October 21, 2016

Cabin Fever: Patient Zero

Cabin Fever: Patient Zero didn't suck seven different kinds of ass. I'd call it maybe a four-ass sucker.

Now I know what you're thinking: This one has forgotten whether its heat-sink is over capacity. You're also thinking, "But Carl Eusebius, a direct-to-video* prequel to an Eli Roth gorefest has to suck at least 6.3 different kinds of ass, according to my highly advanced scienmatifical calculations." But really, the worst part of this movie is that it keeps getting in the way of itself. Any time it starts to build any sort of tension or interest, it goes out of its way to shoot itself down like the Soviet air force on a jetliner full of innocent civilians. Well, and it shamelessly objectifies and abuses women, but I already said "Eli Roth". The thing is, yer old pal Carl Eusebius has seen far worse than this, even in the "stupid people aimlessly wandering around darkened rooms and occasionally shooting zombies" subgenre. I actually paid attention for the whole of this film's expansive 94-minute running time. At this level of filmmaking, that puts this movie in a higher category of suck. But I still hate it, because with just a little more effort, the movie could have ascended the quality mountain to reach the peak of "kind of okay", but the filmmakers just couldn't be bothered to strive for such a Herculean accomplishment.

Oh, and the objectifying and abusing women thing.

A shaggy-bearded No, Mr. Frodo! stars as the titular patient zero of the titular cabin fever, a disease that causes you to sprout unconvincing rash make-up and projectile vomit blood, but only if there's somebody close enough for you to spew infected puke all over. No, Mr. Frodo!, who I guess left his acting in his other beard, is being held in a secret cell on a tiny uninhabited island somewhere near the Dominican Republic because the cast and crew wanted a vacation in paradise while they shot their shitty wannabe-exploitation flick. Unfortunately for the people in the original Cabin Fever--that blistering sore on the collective ass of humanity--the scientists studying patient zero (that's scientist-speak for the first documented case of a disease, though in this movie he's inexplicably immune) are the dumbest motherfuckers on the face of our Earth and are totally incapable of preventing an outbreak, let alone actually creating a cure. They have a patient infected with a certain-death, uncurable blood-born pathogen, and not only do they allow him easy access to sharp instruments (he only has to yank a bit at the metal grating that is, of course, on the inside of his cell window rather than the outside), but they give him privacy in his cell so they can't even see him doing this. Good God, if you're going to be dumb enough to give him privacy (there's a reason cells in real prisons lack curtains, y'all), at least don't allow it where the easy-to-remove-and-slice-yourself-open-with metal grating is.

But they do, so the next time the moonsuited scientists come into his cell, No, Mr. Frodo! reaches under the hood of Guy Who Isn't the Main Evil Scientist and gives him a good NHL facewash (the guy's hood isn't even velcroed down or anything), and this causes a lockdown that quarantines the immediate environs of the cell. No, not the whole facility, just the 3 people who have speaking roles were in the area of the cell at the time. Everybody else gets to leave. This is despite the fact that Main Evil Scientist (who's really trying to be Kevin Spacey and sucking hard at it) earlier specifically said it wasn't an airborne pathogen. So why are Hot Blonde Assistant and Mangled English Scientist Lady Who Constantly Reminds Everyone That Patient Zero Is Still a Human Being being quarantined? They weren't even in the cell! Only Guy Who Isn't Main Evil Scientist snorted infected hobbit blood. How the hell is that a "containment breach" that the loudspeaker is bleating about? Nothing's been breached, and they have containment. No, Mr. Frodo! is still in the cell, and so is the one guy he infected. This ain't Captain Trips, here.

Fuck this movie.

