Quarantine is a 2008 remake of the spanish film [REC]. It’s directed by John Erick Dowdle and written by him and Drew Dowdle. The plot is extremely simple. A reporter (Jennifer Carpenter of Dexter) and her cameraman (Steve Harris, most recently appearing on Friday Night Lights) are spending a shift shadowing the LA Fire Department. They follow them to a call of a medical emergency and quickly the situation spins out of control leading to them as well as the firemen, some police officers, and the buildings inhabitants all being quarantined. It’s shot in a first person point of view as if everything you see is what the cameraman caught, similar to a Blair Witch Project or Cloverfield.
Right off the bat I expected nothing out of this movie. I watched it because I was bored and it was on Netflix Instant Watch. I’d seen ads for it but they never attracted me towards this in any way. But man was I surprised. First off the one thing I did expect was that this would be a low budget project, and while it certainly can’t be considered a huge budget, it was still a 12 million dollar film. You only grasp that this movie perhaps is working with some money towards later scenes but it sort of made the experience even more unexpected.
The movie starts off moving at a tremendously fast pace. The first 15 minutes all basically setting up the reporter character and the firemen is fun and feels like only maybe 5 minutes. This pace really never lets up. There’s of course some much needed breathing room, but I never felt bored or that the movie had run it’s course until the end. This is certainly a good thing for any movie.
I just want to take a break before going any further and explain that I tend to like these kind of first person type movies. They’re a great way to break some conventions of genre and do interesting things and when done well they often feel like a ride more than a film. That is of course when they’re done right. They can easily be done wrong. That’s the other thing I like about these movies. A lot of the more recent ones are very technically complicated, requiring tremendous camera operation, a great director of photography, incredibly precise and imperceptible edits, and some difficult choreography, yet it has to all go completely unnoticed by the audience. Quarantine does this very well.
I’m also a big horror fan. I really love the genre, but movies don’t scare me very easily. It’s usually not easy to get a jump out of me let alone a feeling of actually being scared. Well the scared part still applies here, I never felt fear really, but there were plenty of times I found myself jumping out of my seat. This movie really is a thrill ride. Also as a horror fan I appreciated the lots of gore used throughout the film.
What I didn’t appreciate about the movie, and really my sole complaint was that the acting was overdone. It seems sort of an epidemic with these types of movies and overacting and I’m not exactly sure why, but even the best suffer from it. Jennifer Carpenter’s character does come off as instantly likable in the early scenes which really helps draw you into the film, which is very important and I feel like John Erick Dowdle did a good job with his directing duties. Of course later in the film you will want to smack her and tell her to shut up, but for most of the movie she’s likable, and the same goes for the rarely seen but constant presence of Steve Harris’ cameraman, as well as the whole cast.
Overall this is a fast moving, bloody, violent, well made horror film that will draw you in and keep your attention. I highly recommend it.