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Americans just don't seem to understand horror anymore. Most of the quality and substantive work in the horror genre, these days, is coming from France, Sweden, Spain and England. Directors like Neil Marshall, Guillermo del Toro and Alexandre Aja have made big splashes, but their brands of horror are not rooted in the mythos of American horror. Americans always want to take something new and hot from overseas and give it the bastardized 'States treatment'. The phenomenal vampire film from Sweden, "Let the Right One In", was recently announced to be remade by Matt Reeves, the jackass who directed "Cloverfield", an utter disappointment. And, now, the recent Spanish horror film, "Rec", has been turned into "Quarantine", the latest horror picture from Screen Gems that has been trailering for months and months. Well, the joke's on me. "Quarantine" was good. In fact, it was damned good. I won't say it was as good as "Rec" because it wasn't, but it was far better than any other remake I have seen and it was one of the better horror films of the year. And, believe me - I was not expecting to feel this way. I was expected to be disappointed. Why? It might have something to do with the fact that the trailer shows the final shot from the film. How in God's name can you show audiences the final shot from the film in a trailer? This aside, the film was a damned good entertainment features plenty of jumps and some nice visuals.
This picture is shot in the documentary style format, like "Cloverfield" and "The Blair Witch Project" among others. Angela (Jennifer Carpenter) is a reporter who, along with her best friend and cameraman, Scott (Steve Harris), is assigned to shadow a group of firemen for the night, the most prevalent being Jake (Jay Hernandez) and Fletcher (Jonathon Schaech). After a few minutes of soaking up what they do at the station, they are sent out on a call to an old apartment building where a woman was heard screaming. Once inside, the firemen, the reporter and cameraman, and a group of tenants from the building find themselves trapped inside with injured people who seem to be getting sicker and sicker and angrier and angrier. When they try to leave, they are told they cannot do so, as they have been locked down until the CDC can come in and investigate. As they attempt to deal with their injured parties, people start disappearing and their fates look grim as the surrounding authorities refuse to let anyone leave the premises.
I know what you're thinking - haven't I seen this before? You probably have. While the film is not a total copy of another film, it borrows bits and pieces from other horror films like "28 Days Later", "The Blair Witch Project", "The Descent" and even "Diary of the Dead". But - that said - so did the original film on which "Quarantine" was based. But what horror film is totally original these days, huh? What makes "Quarantine" work is the sense of claustrophobia that ensues the picture. We are introduced to this group of characters and we watch them interact with one another, handle stressful situations and deal with impending death all around. The death scenes are graphic, just bloody enough and jump-tastic. The audience with which I saw the film was jumping and covering their eyes and screaming at the right moments. That's what a horror film is supposed to do. And, the visual style of the film was quite enjoyable. Usually, the handheld format can get a little so-so, but they managed to sustain it for a while, complete with the camera being used as a weapon and seeing random things out of the corner of your eyes that add more hysteria to the picture.
It also helps that the performances in the film are better than your normal horror film. Jennifer Carpenter does a fine job as Angela - you might remember her as Emily Rose from "The Exorcism of Emily Rose" or from her role on "Dexter". Steve Harris, though rarely seen, is the voice behind the camera. Jay Hernandez - officially one of the hottest men on the planet - does another fine job as a fireman - he always seems to play firemen or policemen. Jonathon Schaech was underused in his role, but did a fine job with what we saw. And we get a host of colorful and well cast actors in supporting roles, including Greg Germann and Denis O'Hare.
Not much else to say about "Quarantine". It was a damned entertaining horror film and one of the best I have seen this year. I would encourage you to see "Rec" first and then "Quarantine" so you can see that the latter isn't as bad as you would expect it to be, judging from the original. October is the month for horror films and it's off to a fine start with this one.
Those of you fortunate enough to have seen [Rec] know that it is one of the finest horror movies in recent years. Naturally, America got the rights for a remake before the DVD has even been given a release here, and within a little over a year, American audiences were treated to Quarantine. Was it as good as [Rec]? No, but remakes almost NEVER match up with the source material. Was it a bad horror movie? Not particularly, but it also wasn't very creative, or scary.
Review by Tristan
Added: October 12, 2008
Just like the original, Quarantine is a documentary style movie that follows Angela (Jennifer Carpenter) and her cameraman (Steve Harris) as they shadow two firemen, Jake and Fletcher for an evening. After a few small interviews and a game of basketball, the group heads out on a routine call to a downtown apartment building. There has apparently been a disturbance involving an elderly woman and a lot screaming. Why firemen are called in for this is unclear, but I suppose that's just how they do things down there. Once inside the building they find themselves "quarantined" in the building, along with a few police officers and the building's tenants. All attempts to escape result in warnings from the outside to stay away from the windows and wait until the situation is has been resolved. What is the situation? Well, it would appear that some kind of rabies like virus is spreading amongst the residents and turning them into vicious killers. With very little to defend themselves with, and with people dropping left and right, the group has to use their combined energy to protect themselves and hopefully make it through the night.
