One Horror Honey's Retrospective of the Cabin Fever Films
Let's get this out of the way right off. I don't like Eli Roth. I never have. And I never will. One of my foremost dreams in life is to find him and kick him in the gentles. However, personal feelings aside, I usually end up seeing his films whether I want to or not. I saw Cabin Fever early on, because the movie was filmed practically in my back yard. And since I'm a nerd about watching every movie in a series (i.e. a masochist), I have watched Cabin Fever, Cabin Fever 2: Spring Fever, and Cabin Fever: Patient Zero. And um... well... Let's just go through them one by one, shall we?
Cabin Fever (2002): It was September of 2002, and I had just started my freshman year of college. Eli Roth, who was being hailed as the savior of horror cinema, had filmed his debut film, Cabin Fever, just about four miles from my house. Despite some personal misgivings, I watched a screener with a friend who somehow managed to get ahold of it in the days before internet piracy. And I was... annoyed. I thought the movie was blatantly misogynistic and I have no patience for that. (SERIOUSLY! What woman is going to keep shaving her legs even when they're falling off? Not one. Not one real woman would do that.)
I've watched the original Cabin Fever several times since then, and I have come to appreciate certain aspects of it as a genre film. The makeup and gore effects are pretty spectacular in their ability to induce gagging. The acting is meh, but somehow appropriate given the subject matter. Of three Cabin Fever films, it's impossible to say that the original isn't the best, but I've never responded to it in the way other horror fans seem to. The original Cabin Fever is a decent enough effort from a first time filmmaker, it's disgusting, and it's entertaining. But for me, it is not the be-all, end-all of horror film making that other's claim it is.
Cabin Fever 2: Spring Fever (2009): Sigh. Here is a little fun fact about this sequel filmed eight years or so after the original: Director Ti West (House of the Devil, The Innkeepers, The Sacrament) asked to have his name removed from the final version of Spring Fever and replaced with the famous Hollywood, "I didn't make this shit film! Don't look at me!" pseudonym, Alan Smithee. His request was denied and now, a director that has made several impressively old school horror films will forever be connected to this dumpster fire.
The first time I watched Spring Fever, I was actually excited as the movie began. The film is bookend-ed by some really awesome animated sequences. When I realized early on that the tone was meant to be more humorous than the original, I tried to watch it as a spoof. Unfortunately, almost nothing that happens in this movie is actually that funny. Cringe-worthy? Absolutely. But in a good way? No. Gooey penises, mocking overweight teenage girls, ripping off Carrie... Sorry-not-sorry, but none of this is actually funny. I actually really wanted to like Spring Fever. But in the end, I couldn't overlook how across-the-board disastrous this movie was.
Cabin Fever: Patient Zero (2014): Despite my rule about watching a series in its entirety, I had seriously considered just skipping this most recent entry in "slimy people losing their skin after having sex" franchise. But then, I saw Sean Astin was starring. Uh... what?
So, because Sean Astin was one of the loves of my childhood thanks to The Goonies, I settled in and watched Patient Zero. And hot damn! While the original Cabin Fever film may be technically the best, I have to say that this dark horse is my favorite of the franchise. Now before you go yelling at me and calling me names in the comment section, allow me to sell you on this weird Cabin Fever origin story.
Patient Zero is a prequel, and introduces us to the origins of the virus that took over the vacationing scumbags in the original film. We follow a group of dudes and one lady on a bachelor party set on an abandoned island (will people never learn?) Of course, the island is also home to a lab that is containing a flesh-eating virus so you know, not really a party kind of atmosphere. There are moments in Patient Zero that are absolutely horrifying, but also moments that are funny in a "rolling my eyes" sort of way. But in the end, I definitely enjoyed it more than the other two films, which is a first.
So after seeing all three films, I would rate the series as follows:
Cabin Fever (on a technical front, though I enjoyed it less)
Cabin Fever: Patient Zero (easily my favorite for entertainment's sake)
Cabin Fever 2: Dumpster Fire... I mean Spring Fever.