Time for the third installment of the Cabin Fever franchise, Cabin Fever 3: Patient Zero. If I have to use a single word to talk about this film it would have to be unbalanced. This issue is a running theme, from the acting to the pacing it all feels just a little off. Starting at the beginning of the film, since Patient Zero is supposed to function as a prequel, and in no way feels like one to me. If anything, it feels like a regular third installment, which isn’t a good thing for a prequel.
The film opens with Porter (Sean Astin), the lone survivor of the fleshing-eating virus being delivered to a secret island laboratory ran by Dr. Edwards (Currie Graham). Where he’s tested on for months to try and find the reason he’s asymptomatic. Dr. Edwards is aided in the task by his two attractive colleges Camilla (Solly Duran) and Bridget (Lydia Hearst). Camilla is the only one that seems to have an issue with how Porter is being treated, but not enough to ask to many questions. Meanwhile, on the mainland Marcus (Mitch Ryan) is getting ready to be married is taken out for a last minute bachelor party by his younger brother Josh (Brando Eaton) along with his two childhood friends Dobbs (Ryan Donowho) and Penny (Jillain Murray). The group boats north to find a deserted island on which to party and settles on one that seems fine, even though it has a building on the other side. After getting dropped off by the captain, who agrees to return to the following morning to pick them up. Inside the island facility Porter infects an aid, forcing the building to go into quarantine. The man he infects later infects Bridget as Dr. Edwards has her hold him down while administering some kind of antivirus. Of course that goes about as well as you can guess. On the beach while Dobbs and Josh smoke pot in the camp site, Penny and Josh go snorkeling to look for fish, which they don’t find. Instead the find infect body parts. Penny rushes back to the camp site understandably freaked out. Meanwhile Josh plays it off having not seen it himself. Quickly Penny starts to develop a rash, one quickly spreads into a full blown case of flesh-eating virus as the water is full of infection. As her condition worsens and Josh starts developing symptoms himself. Josh and Dobbs head to the building on the other side to look for help…
There are two things that really make Patient Zero feel unbalanced, the first being Sean Astin. Who as always, delivers an amazing performance. Astin alone is worth watching this film for as he sells his role every moment. The same can’t be said for the others in this film. Even Currie Graham, who just sort of just walks through his film delivering a lackluster performance. The kids on the beach aspect of the film doesn’t feel so bad until they start to share time with Astin, who outshines them noticeably.
The second is the switching between Porter in his cell story line and the beach goers story line. As for the vast majority of the film they are two are almost completely unrelated. It’s only during the final moments during flashbacks is the overlap revealed. The two feel like two completely separate films with the story of those on the beach feeling much more like a Cabin Fever film than the exploits of those inside the medical facility. I’m not sure if Astin sold his lines better or if the writing in the scenes were just better, because Josh’s friends scenes become groan worthy as the film goes on while Astin’s stay pretty good.
The gore effects though, took a noticeable step back-up with some pretty gruesome visuals. Though while higher caliber in execution, it’s still played heavily for laughs. Which becomes incredibly noticeable during a handful of scenes where the infected are killed off in styles that are more befitting a slap-stick comedy, rather than a horror film.
Final thoughts, it’s pretty good. Not as good as the sequel, but certainly better than the original. Sean Astin does a great job, but one performance alone can’t carry a whole film. The other actors are B grade and it really shows when stuck up against someone with Astin’s acting chops. The gore effects are grisly, but at the same time ultimately forgettable. Though I would recommend this film, which is nice since the other in the series aren’t required viewing. 6/10