RATING |

Nicely timed to cash in on the Ebola panic, Cabin Fever: Patient Zero - the prequel to the gross-out franchise about a lethal flesh-eating virus and its party-hardy victims - isn't going to do much for the tourism trade in the Dominican Republic.

Actually, the seriously icky business in Kaare Andrews' generic genre pic is set on a small island not far from the DR, where three guys and a girl have gone for a bachelor party getaway. But after snorkeling in some suspect surf, the girl (a bikinied Jillian Murray) starts feeling sick, and her jocky beau (Brando Eaton) consoles her the only way he knows how. And then he's not feeling so well, either.

Luckily, the foursome's distress call ("We have an outbreak, like rashes, hives, bleeding!") is answered by a doctor who just happens to be operating a lab on the very same remote Caribbean isle.

This Dr. Edwards (Currie Graham) is working hard on a vaccine for the malady the partiers may have contracted. He is also working hard at being the least ethical medical researcher alive. And he happens to have a patient - "a sample" - carrying the virus. The patient is played by a sad, bearded Sean Astin.

The original Cabin Fever (2002) marked Eli Roth's directing debut. Cabin Fever 2: Spring Fever (2009) was the work of Ti West. Both are now highly credentialed in the horror/gore camp. Andrews, a comic-book artist with The Hulk, X-Men, and Spider-Man on his resumé, made his first feature, Altitude, about five friends on an ill-fated plane ride, in 2010. Now, he has the sound-effects-heavy, blood-vomiting franchise title to add to his credits. It's pandemic time!

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