A group of friends planned the perfect vacation in the Caribbean, but when they head ashore to explore a remote island, their ultimate bachelor weekend devolves into their worst nightmare. After an ill-fated swim in contaminated water, they stumble upon a seemingly abandoned research facility where a deadly, flesh-eating virus has been unleashed. In the aftermath of a massacre, the only people left alive are a handful of secretive medical personnel and "Patient Zero" (Sean Astin), the lone person who’s been exposed to the disease and shows no symptoms. Can they find a way to survive and escape, or will the virus consume them all in a bloodbath of chaos and carnage?
Back in 2002, Eli Roth became a household name in the horror film community with his successful big screen debut 'Cabin Fever'. That film depicted a group of friends who vacation in a cabin together and come down with a very rough and scary skin disease that ultimately kills them and turns them into some sort of human cannibals. It received rave reviews at the film festival circuit earlier that year and became a cult favorite over the years, letting director/writer Eli Roth produce and direct many more films, even helping him develop a great friendship with Quentin Tarantino.
In fact, 'Cabin Fever' was conceived by Roth while he was on vacation, and he developed some bad skin disease that literally tore his skin off. When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade, right? In this case, yes you do. Well it took seven years to make a sequel, which was called 'Cabin Fever: Spring Fever', and was directed by horror movie favorite Ti West (House of the Devil), but his producers and studio executives took creative control away from him and changed the film completely, thus causing him to request that they take his name off the project completely. Because he wasn't a part of the Director's Guild, they declined his request and kept his name on the project. This is still a sore subject for him. And in 2012, the studio announced a pair of prequels, one of which is this release 'Cabin Fever: Patient Zero', while the other one has been completely scrapped and will be replaced by a straight remake of the original.
Now, most sequels usually provide an origin story of where something great or vicious started. We would usually learn its beginnings and how it became a widespread phenomena. But 'Patient Zero' isn't so much interested in any of that. The infectious disease is still a mystery and this prequel is mostly just about something that happened before the first movie, which is okay in this instance, because of its solid performances, decent plot lines, and treasure trove of gore and blood. There are two stories going on here and director Kaare Andrews does a good job of separating them and merging them together into a cohesive plot. When he's not searching for rich stuff or helping Frodo on an adventure, Sean Astin is in fact the 'Patient Zero' named Porter who is the sole survivor out of a bunch of people in the Dominican Republic who have contracted the flesh eating disease, which kills and mutates their hosts in a matter of a couple of hours.
Porter is taken to an underground research facility led by Dr. Edwards (Currie Graham). None of the scientists or doctors are particularly nice to Porter and keep him from contacting any friends or family, as he is now just a lab rat with no freedom. After a while, he realizes he might end up in this prison for a long time and he aims to escape by any means necessary. The other story line is one of a very romantic wedding where Marcus (Mitch Ryan) is set to wed the beautiful Katia (Claudette Lali). The night before the wedding, some of Marcus's friends take him to a remote island for bachelor party of sorts filled with snorkeling, drugs, and alcohol. But when a few of them go swimming and realize that there are no fish, but rather dead fish carcasses, the flesh eating disease makes it's ugly appearance. The island, which seems to be vacant, might not be so lonely after all as both stories converge.
Astin gives a great performance as does Graham here. The bachelor party does its job too, but 'Patient Zero's' script keeps the twists coming at every corner, even during the end credit sequence. And what would a 'Cabin Fever' movie be without gore. CG and practical effects are mixed in very nicely for all the blood and guts you could want for you gore-hounds. I don't think anything will have you leaving the light on at night here, but you can bet your paycheck this will make for a fun and highly entertaining dark comedy-horror film with a good script, great visual effects, and a performance by Astin like you've never seen.
'Cabin Fever: Patient Zero' comes with a great 1080p HD transfer presented in 2.40:1 aspect ratio. This prequel looks quite nice for being a direct-to-video installment of a relatively successful franchise. The entire film was filmed digitally and transferred digitally, so the image as a whole is very crisp, sharp, and vivid. Even during the darker scenes, which is almost the entire film, the detail is very sharp. And since there are no extras on this disc, the refresh rate is amazing. Again, the detail is very sharp, allowing you to make out every piece of gore, rash, and infection quite nicely. Individual hairs stand out and the detailed makeup effects looks incredible.
The colors have a darker palette most of the time as most of the film takes place in dark areas or at night time, but in those day time or interior scenes, the colors are well-saturated and pop off screen. Black levels are always deep and inky and the skin tones are always natural and never infected (sorry). This image does not have a filmic look, but rather a very pristine digital look, which is okay with this kind of release. There were no issues of banding, aliasing, or any other kind of compression problem, leaving this video presentation with great marks.
This release comes with a solid lossless DTS-HD 5.1 audio mix and is what horror films should strive for. It's loud, robust, and fully immersive. The screams, gore, growls, and hits pack a good punch and are quite frightening. Even when the film is in it's non-horror mode, particularly in when the snorkeling scene takes place, the surround speakers pour out great ocean sounds, which make you feel like you are in the middle of the water. It all sounds very realistic.
Dialogue is always crystal clear and easy to follow at all times and the sound effects are top notch here. The directionality is great, the LFE is excellent, and the dynamic range is very wide. And the score by Kevin Riepl is very creepy and hits all of the right notes, while never drowning out the dialogue or sound effects. Hissing, cracks, and pops are non-existent as well, leaving this audio mix with a good grade.
There are no supplements.
'Cabin Fever: Patient Zero' is a surprisingly decent horror film. For being a direct-to-video film, I was wholly satisfied by the good performances, excellent makeup, and CG effects, and a good amount of gore that kept this horror movie highly entertaining. The video and audio presentations are both great, but having zero extras was a bummer here. Where are the effects or deleted scene bonus features? That being said, I'm still recommending this fun gore fest for you horror fans. It's worth the money, especially since Halloween is coming up.