Judge Gordon Sullivan's cabin fever got worse while watching this...horror.
This time it's spreading.
Horror fans are pretty used to unnecessary sequels. The entire genre of horror seems to exist to put studios in the black, so it's no surprise that dollar signs flash in their eyes when a horror flick with any sequel potential at all does well, especially on video. Since the motivation for sequels is almost always greed, it doesn't say much about a sequel that languishes on the shelf for several years before being dumped straight to video. Such is the case with Cabin Fever 2: Spring Fever, the barely-connected-to-the-first-film sequel to Eli Roth's breakthrough Cabin Fever. After viewing the film, I can honestly say that it should have stayed on the shelf.
The film opens with Paul (Rider Strong from the first film) intent on warning people about the dangers in the water. Naturally that doesn't end well for him, and it's obvious that the local water bottling plant is going be distributing tainted water to the nearby town. Of course this is going to happen on the same night as the prom, when a bunch of stupid, horny teenagers will converge on the local high school to consume punch made from the local water supply. It's a recipe for gore galore at the prom.
Cabin Fever 2 fails because it manages to completely abandon everything that made the first film good. Let's break it down:
• Cabin Fever was a focused, claustrophobic film where most of the plot was restricted to the cabin and the surrounding woods with no real possibility of help from the outside. Cabin Fever 2 takes place in the entire small town, with scenes in the high school, the streets, and students' homes. Gone is the tension of being isolate, and gone is the feeling that there's no help from outside since a huge subplot involves Winston from the first film trying to call in the cavelry. There's no paranoia about who might or might-not get infected, so the creepiness of the disease has been completely eradicated.
• Cabin Fever was over-the-top funny with its plot and gore, letting the humor rise out of the desperation of the situation. Cabin Fever 2 elects to go for the cheap laughs, like having a geeky young man receive oral sex from a girl with braces, after which she spits out a torrent of white fluid. Rather than being actually funny (like the first film), Spring Fever tries to be funny with lame body humor and tired jokes.
• Cabin Fever was pretty well acted, with strong performances by Rider Strong, Jordan Ladd, and Joey Kern. Cabin Fever 2 can't make any such claim. Aside from Guiseppe Andrews (who is an acquired taste) and the brief appearance by Rider Strong, the acting here is just lame. We have stereotypical teens running around doing stereotypical things like pining for the pretty girl, or being a jock. I don't entirely blame the actors since the script was probably written on a pizza box, but the acting on display here is a serious letdown after the first film.
• Cabin Fever had good gore. Here's where Cabin Fever 2 almost stacks up, but with one huge caveat. Cabin Fever did its best to present fairly realistic gore in a flesh-eating-virus kind of way. Spring Fever goes the opposite route, with huge sprays of blood, goofy looking prosthetic penis gags, and plenty of icky moments. For those into the more slapstick gore tradition there are some good moments in the film, but it's not the kind of realistic gore that Cabin Fever excelled at.
• Cabin Fever had an excellent DVD release that looked good and contained a lot of extras. Cabin Fever 2 is a technically flawed release with few extras. It starts with the transfer, which is supposed to be 2.35:1, but looks more like an improperly stretched 2.40:1 image. That means everyone looks a bit taller and thinner than they should. I can't say for certain it's a screw up, but it doesn't look natural or intentional. The 5.1 track is okay, but there isn't much for the surrounds to do. Extras include a brief (13 minutes) making-of that suffers from a lack of directorial input (director Ti West tried to have his name taken off the film) and a 3-minute gore reel some fans might find interesting.
This DVD is a crappy presentation of a crappy film that isn't really worth anyone's time. By ignoring everything that made the first film great, Spring Fever can only muster some over-the-top gore in its favor. Add that to the poor transfer and it's hard to even recommend a rental for fans of cheesy horror.
You'd have to have a fever to enjoy Cabin Fever 2: Spring Fever. Guilty.
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