Cabin Fever: Patient Zero perfunctorily merges the splatter film with the conspiratorial outbreak thriller. Unsurprisingly, several privileged young lambs are offered up to the audience for an inevitable slaughter. Marcus (Mitch Ryan) is marrying into a wealthy family at a posh resort somewhere in the Dominican Republic, and his horny party-animal brother, Josh (Brandon Eaton), and good friend and business partner, Dobbs (Ryan Donowho), insist on taking him to a nearby beach for a belated bachelor party. Tagging along and thankfully breaking up the sausage party is the group’s childhood friend, Penny (Jillian Murray), who has a history with both Marcus and Josh. Blossoming sexual tensions, however, are cut short when their beach destination is revealed to be housing the same virus that rendered mincemeat of most everyone from the previous Cabin Fever movies.
Eli Roth’s Cabin Fever, for all its marinating in boozy poon-hound bacchanalia, was informed by an unusually pensive melancholy that was surprisingly moving. Ti West’s Cabin Fever 2: Spring Fever replaced that poignancy with an outrageous parody of teenage cruelty, but Patient Zero, disappointingly, doesn’t have anything under the textual hood. Director Kaare Andrews devises a couple of pointless and uninvolving slow-motion sequences, but otherwise stages the proceedings in an impersonally shaky-cam manner that’s exasperated by an awkward stop-and-start pace that disastrously alternates between the doomed bachelor party and the evil scientists who’re fiddling with the disease, killing any momentum or sense of mystery in the process. The gore isn’t even memorable. There’s an attempt to top the first film’s leg-shaving scene with a promising cunnilingus gag that’s botched by an uninventive punchline, and there’s a rotting-hottie catfight that’s less gross than distractingly absurd. The rest of the film is comprised of long, repetitive death marches in which the actors gamely wander obvious sets exchanging banal shards of largely irrelevant information. This is less a movie than a dutiful renewal of a recognizable title’s licensing rights.