21st Feb2014

‘Cabin Fever 3: Patient Zero’ Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Sean Astin, Currie Graham, Ryan Donowho, Brando Eaton, Jillian Murray, Mitch Ryan, Solly Duran, Lydia Hearst, Claudette Lali | Written by Jake Wade Wall | Directed by Kaare Andrews

Cabin-Fever-3

I distinctly remember the hype surrounding the release of the original Cabin Fever movie – written and directed by then newcomer Eli Roth, the film was touted as a new breed of horror, made for genre fans by a genre fan. I also remember when the film was eventually released there was somewhat of a backlash, after all it wasn’t much more than a mix of backwoods horror and “melt movie”. But the film did well enough to warrant a sequel which, after wrangles between director Ti West (House of the Devil) and the films producers – who re-edited the film to such an extent that West disowned the movie, was released in 2009. Slammed by even those who loved the original film, Cabin Fever 2: Spring Fever was a critical and commercial flop. So it came as somewhat of a surprise when a third film was greenlit and it was set to be a prequel to the first two movies as well.

Cabin Fever 3: Patient Zero tells the story of the original viral outbreak and the titular (and immune) patient zero, played by Sean Astin in an atypical villainous role. The film sees a group of friends head out on a bachelor party cruise in the Caribbean who unexpectedly run ashore a medical research island where the franchises deadly flesh-eating virus was originally unleashed. The group struggle to find a way to survive before their own demons, and the deadly bacteria, consumes them all…

If you’re even contemplating watching the third installment in a franchise that has suffered, both in terms of sketchy release patterns and poor word-of-mouth, as badly as the Cabin Fever series has then undoubtedly no review is going to sway you either way – for or against the film. So what can I actually tell you about Cabin Fever 3: Patient Zero? Well, first off, I enjoyed this film a hell of a lot, more so than the original film. And that’s completely down to Sean Astin, who outshines the rest of the cast as the “patient zero” of the title who, as it turns out, is not as innocent as the credits sequence would have you believe. Turn’s out he’s quite a bit of a bastard even behind the glass walls of his containment room, reminding me very much of Anthony Hopkins deranged Hannibal. In fact I’d go as far as saying this is Astin’s Silence of the Lambs, as he delivers a tour-de-force performance that manages to balance villainy with his characters faux-innocence superbly. Give the man more bad guys to play I say.

The other star of Cabin Fever 3: Patient Zero are the special effects… gruesome is not the word. From effects guru Vincent J. Guastini (Sushi Girl, Silent Night) the film has some truly stunning, incredibly stomach-churning, and amazingly gooey flesh-melting FX. Faces fall off, skin tears off, arms snap, legs snap, blood literally spurts from everywhere, whilst one character literally has his faced slapped off! There’s also a particularly shocking cunnilingus scene between two virus-infected victims that ends just as gore-filled as you can imagine! This is one time I can safely say that gorehounds will be well and truly satisfied by the blood and guts on show in this prequel.

If there’s one thing you can guarantee having Kaare Andrews behind the camera, and that is that the on screen visuals will belie any budgetary constraints thrust upon him. Altitude was a decent Twilight Zone-esque tale that made more of it’s small story thanks to a combination of tight storytelling and good CGI; and Andrews’ short “V is for Vagitus” was THE high point in the decidedly mixed bag of shorts that was The ABCs of Death - showing what you can achieve in a short time and on a low budget and unlike a lot of the collaborators on that film, he actually managed to tell a story within the time he was given.

And Cabin Fever 3: Patient Zero is no different.

Andrews and writer Jake Wade Wall have somehow managed to craft a tight, yet fun, rollercoaster ride of a melt movie that tells a brand new story, without retreading ground already covered in the previous movies – all the while bringing everything full-circle to events of the first movie come the films denouement. To achieve that with a franchise as “troubled” as this is no mean feat.

A surprisingly successful third film, Cabin Fever 3: Patient Zero is released on DVD and Blu-ray on March 17th, courtesy of Signature Entertainment.

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