marc Senter). Even though he's reluctant to go to prom without the girl of his dreams, his best buddy Alex (Rusty Kelley) convinces him to go stag with him. The good thing about going is that the truth is revealed and John comes closer to what he wants. The bad news is that the CDC has quarantined the school, who are now getting infected by the virus.
I have three words for CABIN FEVER 2: SPRING FEVER:
WHAT THE FUCK!?
I have three words for CABIN FEVER 2: SPRING FEVER:
WHAT THE FUCK!?
- The gore. CABIN FEVER 2: SPRING FEVER is nowhere as good as Eli Roth's 2002 breakthrough film. But the gore for both films are pretty close to the same level of disgust, silliness, and making people cringe. We get a lot of body parts falling part. We get deformed skin, with blisters, pus, and really bad peeling. We get a ton of blood. We get arms getting amputated. We get penises being mutilated. We get a childbirth gone really wrong. We get a ton of projectile vomiting. We get a human body completely splattered by a bus. CABIN FEVER 2 is more of a gorefest than an actual horror film. Sad to say, but this is without a doubt the highlight of this sequel.
- The tone and look of the film. I'll get into the whole Ti West scandal later, but the footage that's used in the film that he directed establishes a pretty easy vibe that I liked both visually and mood-wise. CABIN FEVER 2 comes across as an 80s teen, John Hughes movie, but with tons of gore and gross effects. The look of the film resembles that of the decade, intentionally looking less polished than modern horror films. It creates a more upbeat vibe that's the total opposite of the dread Eli Roth put in his film. Was this the right direction? Maybe not. But at least I can tell it was a Ti West film because of it.
The more interesting part about what West directed are the homages he makes to other movies. Besides the obvious inspiration from 80s teen comedies, we also get homages to John Waters, an EVIL DEAD II moment, a [REC] moment, to THE CRAZIES, and even a CARRIE moment. While these moments sometimes made me wish I was watching those movies instead of this one, at least they worked within the context of the film. I honestly didn't think the film looked that bad, but I really can't judge the direction by West because he didn't have any control over the editing. But he did shoot and what he was aiming for were positives in my opinion. Too bad his version of the film will probably never see the light of day and was wasted in the final product.
- Some of the acting. Not all the acting worked for me, but some were better than others. Noah Segan was the best main actor as John. He looked way too old to be a high schooler [most of the actors did, to be honest], but his character had the most depth [meaning he actually had a substantial arc I can relate to] and was more likeable than others in the film. Giuseppe Andrews returns to play "Party Man" Deputy Winston. It's the same performance from the same film, except it's more serious once he figures out what's going on with the virus he thought he had contained in the first film. I didn't hate his performance, even though I thought it was pointless. But he did what he had to do and did it well. Michael Bowen as Principal Sinclair wasn't that bad either. Plus we get cameos by Rider Strong [who adds nothing to the film really - deserved better], 30 Rock's Judah Friedlander, and AMERICAN MOVIE's Mark Borchardt as the cousin of Deputy Winston. Besides Strong, the cameos are actually kind of cool and funny. Other than that, everyone else is otherwise not great or not worth really spotlighting.
- The disco theme from PROM NIGHT (1980). Whoever added this song to the film is a genius. Just a fitting song for a fitting location - this raised the score on its own for how clever it was. We also get "Born To Be Alive" by Patrick Hernandez - one of my favorite disco songs. A cool soundtrack that made the film more tolerable than it had any right to be.
- The story and characters. Oh boy, where do I begin? The narrative to this film is so generic, cliche, and ridiculously stupid. You've seen this film a million times before in multiple genres. The only difference is that the script is not as well written and heavily relies on gore effects to keep the viewer's attention. That's fine on a visual standpoint, but it don't matter much deep down when everything in between is dumb and not memorable by the time the film's over.
