Thursday, October 8, 2015

Film Review: Quarantine (2008)

Quarantine (Review)
United States/2008
Format Viewed For Review: Blu-ray
Netflix Instant: No
Amazon Prime: No
*A 31 Days of Halloween Special Review!

"...offers nothing new and actually loses most of its chilling effectiveness in the transition."

Television reporter Angela Vidal (Jennifer Carpenter) and her cameraman find themselves trapped in a quarantined apartment building while shadowing firefighters for a TV special...

Quarantine is a simple film. The story follows Angela and her cameraman as they shadow the fire department. The firefighters receive a routine call and end up in an apartment building where one tenant has been heard shrieking. To their shock, the police and firefighters are savagely attacked by a woman with bizarre symptoms. Before they can escape the building for help, the TV crew, the remaining police officer and firefighter, and the tenants are quarantined without explanation. They soon find they've been trapped with a deadly and infectious disease. It all leads to a flawed ending.

Well, Quarantine is a flawed film all-around. Usually, I don't mention the original film when reviewing a remake. This time around, it's impossible not to. You see, Quarantine is almost an exact copy of [Rec]. The few changes it does make are either bloated filler or ill-fitted. These small changes actually negatively affect the balance and pacing of the film. However, the bigger issue is the blatant lack of change. Remakes need to balance the original film's narrative with a new director's vision — you don't want to strain too far, but you don't want a frame-by-frame remake. This film doesn't do that. Instead, it uses the same setting, the same characters, the same dialogue, and the same scares, which leads me to my next point.

Quarantine isn't particularly frightening. It does have some gory visuals and jolting jump-scares. It even has some thrilling sequences. Most of these are cut from the original, though... Still, that's not the major issue. Instead, it always felt like something was missing. There was a lack of terror and urgency within the characters, so you don't really feel it. It doesn't effectively transmit the horror from screen to audience. The atmosphere simply isn't there, which causes a lack of immersion. With that said, this feels like just another found-footage horror film. It's not necessarily bad, but it didn't leave a nightmarish impression.

Jennifer Carpenter delivers a wildly inconsistent performance. For most of the film, she's serviceable. However, for the role, she is severely lacking in charm and energy. She does ramp it up for the conclusion, but not the good type of energy — more like the "way overacted" type of energy. I believe the underwhelming cast is the reason this film is not as frightening as the original; or, maybe the Spanish language simply has more energy and conviction. At least the camerawork isn't nauseating. Now, what to say about director John Erick Dowdle? Well, to be perfectly honest, I'm surprised this film even had a director. It feels like Dowdle played [Rec] for the cast and crew and said, "Yeah, just do that." There wasn't much writing, either.

Overall, Quarantine is a decent found footage horror film. It does offer dome decent scares and thrills. I'd say it's a good way to kill 90 minutes. However, if you've seen the original, there is absolutely no reason to watch this shamelessly lazy remake. It offers nothing new and actually loses most of its chilling effectiveness in the transition. The only reason you should watch this film over the remake is if you can't stand subtitles. Even then, I'd strongly urge you to reconsider.

Score: 5/10
Parental Guide: Strong violence and gore.

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