Directed by John Erick Dowdle
Starring Jennifer Carpenter, Stave Harris, Jay Hernandez
Release date: October 10, 2008
The first-person tale only really became famous this year, but I remember back in 1999 when it was first introduced. The Blair Witch Project introduced the whole first-person camera shoot, and the film changed my life forever. For the first time in my life, I found something that displayed the meaning of life — the answer was film.
And throughout the years (actually, throughout THIS year), we have seen our share of first-person films. The year was kicked off with Cloverfield, which I still think is one of the best films of the year, and I got TWO ticket stubs to prove that. On the other hand, there was George A. Romero’s Diary of the Dead, which very well may just be one of the most disappointing films of the year. I get more disappointed the more I think about it.
I’m usually the one who is baffled whenever a film is remade, specifically horror films that are based off of foreign horror flicks, but this time I became very interested when I heard that the new horror film Quarantine was a remake of a Spanish film released sometime last year called [Rec]. I only heard of the film a few times in the past, but I didn’t really know too much about its story to know that it was remade into one of the most anticipated horror films of the year, and I doubt that most audiences will go into Quarantine knowing that it is a remake.
But I think that having a remake for [Rec] is completely understandable. Out of all of the people who are really into horror films, I guarantee you that only one-fiftieth of them have seen it. This isn’t because we are just too damn lazy to check it out, but it hasn’t been released into theaters or DVD so Americans could see (though I found countless links of the film on YouTube, which I plan on watching later this week). I’m just judging Quarantine as a film on its own…
And here comes to my review part of the film…
Quarantine fucking rocks.
It’s very rare for me to really exclaim it, but you know, for the first time this year, I truly felt that what I just saw on the big screen was one of the films that we REALLY needed. It doesn’t fit into all of the other horror films we’ve seen this year, from original screenplays like The Strangers, to the shitty horror remakes like One Missed Call, to even the upcoming Saw sequel. This is a film that has to be seen on the big screen in order to really fall in love with it. As a horror fan, I watched Quarantine and became so interested in what I was watching that I wanted to watch it a second time (and this was only halfway through the movie). Movies like Quarantine are the reason why I’m still in love with film.
For the first fifteen minutes of Quarantine we are taken around a fire station by Angela Videl (Jennifer Carpenter) and her camera-man Scott (Steve Harris) for a trip for late-night TV show/news reporting. It seems to be a pretty bland and boring night around the fire-station, until a call comes in to investigate a disturbance in an apartment complex. Moments later, firemen, police, tenants, and the news reporter and her camera-man are quarantined in the building, and phone reception and internet connection are dead. They must find a way to get out of this building before everyone gets infected with a disease.
So before you start throwing out questions such as, “ARE THEY ZOMBIES?!” or “ARE THEY ALL GONNA DIE?!”, let me be the first to tell you to not ask questions. Writer and director John Erick Dowdle brings a film that is wonderfully constructed. The first fifteen minutes are just a way to get us familiar with a few of the main characters. We see that Angela and Scott do different kinds of work than what most news reporters do, but their reportings are put to the test when they become quarantined in the building. They decide that they could either shut off the camera and lose everything they started or leave the camera on and film everything so people will “know what happened.”
And don’t get me started with the whole thing that Cloverfield did that first. There ALWAYS comes a time when you can drop the camera and help someone out. Our host in Cloverfield never dropped the camera, and when it came time to (when our host met his demise) he still never let it leave his hands. George A. Romero’s Diary of the Dead didn’t work because these guys were filming on camera. If something’s chasing after you, it is okay to film it, just as long as you know what you’re doing and you are extremely careful. If you are shooting your best friend fighting off a zombie with two different video-cameras, there is you cue to drop the camera and go beat the zombie in the head.
After watching Quarantine, I came up with a fair enough reason as to why the camera is never put down — we are living in a post-9/11 world, where we thought that everyone lived in harmony, there were no secrets, and everything would be perfect. After 9/11, we took notice that there were people that want nothing more to see the world be gone with and the government is always hiding something. In this case, the people who are quarantined in the apartment complex are never told why they are stuck in there. Two tenants actually get a little bit of television connection, to which that they hear police outside of the apartment complex telling news reporters that everyone has been evacuated.
Occurrences like secrets are being kept every day. There are some people who believe that the government keeps secrets to protect the people, but how can we really be protected if the people who are supposed to be protecting us aren’t doing their jobs? And that is the question that Quarantine begs. I wasn’t scared about all the scenes that made me jump. I was scared because shit like this happens in real life. There is more to fear than a few guys tapping on your back in a dark room.
But if you really wanted to know the answer, yes, I did jump at a few scenes. It is one of those films that work well with an audience because everyone falls for the same scare. It is something that we can laugh about after the film ends. If people call [Rec] one of the scariest horror films ever made, and if I give the remake four stars, what does that make Quarantine?
I’ll give you an answer — the best damn horror film of 2008.
**** out of ****