The biggest issue with the story are the characters in this film. While some slightly have a bit of depth, most of them are just stereotypes that don't get enough time or material to become more than just that. John's arc is the typical teen movie arc - he's in love with his female best friend, who was in a relationship with some jackass that treats her like crap. He tries to make her see what a fool she is for having dated this jerk, but since this a-hole is popular, she thinks about him until the end of the film when she realizes that her soulmate was her male best friend the entire time. I'm not going to knock the template. It has worked for many years now and people can understand and relate to it. My issue is that nothing new is done with it. That wouldn't be possible anyway since the characters involved aren't developed enough to make this plot meaningful. I'm never sure why Cassie doesn't like John from the beginning. John is seen as a nerd, I guess because he's smart, but he's not a bad looking guy and doesn't come across as socially awkward in any way. Yet Cassie would rather be with a guy, Marc, who treats her like his property rather than his girlfriend, while bullying John because John talks to her. I don't get Marc's deal, nor does the screenwriter care to let us in on it, but he makes you want Cassie to be with John by default because he has no depth other than being a total prick. Marc barely gets any screentime either, so he never feels like a true rival for Cassie's affections. As for Cassie, she seems smart enough to know better but doesn't see the error of her ways until the end. Not because Marc does something really terrible to her, but because the film needs to have her together with John by the conclusion. The dynamic between these three character never feels organic because we barely know anything about their relationship with each other. Hell, we barely know anything about them period. And what we do know about them isn't doing them any favors. Hell, even John has his moments when he's confessing how much he loves Cassie by screaming at her. Now I see why she refused to date him. What a love story.
The other characters are no better. Alex, John's best buddy, is more of the stereotypical outcast with his slightly larger build, glasses, and being the film's comic relief [although he's not that funny]. He's more focused on sex, which is perfect for a teenage boy, but we don't know much about him other than how much he values his penis once it falls off of his body. Liz is an underage stripper who gives blow jobs to classmates who give her sympathy every time she's dumped. Normally, men like that sort of deal - in our dreams. In reality, we're well aware that we'll probably be pissing blood while taking two weeks worth of antibiotics to treat the infection right after the act. We also have a principal that may or may not be gay, even though that storyline doesn't go anywhere. We have a disgruntled janitor who pisses blood into a bowl of punch because some studios make a mess of the school, even though it's his job to clean the school to begin with. We have this guy who is into this overweight girl, but ends up dying while barely trying to save her after having sex in a pool. And we have two students who would rather watch horror films than go to the prom, but that story never goes anywhere important either. I'm not sure if this was intended in the screenplay or these stories were cut in the final version of the film through editing, but it makes you wonder why these characters are in the film to begin with and given time to make us believe their stories will go anywhere.
And then there's Deputy Winston's arc. The fact that this character is even given a serious storyline is a mistake from the start. Winston worked in the original because he had a small role to create a few laughs and a bit of surrealism as an officer who's more interested in smoking pot and banging girls rather than being a hero. At the end of the first film, it seems he understands to contain the virus, getting rid of Paul's body to make sure no knowledge of this infection is leaked out. He wasn't in the film a lot and he had a specific role. It was perfect.
I understand Winston is in the sequel in order to somehow connect the two films together, and I'm fine with that. But his character is completely different this time around. At the beginning of the film, he seems like the same guy. But once the film continues, he becomes heroic and serious about his job. He figures out that the infection is going to spread nationwide due to the bottled water company and wants to stop this from happening. I'm glad the screenwriters added this arc in the film because it's necessary. But Winston is the wrong character for this because he comes across as a goof-ball. Plus, his character, while given more to do, was better when we knew less about him. He was the party cop that didn't do anything. That's a good character in a silly horror film. But to make him serious, more responsible, and somewhat heroic seems against his character and what was established in the first film. I guess some would call it character growth. I just think it makes a secondary character less interesting.
I also had an issue with the virus itself. In the first CABIN FEVER, it took a while for the symptoms to take effect. And the infection took effect on the characters in subtle ways. In the sequel, it's like a fast acting viral infection that effects people the moment they drink the water. They show physical signs of it right away by vomiting, losing body parts, peeing blood, and etc. all at the same time - the prom. It's pretty convenient and perfect timing that makes the whole thing less believable than it should be. At least I bought the infection in the first film, especially when there was no outside help to save them. The virus felt like a threatening character in the first film. It feels like a punchline here.
