DIRECTOR Kaare Andrews WRITER Jake Wade Wall STARS Sean Astin; Currie Graham; Ryan Donowho DVD & BLU-RAY 17 March
This seems like an odd franchise; the original Cabin Fever was 12 years ago, a minor hit and cult favourite thanks to its back-to-the-70s look and Eli Roth’s entertaining blend of splatter and quirky humour. A terrible, comedy-driven sequel popped up in 2009, and really that was where it should have ended. Patient Zero — the title belonging to a subject infected with but immune to the horrific flesh-eating virus that holds this trashy trio together — trades in on the name but brings little of the enjoyment. Shot in the Dominican Republic, the film looks good but has very little else going for it. Trying hard for the gross-out it pushes too far, and instead becomes ridiculous, losing any of the horror that it needs to succeed.
Somehow Sean Astin (The Lord Of The Rings) managed to land himself in the middle of this, cast as the titular patient, and he tries hard to little avail with the weak script, being kept in quarantine on an island by a group of scientists who need his blood for a vaccine. When a pre-wedding yacht party land on the island for a typical session of sex and drugs the outcome is obvious, especially when Astin, stricken with grief from the death of his family, cuts his own hand and starts rubbing his infected DNA over the scientists, while elsewhere the party find piles of dead fish and develop nasty rashes on their perfectly tanned skin.
There’s very little more to it and therefore not a lot to recommend Patient Zero. Exploitation doesn’t have to be classy but it does have to be entertaining, and this is a film that drags, despite the copious amounts of gore on display. After some nasty deaths (and the old-school make-up effects really are the only thing worth recommending this for) a silly climax features a truly terrible and totally out-of-place cat fight that concludes with one of the characters getting her skull caved in with a large sex toy. If that sounds appealing you’ll no doubt be pleased to hear that a fourth instalment, Outbreak, is on its way later this year. For the rest of us, cheap thrills are available elsewhere.