Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Second Annual FMS Scarelicious October Movie Series - Movie #8: Quarantine

Quarantine is the American remake of the very excellent Spanish horror film, [REC].  It's a pretty faithful retelling too:

Set in Los Angeles instead of Barcelona, [and I'm allowed to copy from my [REC] review because this is my blog] a cute little television reporter (Angela) and her cameraman (Scott), shooting a puff-piece on L.A.'s firemen, tag along with two of said firemen on a call to help an elderly woman trapped in her apartment.  When they get to the apartment building, the other tenants are milling about in the lobby, disturbed by the screaming coming from the old woman's flat.  Two policemen take the firemen and the t.v. crew up to the apartment and when they break the door down, all hell breaks loose.  The old lady, fat, foaming at the mouth, nuts and wearing nothing but a blood-covered slip, attacks the rescue party, chewing a hole in one policeman's neck.  Leaving one of the firemen behind to deal with the now-restrained old lady, the rest of them drag the wounded police officer down to the lobby, only to find out that the health department has sealed the building, allowing no-one out for any reason.  Then the formerly upstairs firefighter plummets down the stairwell with a splat, face nearly chewed off.  And now the screaming starts.  The sickness spreads quickly, picking off the trapped people one by one.  There is a lot of screaming - things get very tense very quickly.  This is all shown as a real time POV movie, filmed on Scott's camera and narrated by Angela as they first hope to bring word to the world of what is happening in the building; later, when the power is shut off to the building, the filming is incidental as Angela and Scott make use of the camera's light, and then night vision scope when the light is broken.  Towards the end, the only things we see are what little is illuminated by the camera's light, and then its night vision.

I had my doubts that Quarantine could be as good as [REC] - it very nearly is, and if I hadn't seen the original Spanish movie, this one would have been very scary indeed.  The remake has made a few changes - what is possessing the apartment building's tenants is a particularly virulent, contagious and fast-acting form of rabies, and the editing is a little more frantic, making it difficult to figure out the action at times - but by and large sticks to the original plan.  I knew what was coming but that didn't stop me from watching through my fingers a couple of times.

Another point in Quarantine's favor is its cast, including Jennifer Carpenter (Dexter) as Angela, Steve Harris (The Practice) as Scott, Jay Hernandez and Johnathon Schaech as the firefighters, and, as some of the tenants/fodder (undeveloped for the most part), Greg Germann (Ally McBeal), Dania Ramirez ("Maya" on Heroes), Denis O'Hare (True Blood and American Horror Story) and Rade Serbedziji ("Boris the Blade" from Snatch).  While I think Spanish Angela was braver as a character, kudos to Jennifer Carpenter for friggin' knocking it out of the park in this movie.  I seriously don't think I've ever seen an actor do "terrified" quite so well, even if the never-ending hysteria was wearying towards the end - I was getting a little concerned for Carpenter that she might pass out from all the hyperventilating.

I would still recommend [REC] to everyone but for folks who are unwilling to deal with subtitles, Quarantine will do you fine in its stead.

Next on the list: Piranha or maybe eXistenZ (Mr. Mouse is hoping October ends soon so I will rent a movie he would also enjoy watching).

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