- The editing and the ending. As many of you know, Ti West was hired to direct this sequel by Lionsgate. He completed principal production in 2007, but Lionsgate sat on the film for whatever reason. It was later found out that the studio hired someone to direct an extra ending that didn't please West at all. He also wasn't allowed to edit his own film, as Lionsgate edited the film themselves for a 2009 release. West wanted his name off of the film, as the final version wasn't his version. But due to not being a member of the Directors Guild of America, he couldn't use the pseudonym "Alan Smithee" and his name remained on the film. West still denounces his involvement in this film to this day.
So while the visuals are good, Lionsgate really screwed up in terms of piecing this film together. It feels like an unfinished film, as characters come and go without reason, and some subplots seem to end before they begin - as if there was more to them than what we actually see. From what I read, some storylines were supposed to be deeper and more important than what we see in the final product. The producers, however, just wanted to create a gorefest that they felt would sell copies on home video rather than create a decent sequel.
This is no more evident than in the tacked on ending involving Liz at the strip club, where the infection continues to spread. This is a pointless sequence, as the original ending [while not great] would have worked better as a conclusion than what the studio felt these extra 5 to 10 minutes would. It doesn't feel like it belongs in this film at all, fitting in better as a deleted scene that had no right being inserted into the actual film. The film isn't great up to this point, and the ending really brings it further down. It has decent gore effects, but none better than what the film had before it. I can see why Ti West wouldn't want to be associated with this version of CABIN FEVER 2.
- The animation sequences. Cheesy animated sequences open and close the film, displaying the journey of the infection from the woods of the first film into the school, to the strip club, and to a much broader section of the country. I guess they were supposed to be cute, but I thought they were pretty boring and lazy. I would have preferred if these were done in live-action scenes, since it's not like it would have taken a lot to have real locations and actors to make these sequences more effective. I did think the opening sequence was better than the ending sequence. But they lacked subtlety and just seemed to reveal too much. I think the information of the traveling disease could have been achieved in a better way that wasn't so corny.
THINGS I'VE LEARNED WHILE DRINKING FROM THE TAP
- Marc pushed John around because he was interested interested in his ex-girlfriend, Cassie. This must have been the same high school Chris Brown went to!
- Some chick chewed on her pen, which just had been splattered on by the internal juice of a dead frog. If she ever goes down on a dude, he'll know how he got genital warts.
- If you ever cheer up a girl who got recently dumped, she'll give you head. No wonder Kim Kardashian goes through a lot of men. She's heartbroken, not a slut.
- Some kids rather watch horror films than go to the prom. Why not do both? Jamie Lee Curtis and her disco moves could use the attention and the royalty check.
- Alex's fingernail was peeling off. Either he has the virus, or he's been conducting an experiment that accidentally got mixed with the genetic code of a housefly. Neither one sounds fun.
- The janitor peed blood into the punch bowl. He must have been one of the men who comforted Kim Kardashian.
- The infected pregnant girl gave birth to mostly a pool of blood. This is the most violent episode of 16 & Pregnant I have ever seen!
- If you want to get one over a cop, you bribe them before doing an elbow drop on them. And they say Vince McMahon is a bad influence.
THE FINAL HOWL
CABIN FEVER 2: SPRING FEVER is a disappointing sequel to a film that I actually enjoy, even though there are many who don't. The gore is a highlight, as well to cool homages, some decent acting, and a sweet soundtrack. But the story is a mess, the editing is even messier, and the addition of scenes behind director Ti West's back is just bad business and an insult to the man's vision, whether it would have made the film better or worse than it currently is. This sequel wasn't needed, but if it had to be made, there was serious potential to create a worthy follow up. As it stands, CABIN FEVER 2 isn't a boring film but it's not one I would recommend to anyone. Skip this prom and stay home to watch horror films. I suggest the first CABIN FEVER. It's a much better film. Don't let yourself get infected by this lame sequel.