Quarantine

Year: 2008
Director: John Erick Dowdle
IMDB Link: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1082868/

Rating:

Review:
A remake of the Spanish film REC,  Quarantine is a “first person” movie where the audience sees everything from the point of view of the cameraman, Scott Percival (Steve Harris).  The shaky camera work is less nausea inducing than Cloverfield, but still might require some Drammamine for some.

The story follows Angela Vidal (Jennifer Carpenter), a spunky TV reporter, and her cameraman Scott as they follow a fire department on a typical night.  After meeting the various fire fighters at the station, they tag along on a call from an apartment building where a woman is ill.  They discover that the woman has some sort of disease that causes her to become extremely violent and one of the paramedics is bitten.  The entire building is then cordoned off by National Guard soldiers and everyone inside is quarantined.

The bitten medic eventually becomes a raging lunatic and, as you can guess, the story goes from there are one by one the residents of the building are picked off by the newly infected “zombies.”  The dwindling number of survivors desperately look for a way out, while meanwhile dealing with the ravenous infected.

There are a few major flaws with this movie.  First, the survivors never attempt simply holing up in one of the many apartments, which they could barricade and wait for the eventual storming by government troops.  The infected appear to be no more strong than an average person, and while immune to pain, they have no special resistance to injury.  Barricading in one of the apartments should have allowed the survivors to remain relatively safe until they could be rescued.

The second glaring flaw is the ending, which really kills the movie for me.  Spoiler alert here, but in the end only Angela and Scott survive and make it to the attic apartment.  There they discover the origin of the infection, a doomsday cultist who apparently created a new strain of rabies.  They find the cultist, now a feral, ghoulish thing in the actual attic, and it smashes the camera light, plunging them into darkness.  Only the nightvision on the camera allows Scott to see anything.  And here’s where we go off the rails, because instead of keeping a steady watch on the crazed, infected cultist, the cameraman instead keeps looking over to his frightened reporter colleague.   Look, I know she’s hot, but come on…pay attention to the damned danger in the room and not the sobbing mess.  This lack of attention of course leads to Scott’s demise.

This leads to the third flaw, where Angela, alone in the dark but still in the camera’s eye, is pulled away into the darkness by the crazy psycho.  This was not only in the trailer, but it’s the damned movie poster.  They literally showed you the big climactic scene…in the POSTER.  This would be like showing Norman Bates in his mother’s dress on the poster for Psycho, or showing Bruce Willis as a semi-transparent ghost on the poster for The Sixth Sense.  How stupid were the advertising people here?

It’s these three issues that really bring the movie down for me.  The effects are top notch, the acting is passable, and the use of the shaky cam is convincing enough without dipping into “student film” territory.  If the ending were just slightly reworked and the advertising folks strung from their necks for being so stupid, the movie would have been a really good zombie romp.  There are some genuinely scary moments, but the last ten minutes of the movie make you want to reach through the screen and slap the protagonists.

My final recommendation – watch it on cable.  It’s not worth buying, though if you don’t have anything else to watch and it’s a cheap rental, go for it.

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