Review: QUARANTINE

Posted by Peter Hall - October 12th 2008 @ 6:10 pm

Directed by John Erick Dowdle, 2008
Written by John Erick Dowdle & Drew Dowdle, based on 2007′s [REC]

QUARANTINE is nothing to me but a surrogate for everything wrong with Hollywood horror.  Production began on it before [REC] had even left post-production in its native Spain, which may just be a world record for fastest Hollywood remake.  Despite [REC] becoming the festival hit of 2007 and 2008, proving that the original film in its original state was an undeniable success, here we stand not twelve months later.  In the United States [REC] has yet to receive any commercial setting, be it limited theatrical run or a bare bones DVD.  Instead the stakeholders have given us an inferior American remake equipped with inferior performances under the eye of an inferior director, yet conversely boasts an astonishing superiority in the field of recreating to the tiniest detail every major set piece from its Spanish progenitor.

Thus I disclose my biased position in this review.  I might be in the position to call QUARANTINE a good movie were I able to shake the indelible memories of [REC].  That just taint the case, however, especially given John Dowdle’s slavish attention to detail in recreating the set pieces, the camera’s point of view therein and the script’s jolt’s throughout.  There are a few minor differences, mind you, but in no capacity can anything in this Screen Gems produced cash-grab be considered an improvement.

In fact, every addition to QUARANTINE over [REC] is a concession at the expense of audience enjoyment.  As should be expected from America, global leader of a rising obesity epidemic, the only original elements brought to the table are ones of bloat.  Bloated length, bloated script, bloated explanations.  Expansions where none was needed that do little but bog down the experience.  And since I’ve seen [REC], I’ve experienced QUARANTINE.  Maybe for the uninitiated watching this will be as delightfully frightful as watching the original, but that was not the case for me.  The last time I checked my watch this often I was sitting naked in an exam room waiting for the doctor.  Come to think of it, QUARANTINE had as much entertainment to offer me as that office did.  Or, more accurately, it did not.  I may actually take something away from reading year old issues of HIGHLIGHTS, I took nothing from QUARANTINE.

If you’ve seen [REC], rest sound knowing all your assumptions of QUARANTINE are true.  If you’ve not, which is probably the case, trust in my judgment and wait until [REC] is available on DVD.  This American schtick is not worth a trip to the theater.  It is rife with hysterics, hiding everything that should be shown and showing everything best held hidden.  Jennifer Carpenter plays a reporter shadowing a pair of firefighters for her late night news show.  The crew is called to an apartment building where a screaming woman refuses to leave her apartment.  Yadda, yadda, yadda infection causes extreme aggression yadda, yadda, yadda, the apartment’s residents and civil responders are quarantined inside the building.

That is all you the preparation you need.  There is not much to this script or its characters.  QUARANTINE does draw the non-horror bits out a bit more, attempting to flesh out relationships between the trapped individuals, but in my book it just gets in the way.  As does the casting of familiar faces like Carpenter, Jay Hernandez, Johnathon Schaech, and Greg Germann.  Where [REC] either bucked formula or rocketed through it faster than it took to register, QUARANTINE idles and accommodates.

This isn’t very professional, but to be honest, I don’t know what else to say.  QUARANTINE could be great, but I can’t make that call.  I’ve already seen it done better by more deserving individuals.  I can’t recommend it because I know better exists.  I can’t even distinguish it without comparing it to [REC].  If a first-person POV tale of a dozen people hunkered down with ravenous, infection spreading humans sounds like fun to you – which it is – hold out for [REC].  QUARANTINE is serviceable, but is bottom shelf compared to the alternative.  Pass this joint and wait for the good stuff to make its rounds.

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rss 5 comments
  1. Will Goss
    October 12th, 2008 | 6:56 pm | #1

    ” I may actually take something away from reading year old issues of HIGHLIGHTS, I took nothing from QUARANTINE.”

    Me-OW!

  2. Matt W
    October 12th, 2008 | 9:39 pm | #2

    “civil responders are quarantined inside the building.”
    I was wondering where they got the title from…

    HIGHLIGHTS kicked ass…

  3. deepfield
    October 17th, 2008 | 9:48 am | #3

    Did they get the same dude to play the “character” at the end of the film?

    If not.. PFFFTTT

  4. October 17th, 2008 | 9:59 am | #4

    Nope, deepfield. They got Doug Jones, who as awesome as he is in other roles, doesn’t hold a candle to the terrifying Javier Botet.

  5. Dennis A.
    February 15th, 2009 | 12:30 pm | #5

    I never heard of [REC] but I did see JuOn, the Asian template for the Grudge. Frankly, I hated the Grudge because if wasn’t even close to the creepiness of the orginal. I saw Quarantine and thought it was pretty good; much better than a lot of the current “horror hits” being celebrated as the “best since…”. I’m going to search out this [REC] and am anxious to compare it…

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