Action (Horror, Zombie)
Running Time: 89 minutes
Starring: Jennifer Carpenter, Jay Hernandez
Directed By: John Erick Dowdle
Rating: 5 out of 10
A bunch of people are quarantined within a building with an unknown disease that makes people super aggressive.
So you might be questioning the zombie label to this film. I know this might be blasphemous to zombie nerds out there. The movie plays out so similar to a zombie film though that I thought it warranted the label. So if this bothers you I apologize but really stop being so stiff. Quarantine is the story of a news crew doing a piece on some local fire firefighters. The news crew tags along with the firefighters to a call at an apartment building for a medical emergency. As they assess the situation they get shut inside with the residents as the CDC has quarantined the building without explanation. The trapped people must get to the bottom of what is making the residents sick and violently aggressive before everyone becomes infected with the unknown disease.
This film is based on the wildly popular Spanish film called REC. It plays out in much the same manner as REC with an obvious bigger budget. Now a bigger budget doesn’t necessarily mean better but I liked and disliked both films for different reasons. All though they are almost scene for scene the same movie they come across as different films. Fans of the handheld/found footage style will be pleased as that is how this movie is shot. Quarantine starts off with an almost gratuitous opening scene. We get to see the news crew and firefighters interact at the fire station. The intent is for you to build interest and buy into the obvious main characters. If I wasn’t so against it I would almost say fast forward to when they arrive at the building as the opening is a tedious watch. You will never care for the characters in any emotional way so why add an opening with filler background material is a mystery to me. The childish banter and interactions between the characters is hard to sit through but it is worth the wait for what is to come. As they arrive at the building where the emergency call originated from the film really picks up. An encounter with an old woman suffering obvious signs of distress and dementia is chilling. Her unpredictable movements and animal like grunts sets the tone for a film with some great scenes. The shaky camera work only adds to the tension within the building. The residents are scared, the firefighters are scared, and you will be scared as the disease takes hold. They are trapped inside a building with something that turns people into aggressive monsters and it is a cool premise.
The acting is barely passable in this film. At times I found it to be great but for the most part it was below average which really hurt this film. I found during the downtimes when the characters were conversing they seemed fake and indifferent. When they were scared I found most performances forced and unbelievable. The news reporter Angela was played by Jennifer Carpenter. There is something about her that I don’t really like. I know it is superficial but her weird mouth and eyes set too far apart is distracting to me. She does an okay job when she is scared so I will give her a passing grade. Firefighter Jake played by Jay Hernandez is only okay as well. He has the look of a firefighter but doesn’t really deliver in the films key moments. The rest of the cast is a smorgasbord of cultural demographics found rarely outside of the T.V. show Glee. It is added to add conflict but was glaringly stupid.
As the film progresses I found myself wrapped up in how they are going to try and survive the disease and escape the building. The violence is painfully abrupt and will have you saying WTF in a couple of surprising occasions. The characters interactions are so stupid though that this film never gets where it needs to be. After one woman gets violent and then others start showing the same symptoms you wouldn’t hang out right next to said person. The film is like that from start to finish. They are trapped in a building that raises the CDC’s concern and yet they mingle together like on holiday. When the characters are not making dumb decisions they are constantly bickering over stupid things. The contrived dialogue gets boring really quickly in this film. Lastly the film spends hours building up the tension only to see the situation inside the building breakdown in a matter of minutes. The total lack of attention to time is silly. As the film gets to a pretty scary but ultimately stupid ending the film never really won me over. Yes the camera work is cool (when they are not constantly reminding you why they are filming everything) and when the frights do come they are above average and do have elements of the Dawn of the Dead remake. People are bitten and blood flows freely but it just never fully connects with the viewer.
Director John Erick Dowdle botched this film in many places. His terrible opening sequence and poor casting choices made this film fail when it should have worked. The found footage camera work is cool and the premise is sound. A virulent disease that turns people into vicious monsters has a large built in audience but he just couldn't capture the right elements to make this a decent horror. Sure this film is entertaining and at times great it just doesn’t do enough right to make it worthwhile.
I cannot recommend this film well at times entertaining there are too many flaws to make it sound.
T Factor + If you like zombie films this could score higher on the rating scale.
T Factor – If you do not like handheld shot films then this could score lower on the rating scale.
If you liked this film reel recommendations: REC, Chernobyl Diaries.