Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

In the spirit of ‘The Blair Witch Project’, which tragically I must admit I’ve never seen, and ‘Cloverfield’ which gets my vote as one of the best movies of 2008 comes ‘Quarantine’ from director John Erick Dowdle. Since we’re referencing those previous films, ‘Quarantine’ is obviously told from a first person hand held shaky camera perspective, and though this was ultimately a very solid horror movie in my opinion, over the course of time that damn shaky camera was getting on my freaking nerves.

Somewhere in Los Angeles super cute television reporter Angel Vidal (Jennifer Carpenter) is doing one those hard hitting news stories about the hot guys of the fire department or something and along with her trusty cameraman Scott (Steve Harris), they get down to asking the hard hitting questions. Actually they’re just waiting around for a call so they can tag along, and until that happens they get a tour of the department conducted by fireman Jake (Jay Hernandez) and his sexist partner George (Jonathan Schaech) who has told his fireman buddies he will ‘nail’ our sexy reporter before the end of the night. My man should have tossed in ‘if we survive until’ the end of the night.

After a virtual eternity a call finally comes in and off they go to an apartment building were they are met by the buildings super (Rabe Serbedzija) who tells our firepersons that there is a crazy woman in one of the apartments who needs help. This could very well be the understatement of the year. What our fireman, camera crew and a couple of cops including Office Danny Wilenski (Columbus Short) will find is one Mrs. Espinosa who has gone completely bonkers. Eventually, after one cop gets good chunk of his neck ripped out and a fireman takes a two story header, the skittish Officer Wilenski will have to shoot this blood soaked loon. Problem solved, let’s go home.

Not so fast my friend because apparently some outside forces, mainly SWAT and the CDC – that’s the Center for Disease Control for the acronym challenged out there, - have bolted the doors and quartered off the block. This wouldn’t be so bad if whatever Mrs. Espinosa was infected with hadn’t started to spread, infecting everyone who comes in contact with the virus, or whatever, turning them into crazed flesh eating maniacs, which obviously has to suck. Why is this happening, we can’t be to sure, though the vet in our crew of apartment dwellers who is serving as the defacto triage doctor has a few wacky theories. Whatever is happening inside the apartment, the armed commandos outside have one goal and that’s keep the infection contained in the building while our few survivors have the opposite goal of FREEDOM! After seeing what’s going on in that building, I hope none of those suckas make it out.

So it was brought to my attention that ‘Quarantine’ is a shot for shot remake of the Spanish horror movie ‘REC’ and in my stack of movies I have to watch I have a copy of ‘REC’ and I’m quite upset at myself that I didn’t watch the original before watching this remake as I prefer to see originals before watching the usually inferior remakes. Oh well. Thus with no reference point to sink the movie I have to say I found ‘Quarantine’ quite entertaining. It has been shown on more than one occasion, when done correctly, the whole point of view camcorder thing is a very effective story telling device, and here for the most part it was very effective. Since we were locked into one point of view the creepy sounds of the buildings and those weird growls were amped up considerably, and naturally we can never be sure what’s just around the corner, which also raised the tension factor.

The problem with the way Dowdle shot his film as opposed to ‘Cloverfield’ is that whatever they did in ‘Cloverfield’ I eventually adjusted to the shooting style and it didn’t bother me as much. But with ‘Quarantine’, perhaps because of the closed environment, the shaky camera and low light situations eventually became pretty damn frustrating. There were times were you couldn’t make out anything that was going on on screen for minutes at a time, and I realize I’m supposed to be scared and all, and if I were in that situation I’m pretty sure I’d be peeing on myself but I’m in a movie theater just wishing I could see. Another problem I had with this movie is that they put the money shot scare in the trailer so you know already when it’s coming well in advance which rendered what should have been the best shot in the movie completely inert. Why do they this?

‘Quarantine’ did have a nice cast of actors who did a good job transferring their situation through the screen, and without knowing that Steve Harris was the cameraman before hand, I had commented to the dude sitting next to me that whoever is playing the cameraman is doing a helluva job because he had the best lines and the best reactions to the situations out of all of the actors. I think that dude wanted to tell me to shut up, but he wisely chose discretion.

I guess I should watch ‘REC’, but then I’d be judging the original against a copy which just doesn’t seem fair. Even though ‘Quarantine’ isn’t a movie I’d want to see a second time because I really can’t see myself dealing with the camera and a the darkness again, it was still a pretty decent freak out style horror movie in the tradition of ‘The Thing’ that moves well and does a good job telling its crazy story.

Real Time Web