OCTOBER 24, 2009
Shelved for years, disowned by its director, and lacking the involvement of original creator Eli Roth, there wasn’t very much to expect out of Cabin Fever 2: Spring Fever. But damned if it didn’t actually turn out to be a worthy followup, with even more disgusting body part-related deaths, a game cast, and a tone that never veers off into a slightly more serious direction (something that hurt the original a bit).
It’s also the first Ti West film (he can disown it all he wants, but 95% of the film is comprised of his footage; the only re-shoot of significance was the end, which is also the worst part) where his tendency to let things go on forever was kept in check. It still takes a tad long to get crazy, but there are a couple of isolated gags in the first half hour or so to make up for it, and unlike the first film, we actually have a few likable characters this time around (lead hero Noah Segan has one of cinema's all time best "Why do girls like assholes?" rants), so it’s not the end of the world to have to spend time with them as they chat instead of getting virus-y.
And even in these scenes, there is a perverse sense of humor to enjoy. A blow job from a girl with braces and a disgusting growth on her lip; a principal (Michael Bowen!) who lives with a guy that seemingly stepped out Nightmare on Elm St 2, a janitor pissing blood into the punch, etc. Like Human Centipede, the goofy tone of it all allows for even the most disgusting moments to entertain rather than make you sick. And again, the cast gives it their all; there’s a full frontal nude scene (male and female) that would make John Waters proud, culminating in the moment where the vastly overweight female member of the pair loses her tooth during a makeout session.
The soundtrack is terrific (something even Roth reportedly claimed). I can’t help but love the idea of a prom playing Paul Zaza’s theme song from Prom Night, and the other tracks from the prom and surrounding scenes are quite enjoyable as well. Lionsgate should pack a copy with the DVD and charge an extra couple bucks; I guarantee no one would mind the extra cost as soon as they pop in the disc.
I also like that it continues the spread of the virus without feeling like a remake, as many sequels do. No one goes back to the woods; instead the bulk of the film takes place at the school, with only the (surprisingly few) Deputy Winston scenes occurring elsewhere, as he tries to figure out what is happening, and once he does, tries to escape with his cousin Herman. I would have liked for his storyline to mesh with the main one a bit sooner (i.e. at any point before what should be the final goddamn shot of the film) but it’s still nice to have him around again, and Giuseppe Andrews steps back in the role easily.
As I said, the ending is the only real problem. Winston and the lone survivor of the A story just drive off, and while it is abrupt it still would have been better than having another 5-10 minutes, where we see what happened to a minor character from the beginning of the film. This sequence (which features jarringly pointless cameos from the film’s executive producers) goes on too long, serves no real purpose, and generally sucks, and I wasn’t surprised to learn later that this was the stuff that was shot without Ti West. My only theory that it’s in there at all is for the producers to stroke their egos, otherwise I would guess anyone with half a brain would end it with Winston driving off, trading an abrupt ending for a draggy, terrible one.
I hear the DVD is coming out in February, which is fine. I’d hate to see the film become even more compromised than it already is in order to get an R rating (though, given the goofy tone, it might not be an issue with the MPAA - sometimes they ‘get it’ when it comes to such things), and despite its relative quality, I think it would be a major dud in theaters (especially since the release of the first film was now over six years ago). It’s a shame that various shenanigans have kept the film buried for so long, but at least it’s finally seeing the light, and the DTV release, I think, will be beneficial in the long run thanks to its inherent lowered expectations and far less worrisome competition.
What say you?