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Even at a glance, it is clear that Quarantine has boarded the 'fad' bandwagon it two respects. Firstly, this chiller joins up with the abundance of remakes that choke the gullet of Hollywood, and at an impressively rapid pace I may add, duplicating its Spanish predecessor (Rec) within a year's time. Secondly, it is the successor in a line of films, some from earlier this year in fact, that adopt the hand-held camera technique (which may soon be classified more accurately as a gimmick) to construct a first hand, real time account of events. Yet, despite succumbing to these popular fixations, and the flag of death that is the studios reluctance to screen the film, Quarantine is crisp effective horror.
When comparing (Rec) and Quarantine, the similarities are glaring. In fact, the films are almost identical, save a few altered snippets. Which is good in the sense that nothing was lost in translation and although nowhere near as disgraceful as remaking classics or art films, it still begs to ask the question why? Alas, the average viewer does not wish to read subtitles, especially when watching horror, so the update went through. Directed by newcomer John Erick Dowdle he makes the most of his debut. Procuring a larger budget then its inspiration, Quarantine looks better as a whole (despite more frequent incomprehensible shots involving darkness and jiggle cam) and is able to incorporate some effects into the production, such as a continuous and chilling shot of a person being tossed down a stairwell. Comparisons to 2008's earlier films Cloverfield and Diary of the Dead are unavoidable, and remains squarely in the middle; a far-cry from the ingenuity and atmosphere of Cloverfield, but avoids the horrendous acting and scripting of Diary.
Mirroring (Rec) Quarantine begins with a reporter, Angela Vidal (Jennifer Carpenter) who hosts a late night television program. On this particular night, Angela and her cameraman Scott (Steve Harris) are doing a ride-along with the firemen of a local station in L.A., including Jake (Jay Hernandez) and Fletcher (Jonathan Schaech). After a tenuous night of boredom and anxiety, they are finally called to the scene of an apparent accident in an aging condo, involving an elderly tenant. Things are not as they seem however as soon after, the CDC seals off the building with the foursome, and the reaming residents still inside. Their reasoning is good it seems, as all hell breaks loose as a mysterious rabies virus rips through the building turning those exposed into zombie-like fiends. The survivors must work together to battle the infected, the authorities and each other.
Both films incorporate the inherent problem of the disease itself, which seems to frequently shift in its required incubation period, but is not really a huge impediment for the film as a whole. The opening act which is situated entirely at the station is both surprisingly involving and witty, and works to some extent as character development. The finale is also pulse-pounding, if not entirely inspired, but lacks the sheer terror I felt at the finale of (Rec). When breaking it down, Quarantine's opening is better then the original, and (Rec)'s final act is better then its imitator, so things balance out. Each film boast a superb scene mid to late film, including the aforementioned stairwell plummet in Quarantine and a scene in (Rec]) involving the same stairwell in which the heroes peer down to see the lower floors of infected peering back; eerie stuff. I would encourage horror fans to see both before making their choice, and to be honest I haven't quite chosen myself which is superior. Regardless, Quarantine takes advantage of a ploy that has not yet become stale, and yielding authentic portrayals from its relatively unknown cast and an ominous atmosphere, this flick is infectious to be sure.
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