Twitter Plot Summary: We go back to the very beginning and find out what exactly caused the skin eating virus to reach the mainland. Mostly pointless.
Prequels seem to be a necessary evil in this day and age, even if they are provided out of sequence with the previous films. Such is the case here, the third entry in the Cabin Fever series and an almost unnecessary look back to the events that led to the skin eating virus making its way to that cabin in the woods in Eli Roth’s series opener. As is always the case, a group of youngsters (teens/early 20s, you know the drill) arrive on the island and are inadvertently infected with the virus.
The skin melting aspects of the virus are given centre stage here as the youngsters fall victim to its effects. One scene in particular, where an amorous couple do the business, is especially gnarly. But as is often the case, it’s difficult to empathise with them as they’re never painted as being anything more than self-centred youth. By all means give them personal issues because otherwise they would be nothing more than a cardboard box flouncing around the place, but don’t make them all horrible people. There should be at least one person who fits the role as unwilling participant, someone who has done nothing wrong besides being in the wrong place at the wrong time. There’s none of that here.
Other than occasional moments of some extremely good violence and gore, the only other point worthy of note is the presence of Sean Astin as the titular Patient Zero. He has the virus but is immune to its effects. Unfortunately for him he’s being kept captive by some scientists in a remote lab on a tropical island as they try and work on a vaccine. He appears to have been directed to alternate between looking bored or looking slightly angry. Either way, it doesn’t make for a great character. Much like the fate of everyone else in this particular tale, it’s hard to care what happens to him. In this respect it’s a simple waste of Astin’s talents.
Director Kaare Andrews tries to add intrigue to the narrative by throwing in a flashback sequence right at the very end to explain how the virus manages to get out of the laboratory, but this is one brief moment in a film that is mostly filler. Perhaps most damning of all, it can’t even claim to be all that scary. The bloodier moments are unpleasant to look at, but it’s hardly something that will fill you with fear.
It appears that a further prequel was intended to follow this one, which might explain why the key plot strand – how the virus reaches mainland America – is left hanging without resolution. The aim of a prequel is to link into events in the first, which in some instances works (The Thing) but in this case does not. Why do two prequels anyway? It’s rather wide of the mark and taints Roth’s original twist on the cabin in the woods motif by association alone. At least that one had a sense of humour in its favour.