Sunday 16 November 2014

15 Second Review: Cabin Fever 3: Patient Zero

I'll get straight to the punchline: Cabin Fever 3 is entertaining, but largely forgettable. There are two major drawbacks here. The first is fundamental: the plot and situations fail to rise above mediocrity. There is nothing new (or all that interesting) going on in the story and some of the set-pieces felt as if they had been lifted from the previous movies. Second, the approach to sex would benefit from some major revisions. For instance, one female protagonist (Penny) is veritably ogled until she contracts the flesh-eating virus. The now very tired joke is that her (conventional) beauty is severely undercut by her later state of decay: that is, a "male gaze" is established so that the leering audience can be 'shocked' by the inversion of her beauty. The central problem is that in both scenarios, Penny is treated as a "piece of meat", since the joke hinges on that connection. A more adept scriptwriter could make something of that inversion, but here the enterprise comes across as crass. Still, there are a number of pluses here. The narrative does not outstay its welcome and moves at an appropriate pace. The performances are good (certainly good enough for the movie's purposes). The practical effects work well, and the film is gory enough to satisfy most horror fans. What is more, I really enjoyed the opening and closing credit sequences, which hinted towards a distinctive directorial voice that was (unfortunately) missing from the rest of the film. Best of all, Cabin Fever 3 was a much better film than the previous sequel, giving me hope that Cabin Fever 4 might really hit the mark... if the filmmakers can adopt more mature attitudes towards sex, characterization, and storytelling.

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