A television reporter and her cameraman are assigned to spend the night shift with a Los Angeles Fire Station. After a routine 911 call takes them to a small apartment building, they find police officers already on the scene in response to blood curdling screams coming from one of the apartment units. They soon learn that a woman living in the building has been infected by something unknown. After a few of the residents are viciously attacked, they try to escape with the news crew in tow, only to find that the CDC has quarantined the building. Phones, internet, televisions and cell phone access have been cut-off, and officials are not relaying information to those locked inside. When the quarantine is finally lifted, the only evidence of what took place is the news crew's videotape.
Directed by: John Erick Dowdle
. Starring: Jennifer Carpenter
, Steve Harris
, Jay Hernandez
, Johnathon Schaech
, Columbus Short
, Andrew Fiscella
, Rade Serbedzija
, Greg Germann
, Bernard White
, Dania Ramirez
, Elaine Kagan
, Marin Hinkle
, Joey King
Ever since seeing "An American Werewolf in London", at the age of five, I have been an aficionado of horror films. For years, the genre constantly delivered the cinematic thrills I instantly became addicted to. But the genre has since fallen on hard times, and things have yet to get better. Put simply, there are simply too many J-Horror film remakes, PG-13 fright flicks, torture porn films, and romanticized vampires for the field to be taken seriously anymore. Sadly, despite having promise, "Quarantine" falls into yet another detrimental category-'the gimmick.
However, I first want to state that this movie isn't all that bad. The acting, all the way from Jennifer Carpenter to Columbus Short, was pretty good. There was no problem on my part in believing their characters were truly on edge and in dire straits. The set design was also tight. If I lived in California and that building actually existed, I wouldn't mind living there-'after it was cleaned up. Also, I have to give props for the lighting and sound. What I could see looked damned good and what I could hear sounded even better. But, and I hate to say it, this film is still mediocre.
I felt that the pacing was a bit too uneven. "Quarantine" is approximately ninety minutes long. Normally, this running time would be more than long enough to present a full and satisfying tale. But, seeing as how it spends the first fifteen minutes in a fire station, the pacing is far from smooth. Instead of the situation steadily progressing, it rushes to the worse case scenario in too little time to let things develop. One second the story has two or three infected. Then, in a matter of seconds and off camera, the number of infected persons spirals out of control. Before I had time to adjust to the change in status quo, everyone was running for their lives, and I was left feeling out of the loop. A more gradual shift would've been easier to follow.
Also, at several points during "Quarantine", logic just seemed to jump out the window. For one, where were the guns? There were two police officers with sidearms. Later there were two CDC agents with rifles. This counts for four firearms. Yet, only one of the infected was shot. Too me, that made no sense. In one scene, there is an infected person on the other side of a glass door. One character states that the door won't hold. The same character then proceeds to stand right in front of the glass so the infected can reach through and kill him. It was established that this carnage was all due to a contagious pathogen. Then Carpenter's character insists on taking off her jacket and running around in a wife beater? Lastly, a woman is carrying around her sick daughter for what seems like forever. Then, without any warning or change in her condition, the tyke goes evil, attacks her mom, and runs off?
But, for me, what really hampers "Quarantine" is it's standing as a gimmick film. From beginning to end, everything is seen from the POV of a hand-held camera. Whatever the camera doesn't see or hear, doesn't really exist-'problem. Imagine if "Jaws" had been seen entirely from Chief Brody's POV. We wouldn't have witnessed the opening scene which made the film. We'd never have seen poor Alex Kittner get dragged under the waves in horrific fashion. In "Quarantine", however, this singular focus resulted in me not being able to better understand what the hell was going on. It would've been nice to see more background on this Doomsday Cult. Who were they? Based off the sounds on that tape recorder, what were they? On the flip side, I also never really got to feel anything for the residents of this doomed building, because I wasn't allowed to know who they were or where they were coming from.
Dania Ramirez's character gets infected-'BFD. A lawyer gets shredded by an infected dog-'so what. The lady with the infected daughter is left handcuffed to a staircase where she is attacked-'whoop de friggin' do. With them being little more than luggage for the narrative to carry, why should I care about any of them? Normally, in a less claustrophobic movie, this wouldn't matter (case in point "AVP 2"). But, when the environment is so heavily confined and the cast rather small, it sticks out. In other words, it's one thing if I don't care about the majority of a cast. But if I'm not given enough info to care about one character from a cast of twelve, that's something else altogether. And repeated viewings, once the one-time thrill of the gimmick had run its course, didn't answer my questions. If anything, watching this twice only made it more obvious how thin this movie was.
Still, "Quarantine" is worth a rental for being a hard R horror flick, with decent production values. I was going to give this a seven for being fun, but having some nagging issues. Sadly, seeing as how it's a remake of a recent foreign film, I have to lower it a point. Hopefully, if they do another horror film, the Dowdle Bros. will abandon the gimmicks of this and the "Poughkeepise Tapes" to focus on crafting an original and more satisfying story. With any luck, maybe it will be the next great sea monster or werewolf flick-'because God knows they don't make those anymore.
Review by disdressed12 [IMDB 30 May 2009] from the Internet Movie Database.