Now we get to the significantly less interesting (no, really) part of the movie. As I said, every time this movie does something right or builds any kind of tension or interest at all, it invariably ruins it immediately, usually by cutting away from the interesting part to our merry band of thirtysomethings. (Actually the IMdb says two of the four are under 30, but they sure don't look it.) They're such stock stereotypes that I'm not going to bother giving you their names. Lord knows I never paid attention to whatever their names were. Let's see, we've got Nerd, his brother Jock (who seems to have gotten all the washboard abs in the family), and their best friend Stoner, along with Liara T'Soni as the woman the filmmakers paid enough to appear topless for about 2.5 seconds. I mean, it's so perfunctory you wonder why they even bothered. She's Jock's girlfriend (in the sole believable moment of this tripe, because a woman who looks like Liara isn't going to be with Nerd or Stoner), and she comes along on Nerd's bachelor party, which consists entirely of our foursome alone on the blood-puking plague island. I'm having flashbacks to House of the Dead here, and that ain't a good thing, since House of the Dead sucks donkey balls and Uwe Boll is a crime against humanity. After Nerd gets mad at Stoner and Jock for talking shit about his fiance (um, it's a bachelor party, you dumb asshole, that's what they're supposed to do), Liara follows him back to his cabin in the little ferry they're taking to Blood-Puke Isle and doffs her top right in front of him(!) because they apparently had a fling some summer back. So forget what I said about believable. I know Jock's a complete asshole and a lunkhead (and somehow Nerd's brother, even though they look about as alike as Arnold Schwarzenegger and Rob Schneider), but, well, Nerd is kind of an asshole too (must run in the family), and he's got the build of a meth addict and Bon Jovi's hair. I refuse to believe Liara ever embraced eternity with the lovechild of Benedict Cumberbatch and Andy Dick. And now she's topless and coming on to him when her boyfriend/his brother is right outside the flimsy door to this tiny ferry cabin. Such is the raw animal magnetism of Nerd. He rather wisely leaves (probably the only sensible decision any of the characters makes), and that's it, folks. That's the first of the three functions the filmmakers have for Liara in their film. And believe me, showing a flash of nipples to Napoleon Dynamite over here is the classiest of the three.

I hate this movie.

Stoner and Nerd go off to smoke marijuana while Jock and Liara snorkel for a bit. The latter two run across the corpses of like 30 fish, causing Liara to freak out and head for the tent. Stoner and Nerd wonder what her problem is, to which Jock responds, "Liara thinks she saw something." Thinks she saw something? You swam past 30 dead fish, you dumb motherfucker! She wasn't alone, you were there! This wasn't a glimpse of a shape in the darkness. You're snorkeling in the Caribbean! The water was clear as day, and there were dozens of dead fish! You couldn't possibly have failed to see them. God, what an asshole. Jock also notices a rash on Liara's arm, which he thinks is sunburn(??). Uh, genius, sunburn on one part of one arm, and nowhere else? Even Jock realizes how stupid he sounds, so he next suggests an averse reaction to salt water(???). Um, Jock? Just stop with the suggestions, alright? She gets sick quickly, complaining of feeling hot, and the "sunburn" rapidly turns into bad make-up effects on her neck and arms. She has another freak-out, but Jock assures her some calamine lotion will fix her right up. As he goes to get it, she notices he has a rash, too, but Jock's still blasé about the whole thing. I'd be a bit more worried that you both turned up with the same rash at the same time after snorkeling with a bunch of fish corpses, ya mook. We then get the second reason Liara is here. It turns out that being infected with a blood-puking plague puts her in the mood, and Jock goes down on her right there in the tent. She lets out a blood-curdling scream that all three men mistake for orgasmic bliss, making it immediately clear that none of them has ever heard a woman orgasm outside of porn before. Proud of his work, Jock looks up so the camera can see his face and chest are covered in blood (I'm beginning to think the filmmakers have issues with women here)--uh, he didn't notice that??--and then she projectile vomits blood into his face. Um, okay, he's already ingested plenty of her blood through his earlier, uh, activity. Plus, she saw the same rash on the back of his leg, so he was already infected. See, this is what I mean about the film screwing up any hope of being any fucking good. In any decent movie, it would be the oral sex that infected him. But no, they have to pile it on by having her puke on him, and oh yeah, he was already infected just by swimming in the water with her, so none of this even matters. He was dead 10 minutes before this scene even started. Did anyone take even a moment to think about this stupid movie before they rolled camera? They're taking "gratuitous gore" to a whole new level, here.

Jock stumbles out of the tent, covered in blood, and deadpans. "I think Liara's sick." Gee, you think? The movie's so scattershot it's hard to tell what's intentionally funny and what's just hilariously bad writing, but I think that's one of three genuinely funny lines in the movie. It's suddenly almost night, and only then, hours after Liara's bloody puking episode, does Nerd decide to wander aimlessly around the island looking for help. Liara and Jock are getting sicker by the minute, though Liara is much worse off, I guess because she's a girl? I don't think infectious diseases work slower on lunkheaded oafs, so why does she get sick faster? Jock goes outside to disinfect his terrible make-up job but only succeeds in hurting himself. Liara comes out of the tent because she's having difficulty breathing, leading to Jock's immortal line, "Get back in the motherfuckin' tent!" I believe--one can never be too sure with this movie--that this is the second intentionally funny line. In the meantime, Main Evil Scientist is determined to continue experimenting on No, Mr. Frodo! even during the 48-hour quarantine, but they only have one moonsuit locked in with them, for the simple reason that if they had more suits the following scene couldn't happen. It turns out that Guy Who Isn't Main Evil Scientist is getting sick a lot faster than earlier cases, meaning there must be a new strain of the disease. Main Evil Scientist asks Hot Blond Assistant if she trusts him, to which she responds, "With my life"(??). So I'm guessing he didn't get her from a temp agency, then. He puts on the moonsuit and injects Guy Who Isn't Him with a potential cure, without strapping the guy down or anything, and HBA doesn't even put on a surgical mask. Guy starts having an episode, screaming and thrashing around, so MES demands that HBA help hold him down. She begs off, since, you know, she doesn't have a suit and the guy might puke blood all over her and infect her with the New and Improved Blood-Puking Plague, but he calls her out about her trust issues, so she comes over and helps. Suddenly, just when we most expect it, Guy pukes blood all over her. I mean, he fucking aims at her. MES is closer and moonsuited, so Guy could've puked on him, but Guy must have a grudge against HBA because he absolutely nails her, with nary a drop hitting MES. There's then a genuinely effective scene as HBA seals MES in the room with Guy (he looks at her like this is some big betrayal, but, um, you're still in the suit, and oh yeah you just got her death-puked, blockhead) and runs horrified to the chemical shower, stripping off her clothes (but on her salary, only down to her bra and panties) and trying in vain to wash the blood off, even though we know and she knows that it's too late and she's doomed to become a blood-puking zombie.

