Movie: *** 1/2 out of 5
Video: *** 1/2
Article first published as Blu-ray Review: ‘Cabin Fever: Patient Zero’ on Blogcritics.
There was a lot of buzz surrounding Eli Roth when Cabin Fever
was making the festival rounds back in 2002 before its theatrical
release. With a story involving a flesh-eating virus in the backwoods,
Roth delivered plenty of yuks and yucks, and gore hounds had a new
favorite on their hands.
Seven years later, cult-favorite Ti West was tapped to direct a
sequel that wound up going through the wringer of studio suits, and West
tried to get his name removed — even though the film isn’t that bad. You can still clearly see West’s ode to ’70s horror even if producers added more gore and sent it straight to video.
another seven years later, with the rights lapsing with Lionsgate no
less, here comes a prequel that sets out to clarify the virus’s origin
in Cabin Fever: Patient Zero, out September 2 from Image Entertainment.
Here, we meet a group of friends gathering for the wedding of Marcus
(Mitch Ryan) in the Dominican Republic. Marcus’s brother Josh (Brando
Eaton) has chartered a boat to take them — along with best friend Dobbs
(Ryan Donowho) and long-time unrequited love Penny (Jillian Murphy) — to
a deserted island for an impromptu bachelor party.
What they don’t know is that the fast-spreading virus has been
introduced to the surrounding beach waters, and a group of scientists —
led by Dr. Edwards (Currie Graham) — has quarantined the infected Porter
(Sean Astin), who seems to be a host to the virus and may be key to a
cure, something our intrepid partiers may find handy after Penny and
Josh contract the virus while snorkeling.
Image Entertainment unleashes Cabin Fever: Patient Zero on
Blu-ray as a bare bones release — the film’s trailer isn’t even included
— on a 25GB disc in a 2.40:1 aspect ratio. Considering that the film
was shot digitally, and slapped onto a cheap disc, it’s no surprise to
find it riddled with noise. While banding, aliasing, and crush are never
present, it’s too bad this one aspect couldn’t have been cleaned up.
It’s also surprising to find it so prevalent considering there are no
special features to compete with and only one audio track.
As it stands, detail and color are spot on, something that comes in
handy whenever the gore finally comes into play in the final half hour.
If it weren’t for the distracting noise, this would be a great picture.
As for the 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track, it too falls short, but
still manages to make the environments come alive and deliver the LFE
punches one expects in a horror film. Surrounds are always buzzing once
night envelops the island and the bugs come out to play. Directionality
also helps during a few key sequences when something happens off-camera.
The main problem with Cabin Fever: Patient Zero
is that it falls victim to the time-honored horror tradition of
assuming viewers don’t care where the virus came from. Considering that
the original film took place in deep in the woods, the tropical
birthplace makes zero sense. While the end credits feature some clips to
fill in the gaps of how the virus spread throughout the island
facility, and shows a key character making his escape to the mainland,
the whole film feels like a wash because the originally planned sequel
to this has already been scrapped. You should probably look at this as a
standalone feature; that will help it hold up on its own.