Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Quarantine (2008)


Shot-For-Shot

Apart from studio execs and first-time directors, nobody really wants a remake. They're unneeded and it's nearly impossible to ever succeed in bettering the original film. They only exist because a severe lack of creativity has plagued Hollywood writers for (at least) the past decade and instead of coming up with unique and fresh ideas, we have someone saying "Hey, this movie did super awesome in its native country. Now tone it down a bit and make it a little more stupid for the American audiences." Then again, many Americans despise reading subtitles, so I suppose some people may want remakes, but my point is that we don't really need them. Alas, we have them, and only a year after the outstanding and terrifying [Rec] hit screens, the US was already working on their version, Quarantine (I suppose they figured American audiences wouldn't understand shorthand for "record"). Surprisingly...it's not terrible.

Just like its predecessor, Quarantine finds late night reporter Angela Vidal (Dexter's Jennifer Carpenter) recording a session for an upcoming show about the lives of firefighters. It's here we meet the team that Angela will be shadowing for the night, led by the polite and handsome Jake (Jay Hernandez, Hostel). After getting more than enough b-roll of the firehouse, Angela lucks out when the firemen finally get a call, which she hopes will end up providing her with some entertaining footage for her show. The call isn't for a fire, however, but to assist an old woman in an apartment complex that the tenants believe is in trouble after hearing her screaming. The cops are already at the building when the crew arrives and along with Angela and her cameraman, head into the building. After breaking down the woman's door, they find her blood-stained and rabid in nature as she attacks a police officer, starting a vicious cycle of infection that targets everyone in the building. What makes things worse is that the apartment complex is completely quarantined by the CDC and armed gunmen are at every exit, making escape impossible and death (or worse) inevitable.


Quarantine is nearly a shot-for-shot remake of the original film, but they did add a few unique touches that spice up the characters a bit more. The opening scene in the fire station is much longer than the original, and while the film could still function the same without it, it allows the chance for us to see some humor and get to know the characters a little better. Another addition is that we see Angela's cameraman in the beginning (and a handful of times later on) of the movie. Since both films are shot from a P.O.V. perspective, this is another little bonus that doesn't really hurt the film (but still could have been left out without anything lost). In [Rec], the cameraman is rarely seen, so you get more of the feeling that you're seeing the action through your eyes. Quarantine reminds us that there's a person behind the camera that they want the audience to care about.


When it comes to scares, Quarantine still manages to deliver, but they aren't nearly as effective as the heart-stopping terror presented in [Rec]. Some scenes tend to drag out a little longer and if you've seen the original film, you already know what to expect around every corner. Regardless, it still manages to sneak a few surprising scares into the film. Quarantine seems to make up for this with some amplified gore not found in the original movie, like a scene where a rabid firemen walks on a broken leg that's bending and tearing with each step, or one character who is gunned down for attempting to escape the quarantine (a scene that was later found in [Rec] 2). The film also wipes away all of the religious aspects of the film and heads more in the direction of bio-terrorism and doomsday cults, as well as providing more of an explanation as to how the virus was initially released (I still prefer the ambiguous nature of the original). Oh, and don't expect the final attic sequence to be anywhere close to the nail-biting horror of the first film. It's revelation feels so matter-of-fact and less culminated that it's unfortunate and lacking in tension. My only other complaint is that the film is far too gorgeous. Though it's still shot in a shaky-camera style, the high definition is too crisp which takes away a bit of creepiness found in the original film's grainy and dark tone.


Despite some of these problems, Quarantine is still a very effective remake, and I give the filmmakers props for not destroying the credibility of the original story. Directed by John Erick Dowdle (The Poughkeepsie Tapes, Devil), it goes to show you that if you're going to insist on remaking an already perfect film, at least get a passionate genre filmmaker to direct it and you'll end up with something everyone can enjoy.

 4/5 Stars

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