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Quarantine (2008)

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Plot Summary:
"A reporter and a cameraman are just two of the people trapped inside an apartment building after a deadly strain of rabies breaks out in the city of Los Angeles."

Review by
Ryan McDonald
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Review Date: 25 May 2010 My Rating: out of 5


News reporter Jennifer Carpenter and her cameraman Steve Harris are on a routine story following a night in the lives of LA fire-fighters. Travelling to an apartment building on a disturbance call, they are alarmed to find an old lady going completely rabid and bitey. And before they (or any of the other tenants in the building) are able to get their heads around this bizarre situation, the building is put guessed it, quarantine. Lots of biting, screaming, running, and semi-professional camerawork ensues.

This John Erick Dowdle film is a tough one for me. Itís a remake of the excellent Spanish horror flick '[REC]', following the film (which was sort of '28 Days Later' meets 'The Blair Witch Project') almost to the letter, but with different cast and crew. It isnít all that much of a step down in quality, for the most part.

I canít even really recommend it to people who havenít seen '[REC]', because...well, go and damn well see '[REC]' then! And anyone who has seen it, does not need to see this almost shot-for-shot Americanisation (some of the early scenes differ from the original, and a few plot holes are sewn up, but thatís about it), as it wonít be as impactful. This film just simply shouldnít exist, at the end of the day and I couldnít quite get that notion out of my head.

Anyway, thereís some nice, chewy-bitey zombie action, I gotta say, with an awesome visual of a guy missing most of the flesh on his leg. I also liked the moment where Harris beats the hell out of a zombified person with his camera and we see blood splatter the lens. The shaky cam style, which I found to be quite good in the original (I hate the technique, but it worked better there than in any film Iíve seen since 'The Blair Witch Project'), is more professional-looking and less sickness-inducing this time out. Some will see this as a flaw, but given that itís a professional cameraman at the handicam helm, it makes sense to me, as it did in the Spanish film. For what itís worth, the camerawork is more zoom-happy than anything else.

The one big plus this film has is lead actress Jennifer Carpenter who is easily may favourite thing on TVís cult hit 'Dexter'. Sheís similarly likeable here, if not quite as adorable as her Spanish counterpart from the original. Carpenterís slight tomboyishness separates her from the perky original anyway. Sheís still funny, likeable and personable, itís just that she has a different, less adorable vibe. By the end of the film, it has to be said that Carpenter is acting her little heart out, and itís a shame that the film failed to grab me for reasons outside of her control.

Totally unnecessary and very hard to give a rating to if youíve seen the original. Itís still far more preferable than the terrible 'Cloverfield' or the uneven 'Diary of the Dead' in the shaky-cam horror sub-genre. But seriously, couldnít they have waited like 5 years at least before making this?

Reviewer: Steven Davies @braindeadsteve
Location:Luton, UK
Review Date: 11 March 2009 My Rating: out of 5

'Quarantine' follows a much rampant redux revolution in the US which seems to have finally run out of ideas and has decided to dig it's claws into more internationally successful ideas. This time it's the turn of Spanish real-time horror '[Rec]'.

Local TV reporter Angela Vidal along with her cameraman whilst on location at a Los Angeles Fire Station find theirselves tangled up in a 911 call involving a small apartment building that ends up becoming quarantined with a number of residents, fireman and police officers inside. Only to discover that they're no alone. The entire movie is shot through the eyes of the camera and presented in real-time. And much like 'The Blair Witch Project' and 'Cloverfield' indicates to audiences that this videotape is what was discovered when the quarantine was finally lifted.

The english-speaking revamp was always going to have a tough time in living up to the high standards set by its predecessor. But The Brothers Dowdle have managed to make something of it without too much copycatting. That being said there is an extreme similarity in regards to sets, set-ups and sequences that are clearly lifted straight from '[Rec]' but there's also plenty of new ideas and dialogue to keep things slightly contradistinct.

The real advantage the Dowdle's (John Erick and Drew) had whilst making this movie is the fact that '[Rec]' is a superior horror movie and therefore keeping close enough to it allows audiences unfamiliar with the original to enjoy it's thrills and originality.

I do have certain gripes about the movie, however, and that mostly revolves around actress Jennifer Carpenter, who plays the prattishly annoying Angela. I can't say I'm much of a fan at all to be honest but especially in this movie her performance was not only irritating but bordering on the 'you're giving me a freakin headache' realm. I can think of at least 20 actresses that I feel would have been more engaging and believable in the role. It needed to be an engaging performance as she spends 90% of the movie on camera in her split role as hard-ass reporter and petrified tit. Sadly she fell short by some way.

But there's some great sequences, nice effects and plenty of gore and nastiness to keep even the hardened horror-sceptic gently pleased.

On the whole 'Quarantine' is probably an 'unnecessary' remake but in a day and age where kids have been sucked into abbreviating everything would they sit still long enough to be bothered reading whilst at the movies? The ending for me was less intense and ultimately weaker on the scare-factor than the original. And Jennifer Carpenter...shut up!

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