by Evan ODell 2/17/09
(2008) Directed by John Erick Dowdle. Originally written by Jaume Balagueró, Luis Berdejo, and Paco Plaza. Adapted for the American remake by John Erick Dowdle and Drew Dowdle. Starring Jennifer Carpenter, Steve Harris, Jay Hernandez, Johnathon Schaech, and Columbus Short.
This was an amazing turn around for an American remake. The original zombie picture, [REC], was from Spain. It was released in November of 2007. The American remake is released barely eleven months later.
This is more of the shaky cam reality style film that thanks to BLAIR WITCH, CLOVERFIELD, and DIARY OF THE DEAD, I imagine we're all growing sick of. Though admittedly, the original, beat CLOVERFIELD and DIARY OF THE DEAD to the theatrical market. There is plenty of reason to dislike shaky cam, what with the shakiness, the soft focus, the limited depth range of focus (either close or far but seldom both), sometimes even finding focus. Soft focus was a conceit they played up quite a bit at first, but while it was still plenty shaky, there was less soft focus in the building. I really feel that [REC] utilized shaky cam rather effectively to further the suspense.
The complete lack of music on the soundtrack for Quarantine really heightens the tension. Through much of the film, the only sounds are helicopters, sirens, screaming, running, hyperventilating, objects crashing to the ground. It really makes for an exhausting experience.
So how does the American remake measure up to the original? Fairly well, actually. The origin story in the American version is different than the supernatural development near the end of the original. Though that neither makes it better or worse to me, just different. Much of how you view this remake hinges on Jennifer Carpenter's performance. I definitely enjoyed the original better, but part of that could just be because I saw it first. Jennifer Carpenter, of Dexter on Showtime, has quite the set of lungs on her and she screams plenty in the final act. And that can get annoying quickly. The question I have to ask myself is if I believe their motivations. I don't think the average person is well versed in horror movie tropes, because certainly nobody in the movie acts like they've ever seen a zombie film.
Angela Vidal (Jennifer Carpenter) and Scott Percival (Steve Harris) are an electronic news gathering team assigned to trail firefighters, Jake (Jay Hernandez) and Fletch (Johnathon Schaech) on a night's duty. The firefighters get called to an apartment house where a woman upstairs is screaming. The police are on the scene and some of the residents are panicking. Once they breakdown the door to the apartment, a dog runs out and they find the resident, Mrs. Espinoza, covered in blood and foaming at the mouth. When one of the police is bit, they try to get him to help and find that the building has been locked down and quarantined. After that, the tension builds and builds in the apartment house sealed off from the outside world and under siege from the inside.