Cabin Fever: Patient Zero (2014)

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Cabin Fever: Patient Zero (2014)Starring Sean Astin, Currie Graham, Ryan Donowho, Brando Eaton

Directed by Kaare Andrews

Little did I know, back in 2001 when I was a red carpet reporter interviewing a then unknown Eli Roth about a movie that sounded like yet another cabin-in-the-woods slasher snoozer, that his film – Cabin Fever – would be spawning popular sequels a decade later. Much less sequels that I myself would want to see.

Instead of my usual jaded jab on the disc into the player, I had hope for Cabin Fever: Patient Zero. After all, Sean Astin – from Mikey Walsh in The Goonies to Samwise Gamgee in the Lord of the Rings trilogy – is always fun to watch. And his work in Cabin Fever: Patient Zero is no exception.

While many actors, especially those with a name and experience in bigger productions, would just walk through the scenes on their way to the pay window, that’s not the case with Astin. He’s really good.

But is the movie?

Well, here’s the deal. Cabin Fever: Patient Zero was originally developed as a prequel, which means it feels more like a standalone film than part of a franchise. That’s a good thing, as it adds fresh blood to the proceedings yet stays true to the formula of the original.

Cabin Fever: Patient Zero begins with Astin’s character, Porter. We don’t know much about him except that he’s been isolated in a remote facility run by the CDC and he’s not at all happy about it. He’s poked, prodded, stuck, and sliced by faceless scientists clad in hazmat suits and not given much explanation. But when those around him begin to fall apart due to a deadly pathogen similar to ebola, Porter realizes he’s the sole immune carrier of the disease.

Cut from the dramatic, eerie and harrowing laboratory scenes to – WOOOO! PARTY! – where a small group of foxy friends barely clad in briefs and bikinis embark on a Caribbean bachelor cruise.

While the flick is cardboard cutout cliché from here on out, it’s actually pretty enjoyable. Director Andrews (Altitude) knows horror and suspense, not to mention some effective over-the-top, darkly comic gross-out tactics. These include something we already saw in the equally disgusting, notorious sex scene in Excision (2012), plus a knock-down, drag-out cat-fight between two infected girls… you can just imagine the hair-pulling and biting in correlation to corroding flesh: The fur flies.

Cabin Fever: Patient Zero starts strong, treads water for a while, sinks, and then valiantly bobs to the surface in the end (mainly because Astin is back to bookend his role). Definitely worth a peek.

3 out of 5

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Staci Layne Wilson