Cabin Fever 2: Spring Fever (2009)
Directed by Ti West
Written by Ti West, Randy Pearlstein, Joshua Malkin
Produced by Mike Crawford, Josef Lieck, Patrick Durham, Jonathan Sachar, Lauren Vilchik, Mary Aloe, Deborah Davis, Sam Froelich, Dan Griffin, Chandler Foster, Jason Hewitt, Susan Jackson, Jerry Kroll, Corey Large, Tre Lovell, Christopher Rutter, Maxwell Sinovoi, Alan Pao, Kyle Dean Jackson
Starring Noah Segan, Rusty Kelley, Alexi Wasser, Giuseppe Andrews, Marc Senter, Mark Borchardt, Michael Bowen, Judah Friedlander, Amanda Jelks, Thomas Blake Jr., Angela Brown, Taylor Kowalski, Alexander Isaiah Thomas, Michael L. Nesbitt, Lindsey Axelsson, Lila Lucchetti, Caitlin Coons, Andrea Powell, Regan Deal, Gabrielle Tuite
To prom, or not to prom? That is The Question for a brainy senior (Segan) who’s for years yearned for a schoolfriend (Wasser), despite intimidation by her scummily abusive boyfriend (Senter). Whether or not he attends with his podgy best friend (Kelley), The Question is belittled by the virulent spread of that ravenous necrotizing fasciitis, which contaminates a bottled batch from a lousy, local brand of water delivered to his school. Sloppily sanguine, suppurating, sphacelating symptoms catch every student who cuts a rug on the dance floor by surprise — as does the arrival of a heavily armed, gumbooted hazmat team intent on quarantining the school with lethal force.
Not until his overestimated, oversold X would West attempt anything quite this sleazy again, but it’s his funniest flick: with Pearlstein and screenwriter Malkin, he farced these ribald, repulsive developments with enough immature one-liners to hit the mark more often than not.
Incongruities between surpassing spectacles shot by a directing auteur, and prosaic footage canned after his dismission at the behest of a peeved producer are as glaring now in certain genre pictures as they were in the heyday of Old Hollywood. Even in his worst offerings, West flaunts his grandmastery of the camera’s creep by zoom lens, dolly, and Steadicam; his establishing and perspective shots here catch the eye and prefigure his idiomatic apogee, twice consummated in following years. It clashes with shots ineptly set and staged by whoever was hired to hack out another reel’s worth for post-producers Pao and Jackson.
Moreover, Janice Hampton’s shamefully slapdash theatrical cut hardly reflects her score of experience, and baffles in light of West’s editorial aptitude. Lionsgate’s productional parasites probably would’ve saved time and money for a better product if they’d accommodated Glass Eye’s wunderkind with carte blanche. Instead, their messy patchwork was shelved for nearly two years between production and release.
Playing the straight man to chubbily waggish Kelley, Segan (who resembled Elon Musk before he grew into his looks) lends personality to an embattled dweeb, but his BFF enjoys the lion’s share of zingers. In a subplot where he investigates the epidemic, covers his tracks, and absquatulates with his like-minded cousin (Borchardt), Andrews is actually more laughable as the nasally Rabelaisian police deputy than he was in Eli Roth’s horror. Everyone else is cast condignly as caricatures: crudely handsome Senter energizes his bully frenziedly; Axelsson screeches the whinily egomaniacal prom queen’s protest against attention paid to others; Bowen looks as dense as his principal acts. As so often before and since, West’s mentor Larry Fessenden appears in a fatally spraying cameo as the plague’s first public victim.
Half of Ryan Shore’s score sounds like Angelo Badalamenti’s themes for Fire Walk with Me; the other half blends orchestral samples and sequenced percussion as tackily as those of any other composed in Hollywood. Just as Patrick Hernandez’s Eurodisco hit Born To Be Alive is better than the preparatory montage that it accompanies, Prom Night‘s disco song Tonight It’s Prom Night, All Night is utilized to greater effect here than in the shlock for which Paul Zaza and Carl Zitter wrote it. Tracks by Sparks, Sarah Burton, Alex T. and Bob Stone are acceptable, but torturously unfunny Minimal Compact’s Inner Station — which still sounds like the worst collaboration between David Bowie and the Deal sisters that thankfully never happened — is a great reason to mute the end credits.
- Contiguous from Cabin Fever‘s conclusion, the deteriorating vacationer played by Rider Strong (who’s unexplainably top-billed) finds his way from a fouled river through forest to a highway, where he’s splattered by a school bus.
- Quantum Creation FX’s practical prosthetic and makeup effects revoltingly realize mortified losses of teeth, fingernails, flesh, digits, etc.
- Prom king Blake wins a wager with friends by popping obese Jelks’s cherry in the school’s pool, and its waters run red for her necrosis and his misstep.
- Before and after the virus imbrues the auditorium where it’s held from hundreds of orifices, the prom itself is pretty lively.
- Furious after an umpteenth injustice, Segan’s geek castigates Wasser’s objet d’amour for both her devotion to a crazed, cheating cad, and oblivion of his affection for her — a tirade to which any outsider who’s ever been taken with That Girl can relate.
- An impromptu amputation and cauterization are performed in wood shop with surprising ease!
- Music muffles speech oftentimes in this movie’s horribly mixed soundtrack.
- For viewers who’ve an ape’s attention span, a montage of shots from both movies illustrates how Andrews’s deputy connects the dots.
- Mildly amusing animated segments and overlong credits pad a runtime that should be ten minutes shorter.
West’s sequel has so much to love — raunch, sticky gore, ’70s flavor, pitch-black comicality — but it’s still a shambles more deserving of a director’s cut than most degraded in post-production. Despite his disavowal of this project, it’s still more entertaining than anything he’s done in the past decade.
Recommended for a double feature paired with Cabin Fever or Thank God it’s Friday.