Friday, April 17, 2009


Quarantine is one of the latest American remakes of a foreign movie, in this case, the Spanish film [REC]. Adherents of the original say it is a much superior version, but I haven’t seen it, so Quarantine will have to be judged on its merits.

Angela (Jennifer Carpenter) is a news reporter, apparently one pretty far down on the food chain. She and her cameraman are doing a ride-along with some firemen on the night shift when they are called to a scene at an old apartment building, where an elderly woman has taken violently ill. And by violently, I mean she is attacking people and biting them in the neck. It gradually develops the building is the site of an outbreak of a disease that seems like an incredibly fast working version of rabies. The zombie-esque victims attack the unafflicted and convert them with their bites.

Even worse, when those inside the building try to leave, they discover the building has been sealed by the authorities in an attempt to contain the outbreak – to the point of killing those inside if need be. Those inside try to find a means of escape while fighting off the attacks of the increasing number of diseased people.

The movie has all the elements of a great horror flick. People trapped in an isolated setting, a sense of claustrophobia and increasing paranoia, etc. The acting is solid, and the script develops the situation well without overplaying its hand.

However, the movie is presented in the “first person camera” POV of The Blair Witch Project or Cloverfield. The only things you see are what is seen by the television cameraman. Although I liked the other two movies mentioned, I think I’m getting a little tired of the gimmick. There is no reason for the guy with the camera to keep filming while he’s fighting for his life, but he does (at one point beating someone to death with the extremely sturdy camera) because if he did the logical thing and dropped it, the movie would end. The trademark jittery, bouncing camera work combines with the low-light situation in most of the movie to make you wonder what the hell is going on in many scenes. I was grouchy and just wanted a professional film crew to step in and do a better job of filming the action.

Still, if the handheld camera gimmick doesn’t bother you, you may well like this one. The closing sequence, filmed with the night-vision feature on the camera, is exceptionally effective and scary.

As a caveat, I watched this right after my Habs lost the first playoff game to the Boston Bruins, so my opinion is possibly affected by my rotten mood.

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