So we immediately cut away to Nerd wandering in the jungle at night bickering with Stoner over Nerd's fling with Liara that one summer. Yes! Because when your two best friends are dying horribly, Stoner, that's the time to start shit with your third best friend over petty drama from years ago!

See what I mean about the movie sabotaging itself? It doesn't know what it wants to be. Sometimes it's an almost kind of okay outbreak movie, then it's a terrible stoner comedy, then it's a (not at all) sex(y) romp, then it's a zombie movie. Each part of the movie is almost entirely self-contained and keeps getting in the way of the others. It's a Frankenstein's monster of a movie, only Frank never got around to actually sewing the parts together.

Let's speed this up. Since Liara is dying back in the motherfuckin' tent, Stoner has to play the "girl" part in the final, 28 Days Later rip-off part of the film (i.e., he has to be panicky and generally useless and as a result cause the very situation from which the hero has to rescue him). He and Nerd break into the research facility. They see some blood, leading to the movie's third and last intentionally funny line ("Don't touch it!" "Why the fuck would I touch it?"). Stoner immediately panics and gets them trapped inside. Meanwhile, Jock hears from Main Evil Scientist on his radio that he can help with the cure if Jock comes to the facility, so Jock tries to help Liara to her feet but instead tears all the skin off her arms. I hate it when that happens. He flees alone to the facility and meets up with the others, and they find that all the scientists outside the quarantine zone are blood-puking zombies who want to murder them, because that's just what zombies do. (So, the 3 people closest to No, Mr. Frodo! and quarantined with him weren't infected, and everyone farther away and not quarantined was?**) One of them tries to shoot Stoner, but when he fires his gun, it blows off his hand and sends it rocketing into his own head, killing him. My God, I laughed for a solid minute at that one. I think it's supposed to be funny, but it's still so dumb that I was laughing at the movie rather than with it. The zombie's gun turns his own hand into a deadly projectile, to himself. And where did the bullet go? Anyway, they fight their way through the zombified staff and reach the quarantined area, where Hot Blond Assistant tries to trick them into telling her where their boat is. They're dumb enough to start to tell her, even though her clothes are bloody and she's talking to them through a surgical mask, but then Mangled English Lady Scientist appears and shouts at her to "show them your skin". No, she's not trying to get HBA naked. She just wants her to take off the mask. HBA hems and haws about taking off her mask, and really, what's the point here? Even these two dumbasses have the brainpower to figure out something ain't right since she's being so squirrelly about taking her mask off. But the movie needs a stupid "scare" reveal, so she finally does it and we see that she is now Return of the Living Dead Rip-Off Zombie. Seriously, the make-up fucking blows. The guys act all shocked, but uh, didn't you just fight like a dozen plague zombies? What's so shocking about this one?

