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October 2008

by Wilson Morales


Studio: Screen Gems (Sony)
Director: John Erick Dowdle
Screenwriter: John Erick Dowdle, Drew Dowdle
Starring: Jennifer Carpenter, Jay Hernandez, Columbus Short, Greg Germann, Steve Harris, Dania Ramirez, Rade Sherbedgia, Jonathon Schaech
Running time: 89 minutes
Rated: R


When it comes to horror films, Americans have seen plenty of them; from individual slasher films with killers like Michael Myers, Jason Voorhees, and Freddy Kruger, to plenty of monster and zombie films. Originality no longer exists in the genre. Soon enough, there was an influx of remakes of horror films coming from different countries such Japan and Korea with films like ‘The Ring’ and ‘The Grudge’. With the exception of ‘Scream’, everything else you have seen recently is probably similar to an earlier film. When ‘The Blair Witch Project’ came out in 1999, it started a new trend in the genre, the hand held camera technique; and with the right plot, the formula has worked for some films. Such is the case with ‘Quarantine’, which is actually a good remake of the Spanish film, ‘Rec’. It’s frightening, gory, and suspenseful.

Television reporter Angela Vidal (Jennifer Carpenter) and her cameraman (Steve Harris) are assigned to spend the night shift with a Los Angeles Fire Station. They are working along with 2 firemen (Hernandez and Schaech). 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.

Many may not have seen the original film, so for those who did will find that the producers of this film have done a fine remake. Besides the look almost being shot for shot as the original, it holds the same intensity. Also, just like the original, there is no musical score to tell the audience what’s coming next, so don’t go looking to hear anything from composer Graeme Revell, who has scored a boatload of horror films. As stated previously, many will see this as a variation or continuation of similar films we’ve seen in the past such as ’28 Days Later’ or ‘Night of the Living Dead’ to name a few. The only difference is that the setting is in one location as opposite to different areas. While most of the characters are not multi-dimensional, some of them do stand out such as Steve Harris. Using a hand-held camera, Harris, who’s barely seen in the film as the film is shot through his point of view, showed great strength and skills in his quest to stay alive. He knows how to best find and use a weapon. Jennifer Carpenter, who made her film debut in ‘The Exorcism of Emily Rose’, may not have the same scream level as Jamie Lee Curtis, but she’s ok in this film. Unlike other horror films where one is being chased through the woods or in the streets, when you are trapped inside a building, your options are limited. You really have to wonder how exactly will the film this end? While the original film added some reason what led to this horrific incident, ‘Quarantine’ spends little time looking for an explanation, which is a drawback to some degree. Nevertheless, if you are looking for a film that will scare the wits out of you, even briefly, you can’t wrong from seeing this one.