Tuesday, October 21, 2014


I’ve mentioned before, on my take on The Strangers, that the reason I had decided on seeing that particular movie was because it was featured within the Halloween Horror Nights event at Universal Studios.  During that same experience, as you walked into the entrance of the park, the “scare actors” played out an evacuation, moving everybody out of the area as they had emergency vehicles and dressed in military tactical gear.  The trucks had hazmat symbols adorning the doors and the actors played out the scene as though the building facades had something lethal inside that they were protecting us from.  Of course, there were posters and advertisements around the park, so I knew the scene that was being played out in front of me was from the new film, Quarantine.

Just like The Strangers, at that point in time, the movie had come and gone in theaters, so I had to wait a few months before the film was released on home media.  Thus, when the time had arrived, I placed the film onto my Netflix queue and awaited its delivery.

Not too long before I had watched it, I’d realized that it was a remake of a 2007 Spanish film called [REC].  I’ll be honest with you and say that, to this day, I have not seen that version.  I’m sure I will one day, as I think the movie is actually available on Netflix streaming, but for now I’ll just discuss the 2008 American version.

The film opens, via raw footage, with reporter, Angela Vidal (Jennifer Carpenter), being filmed by
her cameraman, Scott (Steve Harris), as they get ready to film a report on the local fire department.  They interview firefighters, Fletcher and Jake (Johnathan Schaech and Jay Hernandez), within the firehouse when a report comes in to which they have to respond.  Angela and Scott go along with them in the emergency vehicle and pull up to an apartment building where a medical emergency was reported.  Along with some police officers, the firefighters enter the building and go up to an apartment where an elderly woman, Mrs. Espinoza (Jeanie Epper), suddenly goes crazy and they have to subdue her.  Soon, the firefighters and police, as well as a handful of residents, find out that they’ve all been locked in the building with the military outside ordering them not to try and leave.  When all cell phone and cable connections have been jammed so that no communications to the outside can be made, they all realize they’ve been sealed into quarantine…and believe they’ll never be allowed to leave alive.

Now this film is scary for two reasons.  First, you have the dread of knowing that the story involves some sort of infection that makes people into these crazed zombies.  Second, you feel the terror and helplessness that these people must feel when they realize they’ve been cut off from the world.  The thing about these fears that are presented and sensed here is that one is complete fantasy and the other is something that can very well happen.  I know the argument you may have with my opinion of the first trepidation of it having a fantastical aspect to it may be that it can actually happen.  My thought is that you’d be right, but I was looking at the story element of an infection turning someone into some mindless maniac.  By all means, an infection may spread and endanger a certain populace, but I still think it’s a little bit in the fictional realm to think that something would sicken us into monsters, giving us energy to be many times stronger than before.  However, whether or not that’s the case, the fact of the matter is that if something was able to spread, making it viable to institute a quarantine as to not let the virus—especially one with no known cure—get out into the population, I’m sure what happens in this story is exactly what would transpire in the real world.

The found footage style of the film had me doubt it at first, thinking back on all the ones that had been conveyor-belted out within the decade before Quarantine.  But the resourceful way that they had established it here (and, of course, I have to commend the Spanish filmmakers for this plot device used in the original), was that the whole thing was supposed to be a documentary.  Both main characters were professional reporters and it was in their line of work that their first thought was to document everything onto film—it’s what they were trained for.  With that in mind, you don’t have the unremitting thought that no one in their right mind would be filming when all this craziness is going on.  Believing the main characters are real reporters sets your mind at ease and helps you stay in the movie.

As you watch the story play out, especially when the action takes place in the complex, you may ask yourself what you would do in the characters’ situation.  Sometimes, when watching the movie, I think to myself that I would barricade myself in one of the apartments and wait it out.  But then my thoughts of the military burning the place down would enter my head and I’d feel the characters did what they could.  Then, I’d change my mind again and constantly think of an alternative to what they all end up doing.  It’s a constant barrage of “what ifs?” that you’ll think of, keeping this movie suspenseful for you.  Quarantinedefinitely has a rewatchability aspect that lets you revisit it over and over, making it a different experience every time you see it.

The main characters are believable enough and you can relate that they’re real reporters and
emergency personnel dealing with this nightmare.  Though now that I’ve devoted eight seasons to the “Dexter” television series, I can’t help but see Debra in this movie.  You can especially believe Johnathan Schaech as a fireman, seeing how much machismo he throws around and that mustache…whoa.  Everybody turns in a hell of a performance and makes this movie as authentic as it is.

So, what’s my final “bit” on Quarantine?

Although I can’t fairly compare it to the Spanish version, this American version hits the mark and might be the first found footage movie I can really believe in and enjoy thoroughly.  The movie gives you terror in the horror movie realm of things and also in a real world aspect.  Though the ending has something to be desired (the explanation to everything), it may be the most terrifying part of the film, which is perfect as everything builds up until that final scene.  I think most horror fans will love this…don’t miss it.

Well, that’s another one for the books.  Thanks for reading and have a Happy Halloween!

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