Monday, 11 May 2015

Cabin Fever 3: Patient Zero

Unlike many reviewers before me, I actually like Cabin Fever 1 and 2, both in my opinion tapping into the black comedy splatterfest ethos of the likes of Braindead and others of that era (although I'm not elevating them to that kind of status), and perhaps Piranha if you're more familiar with this century's output.  CF2 seems to be particularly maligned by a good portion of those that have seen it, so I thought I'd give this one a go considering it seems to split audiences in the same way.  The plot doesn't need outlining in detail: a research facility on a remote island runs into problems containing the flesh-eating virus (of the earlier movies) that they're attempting to find a cure to.  A bunch of dumb partying teens ('natch) go out to the island (i.e. they won't get a mobile signal) for a stag party only to find themselves dropping victim to the virus one by one (a development that some viewers may be thankful for...).  Has potential perhaps.

From the outset of putting the third outing into your disc tray it's fairly clear that the black comedy madness of the first two films has been almost entirely eschewed by virtual newbie film-makers Andrews and Wall in favour of what they probably believe is a grittier, nasty affair.  My favourite character (the cop) is also lamentably absent.  Sam the hobbit shows up to give it all a bit of credibility, but the teens themselves are unable to give this cash-in anything convincing, as they just appear to be aping the performances of every other dumb-teen actor that you've seen in horror films over the last twenty years or so (unless that's how all American teens naturally are, in which case I forgive them), and the script is just as clich├ęd (I'm trying to remember some examples but the experience is mercifully fading from my mind).  There are some moments of hefty gore if that's what you're after but the few moments of injected humour fall flat, making this entry feel like it doesn't really belong as part of the series.

What truly ruined CF3 for me, however, was the near relentless shaky-cam approach - seriously, this cameraman can barely keep the thing still, and regardless of what's happening on screen and whether it calls for a feeling of seasickness, the image will be waving around like a wet kipper.  Watch this stuff on a projector or large screen like I do and the chances are you'll come out of this movie feeling nauseous for all the wrong reasons.  I'm not sure why this habit with film-makers persists - shaky camerawork does not draw a viewer into the action (and in my case it actually draws me right out, because I'm too conscious of the camera frame itself).  I think bad film-makers use this technique as a tool to cover up their ability to generate genuine tension by any skilful means.  Hence what might have been a 2.5 star film on a generous day becomes in my eyes a 1.5 star film.

The Blu-ray reminds me of the old days collecting films on tape - not because the image/sound is terrible (it isn’t) but rather there is nothing in way of bonus features on the disc.  Zilch.  Although you do get to select chapters.  The 1.78:1 full HD image is very detailed although clearly shot digitally.  Daylight scenes are reasonably nice, with perhaps an unrealistic edge to the colour.  DTS-HD audio has some oomph as might be expected.  If you must watch this, the Blu is the way to go and can be obtained incredibly cheaply anyway.

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