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Makeup Effects are the Real Star in the Gory Cabin Fever: Patient Zero

Smoking kills. So do flesh-eating viruses.
Smoking kills. So do flesh-eating viruses.

For peek-between-the-fingers moments, it's hard to top a sex scene lubricated by the revolting promise of a flesh — eating virus.

Cabin Fever: Patient Zero-the third installment and prequel of the series that began with Eli Roth's 2002 woodland gorefest — delivers its share of anticipated gross-outs, which director Kaare Andrews presents with a sly, often lipless, grin.

The fun begins as four old friends charter a boat to drop them off for a bachelor-party trip to a remote Caribbean island, supposedly deserted. Unfortunately, the north side of the island is home to a secret disease-research facility, currently under quarantine, thanks to Porter (Sean Astin), an unaffected carrier of a deadly virus, who's dead set on escaping. (Symptoms include jellied flesh sloughing off the bone; manic desperation; vomiting forceful gouts of blood.)

Poisoned by snorkeling in contaminated water, the revelers start heading toward the lab for help. It takes the two groups a little too long to meet — the film sags as characters wander through a maze of underground corridors — but patience is rewarded by a terrific gag with a handgun and a catfight that plays like a long-lost Tom Savini-directed episode of Dynasty.

Vincent Guastini's makeup effects are the star here, a refreshing change from the inky CGI morphing of too much modern horror.

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