I am a big fan of Eli Roth’s Cabin Fever. It’s a great, zoomed-in film about a spreading plague in it’s earliest stages and how a small group of people deal with it. As you might expect, being such a fan, I was looking forward to seeing this straight-to-DVD sequel, though I wasn’t really hoping for much of anything, even though the original ended with such great possibility for a sequel that would really raise the stakes.
Instead, we get a slightly bigger setting, a younger cast of characters to see succumb to the ever-spreading skin disease that inevitably leads to death and a few characters from the original (where was Rider Strong in this thing?). The movie picks up right where the last one left off, we even get to see the fate of one of the characters from the previous flick and what exactly happens to that truck full of infected water (apparently it only went to a high school which just so happens to be having prom). So instead of getting a huge, widespread story of infected bottled water, things just get slightly upgraded in scope which is kind of a dissapointment. Though, once again, the ending implies more impending doom and another sequel.
Also disappointing is the fact that the flick feels A LOT like the far superior Dance Of The Dead with its prom setting, plot focusing on a geeky guy getting the girl of his dreams and a ton of crazy shit happening with happenstance making sure the leads don’t succumb to badness for a period of time.
I will give the movie credit for this, though, they do a good job of continuing from the original movie while also carving their own niche. This isn’t like seeing a Friday The 13th sequel where yet another group of campers are being chased by Jason. In fact, considering there’s not much of an actual villain this time around, the movie feels kind of plotless. Yeah, the main kid and the girl are trying to help his friend and avoid the disease which was spread through the punch at the dance, but it’s not until some nameless guys in SUVs with bright lights and guns show up that they actually have someone to run away from. In the original, the virus was a bad guy, as were the friends as they became more and more worried about their own survival and less likely to help their friends.
The casting department also did a bang-up job. Noah Segan carries the movie as our lovable loser who doesn’t come across as an ubergeek and does a good job of giving the right people the right amount of shit. His friend is played spectacularly by Rusty Kelley who expertly walks that thin tightrope of overbearing fat friend that Jonah Hill sometimes stumbles with in movies like Superbad and the fat kid on RJ Berger completely fails at. Kelley’s dissatisfied and mouthy without demanding a facepunch every time he opens his mouth. The special effects should also get their due props because the sores look pretty gross as do other effects.
In the end though, the movie just feels kind of pointless, like it could have been a news report in a bigger and better sequel (“After some trouble in the woods and an outbreak at a local high school, the skin disease spread to the wider public, causing a pandemic.”) Sure we get more screen time for the cop from the original (assisted by Judah Friedlander and Mark Borchardt of American Movie fame at various points in the film) but the whole movie feels like a lot of build up with no release. There’s no real ending to the cop’s story nor does he really do anything in his investigation of the tainted water. Then there’s our lead who goes to great lengths to Ash himself up for the finale only to get tackled and never seen again at the end in favor or an animated sequence about how much further the virus has spread thanks to a stripper who gave a kid a blowjob in the bathroom at school(?!).
It’s pretty telling that Ti West (who also directed the, in my opinion, lackluster House Of The Devil) asked to have his name taken off this movie because of too much editing and executive involvement on Lionsgate’s part, yet they kept it on because he wasn’t in the Director’s Guild (according to the IMDb trivia page for the movie). I’d probably check out a director’s cut of the movie if one ever came out, but I’d give it a little time because, while the movie was okay, there weren’t many hints of a better movie in there that I wanted to see. I’d rather watch Dance Of The Dead or a bigger and better sequel, though that doesn’t seem likely.