Mitch Ryan - Marcus
Sean Astin - Porter
Ryan Donowho - Dobbs
Brando Eaton - Josh
Jillian Murray - Penny
Currie Graham - Dr. Edwards
Solly Duran - Camila
Lydia Hearst - Bridgett
Claudette Lali - Katia
Genre - Horror/Virus
Running Time - 91 Minutes
On an island laboratory, a man named Porter (Sean Astin) is being quarantined by a group of scientists, due to the fact that he seems immune to a flesh-eating virus that has murdered everyone he has come in contact with. Frustrated with the fact that he's being treated like a lab rat, Porter takes drastic measures to make his escape.
Meanwhile, Marcus (Mitch Ryan) is a former frat boy who is now marrying into a rich family. For a bachelor party in the Dominican Republic, Marcus' friends decide to treat him for a drunk and drug filled lash hurrah on a yacht and on a nearby island. After a swim in the ocean, Marcus' brother (Brando Eaton) and his girlfriend (Jillian Murray) notice rashes on their body that causes the flesh to peel off the bone. As the fear spreads, so does the contagion, making Marcus and his friends search for help at the nearby lab on the island.
Good Things: The most obvious thing I can commend is the gore. Sandy Arias and Vincent Guastini did a very good job elevating the silly gore effects that appeared in SPRING FEVER to something more cringe-worthy and nasty that resembled the gore from the first film. The "going down" scene with Brando Eaton and Jullian Murray, where Eaton comes up with the lower part of his face covered in blood, is a highlight. The evolution of the rashes that appear on the infected is done believably. We get people vomiting blood. People get their faces eaten. And we get a great catfight between Murray and Lydia Hearst where the two ladies tear each other part - literally. I think the best part about it all is that the gore effects were done practically instead of CGI. If CGI was used, I couldn't even tell. So great job.
I also thought the acting was fairly good as well. Sure, the younger actors weren't the greatest and you probably didn't care about their one-note characters. But I thought they fit their roles well enough to be watchable. The real star for me was Sean Astin, who I was surprised to see in a film like this honestly. He could have just coasted on his name and collected a paycheck with a less-than-inspiring performance. But Astin really gave depth to what should have been a one-dimensional character. Astin made Porter complex, with his frustration, desperation, and even sadism towards the end. Honestly, I wish the film was just about him and his situation without the other characters involved. I thought Astin carried his portions of the film really strongly.
Speaking of Porter, I thought any scenes involving this character were the most interesting. We've already seen the classic group that deals with the infection, leading to terrible things at the end. But having a character who is immune to the flesh-eating virus was a nice development. And I like how Dr. Edwards saw Porter as a way to become famous, sacrificing his own staff as lab rats to see what would happen, while trying to create a cure for his own worth rather than to save others. Could these scenes be more developed? Absolutely. But it was something different for this franchise and I liked how serious and adult it was presented.
And hats off to director Kaare Andrews for directing a nice looking film that visually connected itself to the first CABIN FEVER. Andrews showed a lot of confidence in his visual style, handing both sub-plots pretty well while giving each one a different tone and feel. The cinematography was strong, with the use of an isolated island and its laboratory to good use for some cool shots and angles. The editing was strong and it was paced well. Definitely an upgrade from SPRING FEVER for sure.
Bad Things: For a film called CABIN FEVER: PATIENT ZERO, it barely focused on Patient Zero [Porter]. While we do get multiple scenes with Porter and his situation, PATIENT ZERO is still more concerned with the token partying characters who unknowingly contract the virus, with the gore effects being the stars once the virus takes over. It's not like these scenes are terrible. In fact, this generic setup for the virus spread has some cool moments and even decent character arcs that are revealed towards the end. But like I mentioned - Porter's scenes are adult and well-written. The bachelor party is your typical debauchery and profanity laced stuff one would expect from a film like this. I think with a title like PATIENT ZERO, it should focus on Patient Zero. I get that you need young, good-looking peeps to have sex, get naked, and get dead by a flesh-eating virus. It's good for the bottom dollar. But it just looks generic next to a more interesting sub-plot that could have explained a few things and maybe even led to more installments before they were scrapped for a remake [don't even get me started on that!].
Speaking of explaining things, isn't PATIENT ZERO a prequel? If that's the case, shouldn't it have given us info on how this virus came to be? This film doesn't even touch on that, starting when the virus had already killed people. Also, why is Porter immune to the virus, but everyone else isn't? Again, never explained. If the Patient Zero deal wasn't going to be given a fleshed out arc, I would have preferred an entire film with the other characters, with the film presenting itself as a direct-to-DVD/Blu sequel that improved on its predecessor. I thought it was a missed opportunity. I would have liked to have known the origin of this virus. I guess we'll never know now.
THE FINAL HOWL
I was surprised how much I liked CABIN FEVER: PATIENT ZERO, especially since I really disliked CABIN FEVER 2: SPRING FEVER and wasn't expecting much at all. It's not a great movie and it feels more generic than it ought to, considering the title. But Sean Astin is pretty solid as "Patient Zero", elevating the film for me quite a bit. Plus Kaare Andrews' direction is confident and the gore effects are pretty sweet. If the film had given us some info on the flesh-eating virus and focused on the "Patient Zero" aspect more, this review would probably be a lot different. But it settles on familiar territory and doesn't give us enough reason as a must-see film. If you liked CABIN FEVER and/or neat practical gore effects, PATIENT ZERO is definitely worth a look. Otherwise, quarantine yourself from this one.