Anyway, Rip-Off Zombie escapes and makes for the raft. Just as she reaches it, Liara emerges from the tent, looking less human than she did when she was blue and had scalp crests, ready for her third function in the movie, the *sigh* inevitable cat fight. Since deception went so well for Rip-Off Zombie last time, she tries to bluff her way past Liara, but Liara got her doctorate before she was even 100 years old, so no dice. Rip-Off Zombie then doffs her surgical mask in the traditional "show my scary-ass face" ritual of challenge to estrogen-fueled combat, and the fight to the death between two characters who are both about to die from a horrible flesh-eating virus begins! Liara seems to be getting the better of it, despite not having any skin on her arms and never once hitting Rip-Off with a Singularity, but then Rip-Off hulks up, calls Liara a pureblood bitch, and starts whaling on her, pushing her inside the tent and choking her, even though Rip-Off got puked on by Guy Who Isn't Main Evil Scientist, whose version of the plague the movie earlier said was way more fast-acting, so I don't get why she isn't a hell of a lot weaker than Liara. In fact, given how fast GWIMES died and how much time has passed, I don't know why Rip-Off isn't dead already. But then the movie once again almost, almost redeems itself, as Liara reaches desperately for the giant black dildo that Stoner and Jock gave Nerd as his bachelor party present. I went from shouting, "Goddamn it Liara, put the skinny bitch in Stasis!" to "Yes! Yes, beat her to death with a massive ebony phallus! Do it!" But she doesn't do it. Well, she does, but again, the movie torpedoes itself with Trumpian skill. Instead of the classic "Grab the giant black dong and smack the zombie bitch in the face with it before she chokes you to death or you die of blood-puke syndrome" (man, if I had a dollar for every time I've seen that old gambit), she just gives up reaching for the dildo and instead grabs Rip-Off's elbows and breaks her forearms in half. Okay, how did Liara know she could do that? And how can Rip-Off exert enough force to choke a bitch when her bones are so brittle they break in half when Liara squeezes them? I don't think this movie understands how muscles work. Then Liara gets on top of her and grabs the dildo and beats her to death with it and no, movie, I'm sorry, the moment has passed. You had it, and you blew it. You had me hot and bothered and ready to go down on you, and then your phone rang and you fucking stopped to answer it, leaving me to just put my clothes back on and leave. Nope, too late, you have to beat a zombie bitch to death with a huge rubber phallus as soon as you get the chance. No trying to go back to it later.

Then of course Liara immediately dies. Goddamn this movie.

Blah blah, only No, Mr. Frodo!, Nerd, and Mangled English survive and get back to the ferry. Why yes, there is a slow-motion shot of them walking away from the facility as it explodes, thank you for asking! But the movie keeps going, so you know some kind of stupid fuck-you-to-the-audience twist is coming. Sure enough, No, Mr. Frodo! brings Nerd and Mangled English two bottles of water, which they immediately start swigging from. Now I know blood-born pathogens aren't easily transmitted, and people who suffer from them already face a stigma because of people's fear of disease and abject ignorance of even the most basic science, but really, given what these two have been through, I think it's reasonable for them to refuse to chug down something handed to them by Mr. I Started the Whole Blood-Puking Death Plague. But they gulp it down without a second thought just so Mangled English can intuit No, Mr. Frodo!'s betrayal, and we now see the water is tinted red, which it clearly wasn't in the earlier shots. Oh, and No, Mr. Frodo! just pistol-murders the ferry pilot instead of infecting him too because, um....The film leaves Nerd's state ambiguous, pointedly not revealing whether he has a rash or not. But my money's on he's dead, since he doesn't appear in Cabin Fever and oh yeah the disease kills everyone except hobbits. And no, there's absolutely no indication at any point in the film of why No, Mr. Frodo! murders everybody in the end. He was angry because he was locked up by the scientists and his wife and son are dead, yes, but Nerd wasn't even involved in any of that except to break him out of the facility, and Mangled English was the only one in the facility who gave a damn about him and tried to help him. No Mr. Frodo! specifically told her that her "compassion makes [her] different from the others". Not different enough for him not to murder her, I guess.

And you know what? There's not a single cabin anywhere in this movie.

Cabin Fever: Patient Zero, get back in the motherfuckin' tent!

* Yeah, it got limited release in theaters, but "limited release" for a flick like this is code for "dump it somewhere cheap and dirty so we can technically say it wasn't direct-to-video". Sorry, hack filmmakers, but Carl Eusebius is not bound by The Man's technicalities. This movie doesn't deserve to be screened alongside such worthies as Transformers: Oh God Another One and Rise of the Dawn of the Day of the Conquest of the Planet of the Apes.

** Hot Blond Assistant infected a lab mouse with the virus as part of the experiments (I guess?) but then dropped it on the floor, so it escaped quarantine and infected the people outside. (Yes, she was holding the thing in her hand, and while it was awake, yet.) And she doesn't even tell anybody about it! Whoops, death-mouse got away, oh well. That's how Mangled English figures out the big twist. When Nerd tells her that the people outside traced their infection to a mouse, she remembers that No, Mr. Frodo! sang "Three Blind Mice" at her one time when he was raving about being experimented on. But, but...No, Mr. Frodo! had nothing to do with the mouse escaping! He couldn't even have seen it happen, since it was him being shocked by cattle prods that startled HBA into dropping the mouse in the first place. And Mangled English knows that, because she was standing right next to her. Stupid movie.