Friday, August 01, 2014

Cabin Fever: Patient Rudy

It is a horror franchise that already has quite a checkered history. Eli Roth made his name with the original Cabin Fever, but Ti West (then an up-and-coming young horror auteur) unsuccessfully lobbied to have his name taken off Cabin Fever 2: Spring Fever. A comic-book artist like Kaare Andrews might sound like a promising candidate to breathe new life into the prequel, but it is still pretty much the same skin-sloughing viral business as usual in his Cabin Fever: Patient Zero (trailer here), which opens today in New York.

Not to be hopelessly pedantic, but there is no cabin in Zero. Instead, our young and dumb partiers are out for some fun in the Caribbean sun. For his last minute bachelor night, Marcus’s hopelessly irresponsible brother Josh, his business partner Dobbs, and Josh’s girlfriend Penny have whisked him off for a night of hedonism on an uncharted island. Of course, there are no phones or radios to interrupt the good times. After all, what could go wrong, even if the numbskulls somehow managed to pick the one deserted island with an apparently abandoned research facility on the opposite end of the coast?

For a while, Andrews lets the camera ogle Penny’s bikini body (she is played by Jillian Murray, the co-star of the straight-to-DVD sequel Wild Things: Foursome, if that means anything to you). Although Penny is hooking up with Josh, she has some steamy history with Marcus as well. As awkward as that is for all involved, their problems are about to get a whole magnitude worse. After swimming in the viral infected water, Penny and Josh start developing some nasty rashes. It progresses rapidly. Seeking help in the not-so abandoned laboratory, Josh and Dobbs encounter some rabid victims of the virus, the sociopathic Dr. Edwards, and Porter, the naturally immune Patient Zero.

Basically, Zero is all about its gross-out, face-dripping, bloody projectile-vomiting effects, but the lighting is often so low, it is hard to get a clear picture of the gore. The acting is not exactly any great shakes here, even from Sean Astin, a.k.a. Rudy, as the increasingly resentful Porter. Mitch Ryan is ridiculously bland as Marcus, but he is easier to take than the annoying mugging indulged by Brando Eaton’s Josh. At least, Murray delivers what is expected of her, falling to pieces (literally) rather well, all things considered.

Zero maintains the tradition of spectacularly grisly make-up concoctions established by the previous films, but it largely drops the irony and social commentary. The results feel very disposable. If you want to hoot and holler at some on-screen gruesomeness, it has its moments, but it will still outlast its welcome. Bound to disappoint franchise fans, Cabin Fever: Patient Zero opens today (8/1) in New York at the AMC Empire.