The Film: Cabin Fever 2: Spring Fever (2009)

The Principals:
Starring: Noah Segan, Rusty Kelley, Alexi Wasser, Giuseppe Andrews.
Written: Joshua Malkin, Randy Pearlstein, Ti West.
Directed: Ti West.

The Premise: We pick up moments after the end of the Cabin Fever. Turns out that the creek that Paul (Rider Strong) was left in is the source for a bottled water factory, which of course means that the factory is now bottling infected water. When the trucks leave to distribute the bottled water, the virus is effectively passed from a classic cabin-in-the-woods horror movie setting to a classic 80’s teen sex comedy setting. The sex comedy setting involves a typically too grounded for his age nerd, John (Noah Segan), his typically talkative horny best friend, Alex (Rusty Kelley), his typically platonic female best-friend that he secretly harbors a typically pining love for, Cassie (Alexi Wasser), and Cassie’s typically bullying agro boyfriend, Marc (Marc Senter). Typical prom looms. Infection happens!

Is It Good: Yes and no. While Cabin Fever 2 is certainly not a shining star of the genre, for a film that was shelved for two years and has been completely disowned by its director, it is surprisingly fun. The film has its problems — it lacks both a solid through-line and characters you give a crap about. But, basically, it has two big things going for it:

1) It is novel.

As someone who wasn’t a huge fan of the original Cabin Fever, I enjoyed how left-field CF2‘s take is. Sure, it joins the ranks of sequels like Police Academy 2, in which the title no longer makes any goddamn sense, but did anyone really want to see a movie about another group of jackasses getting infected at a remote cabin? On top of that, I dig slapping two conventional things together to create something unconventional. It is an easy gimmick, but it can yield interesting results, especially when things are treated seriously. Cabin Fever 2 isn’t a serious movie, but I respect how seriously Ti West embraces the teen sex comedy angle without dipping into parody. If you remove all the goo and gore from the film, you would still be left with an entirely believable teen sex comedy. An uber-generic and terrible teen sex comedy, yes, but that I think is part of the fun. Much as Gremlins mined gold from taking a saccharin Xmas movie and tossing in a horde of tiny monsters, the entire appeal of CF2 (for me at least) was somewhat fulfilling the secret desire I always have when sitting through some blah teen rom-com — which is that something would start killing them all, and fast.

I don’t know what to make of Ti West disowning the movie, given that I’m not sure which sequences and scenes were re-edited and re-shot, and even if I did, I have no idea what they were like originally. More often then not, siding with writers and directors who get into a beef with higher powers that alter their vision makes sense, but… I’ve also seen The House of the Devil and The Roost. I appreciated the unabashed artistic vision West employed in those films, but they also bored the ever loving shit out of me. Point being, I can easily imagine West having turned in something extremely slow and light on gore. I’d be very curious to see his cut though.

2) Speaking of gore — the movie is disgusting.

I’m not a gorehound. As far as I’m concerned a good horror movie doesn’t need any gore. Hell, it doesn’t even need death if it can deliver on other levels. No horror movie is going to get an A from me based solely on its kills. But it can sure as hell get an easy B- if it plays its cards right. I’m not looking for a horror movie to gross me out, but I’m generally impressed on some level whenever a movie can make me squirm or look away, without resorting to prolonged torture or rape scenes. CF2 is quite gross, most of it involving Alex (a scene of him trying to re-attach his fingernail is particularly genius). I have a hard time congratulating a movie for featuring a moment when a girl spits a mouthful of semen into a sink for no reason – that is cheap exploitation shit right there – but I have to at least tip my hat to any moment I’m not soon to forget. I also didn’t appreciate the fact that the movie was so gross that it cockblocked me, souring the sexy mood my lady friend was in (true story), but once again, gotta tip my hat to that — she’s watched plenty of horror movies with me before and it has never been a problem. That would be my pull-quote for the poster: “So gross I didn’t get laid!”

Is It Worth A Look: This movie reminded a bit of Wrong Turn 2, in the sense that it was a sequel to a movie I didn’t much give a shit about, and I watched it only because I’m a horror junkie and will watch almost any notable bullshit the genre has to offer (cause let’s be realistic, bullshit is mostly what the genre has to offer). And I was surprised to find something unique. At the end of the day uniqueness can often trump quality issues for me. I’m not sure diehard fans of Cabin Fever would necessarily appreciate the teen sex comedy A-plot, but I also imagine the diehard fans of CF have already seen and judged this film accordingly. For horror fans who stayed away from CF2 because they didn’t like the first film, or because of the Ti West controversy, I say give it a shot. It is on Instant Watch. Just don’t watch it with someone you hope to sex up afterwards.

Random Anecdote: Ti West wanted to be credited as Alan Smithee, but because he wasn’t in the Director’s Guild, the producers denied his request.