Happy Halloween

This one I recommend.

Escalatingly intense; well-made

The found footage genre meets the one of zombies in a 2007 film titled Quarantine, a remake of a similarly shot Spanish horror flick called [REC]. If it is an improvement over the original or a poor copy I cannot confirm, since I have only seen this American version. Confusingly, though, both movies has spawned a line of sequels, but that’s a different story for another time.

Quarantine is a wild and enthralling horror adventure with memorable moments and a colorful cast, but suffers from scenes of over-acting and particularly head-slapping instances of a guy refusing to stop filming and just run for his bloody life, moreso than in Paranormal Activity, even. However, I don’t consider these faults enough to make Quarantine a bad movie.

The plot – a young TV reporter named Angela (Jennifer Carpenter) is filming a crew of firefighters at work, with aide of her cameraman Scott (Steve Harris), which proves to get quite intense when the two of them decide to follow a team of firemen as they’re called to an apartment building, where screams have been heard from one of the rooms. In this room, they find a lady. This lady is not a nice one. This one wants to bite. Eventually, she does, and this is merely the start of a dangerous infection that will end up turning you into what can best be described as a zombie. But the z-word is never uttered in the movie. The residents are trapped within this building with the firemen, a police officer and the film crew when the building is sealed by the military, making an escape pretty much impossible.

The behaviour of the infected ones, according to the medic of the team, exhibits most of the symptoms of rabies, which isn’t exactly common amongst human beings, especially not at the rate it spreads inside this building. What we see throughout most of the film is bickering amongst an extraordinarily colorful cast of characters, including the jerky policeman who won’t listen, the all-knowing old guy who thinks he knows how the infection started, the little kid, the awkward British guy, the foreign couple that doesn’t quite understand what’s up and the aformentioned medic-type character. There’s no religious character preaching about the end of all things, but you can’t have ’em all.

Angela is the host of our show. Her camera stops at nothing.

With the many stereotypes featured, it’s arguable whether these characters are realistic enough for the found footage genre and their occassional stupid decisions don’t help. But this happens in most horror films. There are always instances of characters making stupid choices, the most severe being the guy who just can’t put his camera away, especially since this time it’s not the kind of hand-held camera used in most found footage films, but a large, clunky TV camera. We rarely see the man on-screen but I think it would’ve made sense if there was a twist at the end that revealed that he’s actually a mutant who has a video camera fused to his right arm.

The irrational choices of characters and moments of over-acting aside, though, is Quarantine a bad film? I don’t think it is. It successfully holds your attention from beginning to end with its escalating suspense, creepy special effects, lovely gorey violence and intensity that’s nearly on par with that in Cloverfield, which, in my opinion, is one of the best usages of the found footage shtick out there. I guess it’s also a bit impressive how the actors stay in character for all the several long shots in the film. I’m not sure how trained all of these people are, but they do fine.

Once more, I cannot say for sure if this one is better or worse than [REC]. My guess is that it doesn’t beat the original, as remakes so rarely do, but I am not saying that Quarantine is unwatchable or that the scares don’t work. If you’re planning a marathon that primarily includes scary movies, I’d say this one’s an option.

Also, one of the characters, who doesn’t make an appearance until the end, is apparently this sheltered hermit of a man who allegedly knows more about the origins of the virus than anyone else, hence why he isolates himself up on the attic apartment, and when he finally appears, he’s played by none other than Doug Jones. You can’t go wrong with that.

Here’s a trailer and my rating. I hope everyone’s having an awesome Halloween!

4/5 whatever

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