Quarantine – I have read over many reviews of this movie and also seen some heated debates on the IMDb boards but the one thing I cannot make out is: why do some people feel so divided over two movies (this one and [*Rec], the original version) when they’re almost exactly the same? I could practically transpose my review for one to cover the other.
The slim plot is exactly the same: A cameraman and reporter follow a fire-crew into an apartment building that ends up being quarantined before things start going . . . . . a bit horribly wrong. As things unfold the reporter asks the cameraman to film everything so that they can get a major story on the outside.
The cinema verite style is exactly the same, the quality of acting (from leading lady Jennifer Carpenter and a support cast that includes Steve Harris, Jay Hernandez and Greg Germann) was just as good and the pacing was just right, with a few jumps here and there early on before things are tightened up a notch and also a few new scares that should please anyone who ends up getting an overwhelming feeling of de ja vu while watching the events unfold.
As far as remakes go, it’s fantastic mainly thanks to the fact that the central concept was so good anyway it would be really hard to completely balls it up. I understand that many people in the US were upset by the fact that this movie was released even before the original was distributed (if I remember correctly) and that is a crappy thing to do but it doesn’t detract from the fact that the film itself, thanks to it sticking so closely to the template of the original, is simply brilliant in its execution.
I will also end with the same warning I gave on my [*Rec] review – those who dislike shaky-cam films of this ilk are unlikely to be won over. I still recommend that you give it a try if you like horror movies (and it’s certainly more eventful than the likes of “Blair Witch) but there’s no escaping the fact that shaky-cam is shaky-cam.
Quarantine 2: Terminal (pictured)– A sequel to the above movie, this provides a few surprises thanks to two things. One, it’s not just a remake of [*Rec]2. Two, it’s not another instalment filmed in the hand-held style that the first movie had. Which kind of makes you wonder why they bothered to tie it in with the first movie in the first place.
Regardless of this, Quarantine 2 does briefly tie things in to the events of the first movie. People hear about the apartment block quarantined in the first movie and events are being dealt with by people in authority, apparently. It’s also more than a little inconvenient that a certain plane passenger used to live in that area and this kickstarts the chain of events that sees another group of people struggling to fend off zombies, avoid being killed by those keeping them quarantined and just trying to get out of the situation alive.
Did I mention that the people this time around are on a plane and have to land unexpectedly when things get all bitey and dangerous on board? They then end up in a disused terminal, hence the nice double-meaning of the title.
As I watched Quarantine 2 I was constantly thinking of how dull and amateurish everything looked. There were one or two moments that impressed (including some freaky, jerky zombie movements) but not enough to keep me riveted for the first half of the film. The direct-to-dvd standards were being too rigidly adhered to, in my view. Then things changed for the better and I began to reappraise my view of the whole thing. Tension was built, a few twists and turns may not have succeeded entirely but at least showed some originality and bravery, and my interest grew again, and was held right up until the very end, which does feature some infra-red, hand-held camerawork so I suppose that should help justify the thematic link to the first film.
The movie certainly has problems: the first half is a mix of build-up that is a little too slow and danger for characters we don’t care enough about, a lot of the movie seems to occur in some vacuum once it becomes apparent that the quarantined folk aren’t getting to go anywhere anytime soon and people separate far too easily (a common enough fault in many horror movies). Despite these flaws, the film soldiers on and tries to win you over. Which it does.
The acting is a mixed bag. Mercedes Masohn is decent enough in the lead role, an air stewardess who starts off trying to look after her passengers and eventually just wants to survive the whole ordeal. Josh Cooke is good enough as Henry, the charming passenger possibly holding a dangerous secret. Then we have young Mattie Liptak, an excellent young actor playing a young lad who is smarter and more observant than most of the adults around him. Few of the others make much of an impression though Noree Victoria gets more to do in the second half of the movie and does it well.
Writer-director John Pogue is the man who wrote the script for The Skulls and Ghost Ship but, if you hated those, don’t hold that against him. The script here could have been tighter and stronger, as could the direction, but for his first time in the director’s chair he doesn’t do that bad. I certainly wouldn’t write him off anyway and I’d be willing to watch a third Quarantine movie.
DIRECTOR: JOHN ERICK DOWDLE/JOHN POGUE
STARS: JENNIFER CARPENTER, STEVE HARRIS, JAY HERNANDEZ, GREG GERMANN/MERCEDES MASOHN, JOSH COOKE, MATTIE LIPTAK, NOREE VICTORIA
RUNTIME: 89 MINS APPROX/86 MINS APPROX