Not unlike Toronto as a prominent character in “The F Word” (2014), gore is a key factor in Cabin Fever: Patient Zero (2014) as each plot point and story turn revolves around it. The scenes that make me watch from between tensed fingers to shield my eyes are the ones that stick in my head weeks afterward. Blood, guts, flesh, ooze, pus, organs and limbs, their texture and, often, trajectory, remains embedded in the “can’t unsee” category of my brain. If you delight in that kind of movie, you will not be disappointed. It should also be praised for the way in which those juicy parts do not come off as overused or cliché, but rather blend into the narrative. Given the immeasurable films in this genre, it’s not an easy feat. Of course I have not seen them all, nor more than most, but I was impressed. In my interview with director Kaare Andrews, I couldn’t even start the conversation without confessing how he’d managed to gross me out and make my skin crawl.
The biggest celebrity in the film also does the most impressive acting job. Not the lead, but peppered throughout the film, Sean Astin plays the titled “Patient Zero” in an alternate storyline that’s intercut with our present day bachelor party victims and their isolated island vacation. As the sequels will attest, it’s no surprise that patient zero does not remain in lock-down as intended. But it’s easy to get pulled into the emotional rollercoaster of him trapped, separated from his family and losing his mind. He wants to see his son but is told he is dead. The virus killed him. HE killed him. Are they telling him he has nothing to live for so he doesn’t escape, doesn’t fight back? Or are they lying to him? What to believe? We’re with him for that ride and it’s a little jarring to switch from that to pot-smoking, nearly naked, fun-loving kids, although I presume that’s the point. The film certainly does not take itself too seriously, and the joking, sarcastic, sexually-charged friends keep the film light and the viewer distracted so that the surprises do indeed surprise and the gore grosses you out.
The premise is otherwise the same. Innocent party-goers at one significant but conveniently isolated celebration inadvertently stumble into an easily transmissible, fatal, but visually elaborate flesh eating virus. There are no bad performances here, but there is no dialogue worth pulling for your acting auditions either. It’s just not that kind of film. It’s entertaining, it’s gross and at the end of it, a slippery, bloody mess of fun