Naturally, having seen [Rec] first, I'm a little biased. It was a phenomenal film, and currently resides in my top 10 films of all time. Quarantine wasn't all bad, and to be honest, it was what I expected from a film of this nature. There wasn't much violence or gore on camera, and the only thing they really had to play on was people's fear of knowing that the building is crawling with these infected people, and nobody knows where they are. It's more of what you don't see that scares you. Supposed to scare you, I should say, as nothing in this movie was the least bit frightening. Even the "loud noise" scares were poorly done, and every time they used a scene from [Rec] I just found myself shaking my head at how poorly executed it was.
There were a few highlights in this, however. The acting - essentially the most important part of a movie - was surprisingly good. Aside from Jennifer Carpenter, who was fucking annoying and horrendous, everyone did a fantastic job. You obviously don't see Steve Harris much, but I felt he did a great job keeping Jennifer's character calm, and trying to be the voice of reason in a sticky situation. Jay Hernandez, who I personally thought would make a horrible fireman, did a pretty good job as the muscle and group leader until the end of the film. There were other fine performances turned in by the supporting cast, but the roles were small and not worth going into great detail.
I wish Americans would just leave foreign horror movies alone. It's happening far too often where an exceptional horror movie is being butchered by a remake. Quarantine sucked, and I'm sure when [Rec] is finally released it will not receive the attention it deserves due to the quality of this one. Eventually it'll get an audience and become one of the fine horror movies this decade has offered up. Until that time however, audiences will keep watching crap like Quarantine and think it's "the scariest movie of the year". This movie was not scary, not inventive or original, and sure as hell did not do [Rec] any justice. 3/10 if you've seen [Rec], 5/10 if you haven't.
- added 10/11/2008, 08:35 PM
Let's avoid spoilers here, so a simple
"yes" or "no" will suffice
when answering my question... but... I was reading
an interview with the filmmakers where they tried
to rationalize that scene being shown in the
trailer by saying that that may have closed out
[rec], but it wasn't the ending of this remake -
supposedly, they extended the ending and came up
with their own closure. Is that true?
- added 10/11/2008, 09:08 PM
No. It's the final shot.
- added 10/12/2008, 03:02 AM
I read that same interview. They lied. It's the
grain of sand
- added 10/13/2008, 03:59 AM
Eh, they could have done a whole lot worse with
this.. But seeing it after REC just ruins it, it
doesn't even come close in my opinion.
I was actually frightened during REC, something
I've been waiting for for a long time in a film..
This honestly didn't do anything for me, but my
friends who don't read subtitles loved it.
- added 10/14/2008, 09:58 AM
I am totally and completely in agreement with The
Fecal Kid. I am still waiting to see [REC] but
decided I might as well see this one first. I was
somewhat disappointed. I was pleased to see Steve
Harris from "The Practice" in it (one of
my favorite shows), but I thought the overacting
by the lead actress was severely distracting (to
the point where I just wanted the movie to end).
Also, showing the final shot in the trailer was
absolutely abysmal - the individual(s) responsible
for that travesty should be fired. The movie
itself was okay, not my favorite - but not
terrible either. I wouldn't watch it again though.
- added 10/14/2008, 10:05 AM
Agreed about the trailer thing -- totally
unacceptable. And agreed on Steve Harris --
"The Practice" was one of my favorite
shows also and it was nice to see him doing some
- added 10/17/2008, 11:31 AM
I keep waiting for Steve Harris to reprise his
role as Eugene Young on Boston Legal, but it
hasn't happened so far.
- added 02/02/2009, 11:44 AM
I sort of agree with both reviews. This one,
taken as a standalone film, wasn't bad. It
certainly wasn't the worst remake I've seen, and I
can't say that I didn't enjoy it. Of course,
there's that other side of the coin, the side that
says "Why in the hell did they even
bother?" [rec] didn't need a remake, and
when you stop looking at this one as a standalone
release, it just doesn't hold a candle to the
original - it's the same damned film, scene for
scene and word for word, only, not as good. 7/10
sounds about right, and that's being completely
- added 02/02/2009, 02:55 PM
Having the ending shot play almost fully in the
coming attraction ruins not only this film, but
it's worthy progenitor...
It's just not
novel or powerful enough to warrant viewing once I
already know the shock ending. It just de-fangs
and another sty in the eye of horror
i'll get around to
watching the original once I've long forgotten
this debacle... hopefully.
- added 02/02/2009, 03:10 PM
Having that scene ruined is a bummer, but it by
no means ruins the film. I actually knew about it
before I watched the original, and that one
*still* managed to creep me out - as much horror
as I watch, that should be a testament to how
freaking amazing it is. Oh, and the scene that
leads up to that spoiled moment? That single
scene completely destroys damned near everything
I've seen in any horror flick, ever.
- added 03/06/2009, 10:16 AM
Hmmm... interesting points, Chadsky.
check it out soon for that scene...
- added 10/09/2009, 04:09 PM
I heard a lot of negative stuff about this movie
before I watched it. It wasn't near as bad as
people say. I had a pretty damn good time watching
it. 7 or so/10.
- added 08/07/2010, 09:28 PM
I almost stopped watching this near the end
because Angela (Jennifer Carpenter) was SO
ANNOYING, and the stood in front of the camera
half the time so I couldn't see what was
happening! I haven't seen REC so I can't compare,
but I'll put it on my list to watch.