Film Review: Cabin Fever: Patient Zero

A return to the stripped&#8211;down ferocity of Eli Roth's no-frills 2002 shocker, <i>Cabin Fever: Patient Zero</i> (which the title suggests is a prequel, though it doesn't really feel like one) lacks originality but delivers the body-horror goods far

In the Dominican Republic, fine-featured blond Marcus (Mitch Ryan) is about to marry his wealthy, pampered Latina fiancée, who vanishes from the story the minute her plot function—luring naive gringos away from the safety of American shores—is fulfilled. But first, Marcus' party-hearty brother, Josh (Brando Eaton), and longtime pals Dobbs (Ryan Donowho) and Penny (Jillian Murray), a tarty tomboy regularly described as "one of the guys," intend to show him a sun-and-surf heavy good time in an uninhabited jungle paradise known as Diablo Island.
What they don't know is that the island is home to a research lab where mad doctor Edwards (Currie Graham) is trying to find the cure for an exceptionally virulent flesh-eating virus. Edwards' hopes are pinned on "volunteer" subject Porter (Sean Astin), who lost his son and Habitat for Humanity colleagues to an outbreak but appears to have a natural immunity to its ravages. Edwards is convinced he can isolate and synthesize whatever biological quirk it is that protects Porter and banish the grotesque bug to the attic of yesterday's microscopic bogeymen. Yeah, sure.
Meanwhile, Penny and Josh have developed painful and rapidly worsening skin rashes after a distinctly unrelaxing dive that landed them in the middle of a graveyard of grody fish parts. Dobbs and Marcus dutifully go looking for medical help, but by the time they find Edwards' clinic and dare to think their troubles are over, hell is busting out all over: Edwards has lost control of the virus and it's transformed his staff, from doctors to security guards, into murderous monsters.
And that's pretty much all there is to the plot: Purported heroes, villains and innocent bystanders alike are exposed to the horrible virus and/or its previous victims and must try to run and scream their way—mostly through a series of dingy rooms dressed to suggest places where sophisticated science stuff goes on and caves that fairly scream “crappy set!”—to something other than a bloody-eyeballed, flesh-shedding, gore-smeared demise.
And there you have it: Run, bleed, scream, blister, repeat. Cabin Fever: Patient Zero (which, by the way, Porter isn't, unless CF: PZ is a prequel to 2002's Cabin Fever, which it doesn't appear to be) is a paint-by-numbers canvas accompanied by several tubes of red paint. It's entertaining enough if you're a fan of rotting-girl catfights (less fun than you might think, but still very, very gross) and evil conspiracies, but there's no there there and little reason to stick it out to the predictably miserable end except so you can say you did.

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