I thought I had seen it all in horror movies and then I laid eyes on Cabin Fever: Patient Zero; the third film in the cult horror franchise that proved I was dead wrong. On May 29, 2014, Raven Banner Entertainment and Anchor Bay Canada unveiled the film as part of the Sinister Cinema theatre program in 29 different Canadian locations across the country and I had the distinct fortune of attending the exclusive screening in Toronto at Dundas Square.
What made this screening unique was the attendance of the film’s director, a man who cut his teeth in the world of comic books and is now carving a corner in the horror genre as a film maker. Kaare Andrews is a writer and artist who has done a significant amount of work for Marvel Comics and has created a lot of iconic imagery over the years, from Wolverine to the Incredible Hulk and a certain web-head (a particular cover of his was used as inspiration for the ‘kissing scene’ in 2002’s Spider-Man film).
And while he still stays true to his comic book roots, Kaare’s other passion for movies has come calling in a big way. After making a number of short films, Kaare scored his first feature directing gig for Altitude in 2010, a horror/thriller in the skies that found a plane squaring off against a supernatural force. Fast forward four years later and Kaare now finds himself behind the wheel of a known and relatively successful horror series that began with Eli Roth’s 2002 effort about a flesh-eating disease that runs rampant among five college friends.
A sequel known as Cabin Fever: Spring Fever that found a high-school plagued by a similar infection was released in 2009, but was met with a lacklustre reaction among fans. With Cabin Fever: Patient Zero, Kaare Andrews attempts to bring the series back to squeamish credibility with a gory and horrific story that finds a bachelor party stumbling upon an infection facility on a remote island. It doesn’t take much to think what happens next, but Patient Zero certainly has some bloody and audacious surprises in store for fans.
Before the screening, I had the pleasure of sitting down with Kaare Andrews for an interview during his whirlwind promotional appearances leading up to the screening, in which the director openly shared his thoughts on his passions; from comic books to movies and of course Cabin Fever: Patient Zero exclusively for Examiner:
So Karee, tell me, what enticed you to become involved in the ‘Cabin Fever’ series and motivated you to put your own directorial stamp on it?
– “Well I had seen the first movie with my then girlfriend, now wife back in the day and I really liked it! It was a unique blend of sex comedy and horror, it was the little movie that could and they did it for very little money, then it achieved a lot of success by making noise in the horror genre. So it was remembered fondly, then I was sent the script for Patient Zero by my agent and after reading it, I thought it was interesting so I had a conversation with the producer Evan Astrwosky (who had been a producer on the original film) and gave him my take, so he offered me the job!”
So before viewers see it, should they consider the film a prequel, sequel or a stand-alone in the series?
– It`s kind of a stand-alone. There`s no character crossover, no plot crossover and it was shot in the Dominican Republic, so you can`t place it in timeline. I see it as a concurrent exploration of that same virus, that`s how I look at it anyway, that while Patient Zero is playing out the kids from the first movie are melting away in the woods while ours are melting away on the island.
What were some of the advantages and difficulties of shooting the film in the Dominican Republic?
– “We kind of had to shoot in the Dominican because the money to make the movie came from a banking conglomerate located there that just got into film production and the people were tremendous, the locales, the scenery and textures of shooting in a foreign country was really visually compelling. We had a lot of fun there. Challenge wise, our first day of shooting we were outdoors in the middle of the night and Hurricane Sandy flew through the island. We had constructed ten rain towers for the opening sequence, because I wanted rain, but I got a hurricane and after we tried to turn them on in addition to the storm, we flooded an entire town. We shot through tarantulas and toxic mold, plus I had my first handgun pulled on me after our driver got into a fender bender. One of our locations was a cave which had been in the 1980`s an underground club, then it was abandoned and left to rot so when we got there we had to clean out a ton of toxic waste to make it safe and in doing so, the owners said to themselves – we should make this a club again!”
So tell me what it was like to work with a bonafide ‘Goonie’ (actor Sean Astin) in Patient Zero?
– “Sean Astin was awesome. He is a ball of energy, showing up on set and helping every department. Sean really wanted to do a horror movie, but he also enjoys doing lower-budgeted movies because he immerses himself in a way that you can’t in a big blockbuster machine because you are only a part of the process. But in a scrappy little movie like us, it’s fun to have him in the mix doing crazy stuff. On one of the days off he stole a bunch of the crew, shot a short film then showed for work the next day. He’s a very passionate guy and great to have around. I think he gives one of the strongest performances in our movie, being the skilled actor he is and having such a natural presence. He’s been doing this since he was eight, so he knows how the machine works.”
What movies, past or present were influences on your style as a director?
– “My favourite movie of all-time is James Cameron’s Aliens and second favourite The Terminator. I think any movie with visual and visceral appeal is an influence, like works by Ridley Scott, Darren Aronofsky, David Fincher and Martin Scorsese. I really respond to that kind of film-making, where there is as much effort and control put into what a viewer sees as there is to the acting performances or the story.”
You’ve told stories now in two different mediums; comic books and feature films. Do you find you have a personal preference of one over the other?
– “No, because with comic books you will find yourself alone in a room for days on end. It’s a very insular, isolated, introverted art-making process. Film directing is you leading a team of roughly one-hundred people and everyday is a collaboration, conversation, compromise and negotiation, so it’s an entirely different process. I will say that I am more established as a comic book creator, so I am allowed to do things there that I haven’t been given the keys to do yet in film creatively. So I can take more creative ownership of my comic books than I can my films at this point in my career. But I love them both. So people ask me – when you get to be a big movie director, would you ever leave comics? – and I say no, because its a different medium. I love owning every mistake I make and celebrating every success, but in film it’s a collaboration and you have to wear other people’s mistakes and successes. It’s a strange situation. David Fincher (director of Se7en) says it best, that directing is like being the quarterback of a football team. When the team wins you get too much credit and when they lose you get too much blame.”
So is the horror genre your comfort zone as a director or do you have any interest in pursuing others?
– “I love all genre movies. I grew up loving science-fiction so I am developing some sci-fi action projects. Anything visual or visceral is what I like to get my hands on. The cool thing about horror is that it can exist successfully at very low budgets. The audience will embrace and forgive some of the budgetary limitations that they might not on a slick action movie. It’s great and rewarding to work with visceral elements as well, like practical special-effect make-ups.”
With that said, you have ties to both industries, would you ever considering directing a superhero project?
– “Sure. If it was the right project. I am writing and drawing a comic book right now called “Iron Fist: The Living Weapon”, which is actually scheduled to be a Netflix series, so that will be interesting to see how that works out. In a perfect world, I would be directing my own superhero comic book, but I have a deep love for all the characters I have worked on. If creatively the right decision came up, it would be fun to do because I know it so well. There are things I would love to try and do on film that I haven’t seen done before, like comic book techniques directly transcribed to film. I am hoping to do that sort of thing on a future project.”
Lastly, what do you hope viewers will experience and take away from ‘Cabin Fever: Patient Zero’?
– “I hope they will experience a gory terror and a blood-soaked nightmare. If they can take away a fun time with some crazy stuff they have never seen before, then it will be worth checking out.”
Kaare, thank you for taking the time to speak with us and congratulations on the film and all your successes…
– “You are welcome and thank you very much, I hope you enjoy the screening tonight.”