Cabin Fever 2: Spring Fever (2009) Reviewed

 

Blistered lips that touch prom punch will never touch mine.

Since you asked, I do regret my date with Cabin Fever 2: Spring Fever. Oh sure, when our eyes met, she was all gussied up with enough gore to fill the high school’s multi-purpose room and enough sick silliness to fill a John Waters fever dream. Maybe it could make for a fun night out, I thought at the time. In fact, at first glance you can probably see why I thought I may have stumbled upon a very eligible prom date. “Take a chance on me,” CF2 seemed to say. “I may not be popular, but you have to admit, I’m kinda’ cute,” it continued. Blame She’s All That, but how could I be sure there wasn’t a Rachel Leigh Cook hiding under the paint-spattered overalls? But then…

I remembered my last go-round with this franchise, when CF2‘s older sister, Cabin Fever, offered to take me on a super-fun, gore-crazy, flesh-dissolving camping trip with director Eli Roth. Would you believe that movie had the audacity to abandon me in the woods with not so much as a shrug. I was forced to walk back to civilization which gave me plenty of time to wonder why I’d wasted nearly two hours in the wilderness with a crude asshole of a movie whose campfire stories weren’t scary or surprising, but just kinda’ gross and mean-spirited. Oh, I know it was years ago and yes, I’m mostly over it. And no, I shouldn’t jump to conclusions about a movie just because it’s related to a creep. I mean, who knows? CF2 might have lots to offer as an individual. Like characterization! Or suspense! Or a story! Or boobs! (One out of four ain’t bad…oh wait…yes it is.) Yet, there I was;  sitting on the porch in my rented tux waiting for a movie that finally rolls up in a limo, flashes its titties from the sunroof and drives away laughing at me.

Can your really blame me though for adding this dark horse to my evening’s dance card? Ty West, who directed House of the Devil (really good!) also directed CF2…technically. Then he had his name removed from the movie (really bad!), allegedly because of studio tinkering. (I’d like to mention here that I have a difficult time imagining what kind of “tinkering” results in a final cut like the one I watched. What changes were made to make CF2 more financially viable? And should they have changed more?) We’ll never know for sure but I’m guessing it was West and not the studio whose vision for this project included seeping genitals and a girls room miscarriage?  …aaaand those last seven words should be enough of a litmus test to determine whether a movie like CF2 is something you could (or should) watch.

Though it spends a lot more time than CF1 on the characterization, CF2 is every bit as mean-spirited and gross-for-gross’ sake. I’m a firm believer that being gross can often be a good thing. I’m reminded, for example, of David Cronenberg’s The Fly remake, a (Okay, I’ll say it:) modern classic that presents a great story, respectable acting and well-defined characters before gleefully throwing ladles of yuck all over everything. Think about it: what would The Fly be without Jeff Goldblum’s teeth and fingernails falling out and off? Or the baboon turned inside-out? Or Brundle-Fly puking flesh-melting fly vomit all over John Getz’s hand? CF2 has lots of moments like these, but haphazardly sprays them against the wall like the bloody projectile vomit that shoots from every orifice of its teen cast to see what, if anything, sticks.

Panic at the disco.

Some things, it turns out, DO stick. The chunk-blowing effects in CF2 are nothing if not creative, and I can even get behind the movie’s general premise: The flesh-eating virus that devoured CF1’s handful of unlikable teenagers (including Rider Strong, who makes an early appearance in CF2 to forcibly tie the two movies together and is the closest thing this franchise has to a legitimate “star.”) finds its way into a shipment of bottled water used to make one unfortunate high school’s prom punch. Not a shabby set up for the sequel to a piece of shit! It’s a premise that has great potential because who doesn’t like seeing bad things happen to teenagers? And who doesn’t like watching an inspired shit-finally-hits-the-fan scene? (-like the spring-break feeding frenzy in Piranha 3D…perfect example.) That’s why CF2‘s prom-gone-wrong centerpiece is admirable. There’s something to be said for watching every teen’s “big night” being ruined by a fast-acting skin disease. There’s not enough Proactiv in the world to save these kids. School dances are an 80s-movie staple and CF2‘s  hysteria, screaming, dying, lighting and frantic camera movement seem to indicate a respectful hat-tip to Prom Night and Carrie –and in a good way. Unlike its predecessor which paid horror homage by referencing (and in some cases, strip mining) better movies, CF2 seems to take inspiration from classic moments like Carrie‘s flaming-teenage finale without making you want to kick the director (whomever that may be) in the shins.

Somebody run to the janitor's closet and get the bucket of saw dust. This could take awhile.

Before long it’s made pretty clear that if you attended this prom, you’re fucked. When the authorities put the whole school on lockdown to keep the fast-acting fungus from spreading to another sequel, the teens, in addition to some faculty, the janitor and the school mascot(!) are trapped, inadvertently infecting each other with every dance, drink, kiss and blow job. (You heard me.)  But by locking everyone up about half-way through, the movie rubs out any hope you may have had for clever story or suspense. The second half spends most of its time making its primaries run around the school, trying to figure out what happened, while watching their peers die in all sorts of gruesome ways. That’s fun for a while but it doesn’t take too long before it feels predictable, redundant, and completely ineffective.

Gorehounds will appreciate the full buffet of pus-drenched atrocities but most everyone else will find CF2 a grating and ugly experience. Its comedic tone doesn’t do it any favors either. (Isn’t it totally conceivable that someone like Frank Henenlotter could make a clever “deadly infection” movie with blistered tongue in rotting cheek? I think it is!)  CF2‘s sense of humor is just sort of demented, in your face, and only funny in the “I can’t believe they went there” kind of way. And if you ask me, that gets old fast. You know that sour face you make when a coworker tells you an inappropriately dirty joke at an inappropriate time in an inappropriate place and your brow wrinkles as a crude attempt at a polite smile barely manages to turn up the corners of your mouth? Well, you’ll be making that face a LOT during CF2 — and that’s probably your best case scenario. All others will be spending the night with their head in the toilet with a post-prom hangover or reaching for their Netflix return envelope at the sight of the first peeled-off fingernail.

CF2 is certainly better than CF1, but in the same way that Leprechaun 5: Leprechaun in the Hood is more watchable than Leprechaun. It might be fun for teens hoping to gross out their friends at slumber parties, but watching it alone probably means you’ll be stuck making that sour face until you’re able to scrub some of its nastier moments from your memory. Speaking of nastier moments,  I should thank CF2 for reminding me why the introduction of a pregnant woman in a horror movie is never a good sign.

* 1/2 – one and a half stars out of four

~ by Number5ive on February 4, 2011.

One Response to “Cabin Fever 2: Spring Fever (2009) Reviewed”

  1. […] https://bloglagoon.wordpress.com/2011/02/04/cabin-fever-2-spring-fever-2009-reviewed/ See it?  Lower right.  Ouch! […]

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