Quarantine Review

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Shooting an LA reality show, presenter Angela (Carpenter) and her cameraman (Harris) shadow a crew of firemen on a dullsville evening. But when they follow a call-out to an apartment, they face a virus that turns its hosts into rabid mutants...


just when you thought it was safe to declare Spanish zombie flick
[Rec] one of the year’s best horrors, theHollywoodremake is already upon us. What are the producers after? A fastest remake medal? Columbia clearly see a [Rec] remake as a natural successor to Cloverfield on the reality horror bandwagon, taking a genre staple (a zombie plague) and witnessing it through the immediacy of a handheld camera. And, to keep the wheeze going, [Rec]’s release has been held back until well after Quarantine. For good reason, it turns out. For anybody who’s caught the original, Quarantine’s going to cause a severe attack of the déjà views.

No wonder they got it out so quickly: minus a few tweaks, it’s shot-for-shot, jump-for-jump identical. Even the apartment block’s been replicated with OCD precision. We’re talking Van Sant’s Psycho-precise. It shows the strength of the source that Quarantine is still a clammy, fingernail-scraping experience, strong on sound design which, with its constant background of sirens and choppers, builds a palpable post-9/11 panic. The concept of shady authorities barricading the public in to face a government-made threat fits the national mood and justifies the relocation, but honestly... It’s so slavish you sense John Erick Dowdle isn’t so much directing as handing in somebody else’s homework.

Admittedly, [Rec] itself was hardly unique, an unholy amalgam of Romero homage and Blair Witch, with a dash of Evil Dead. What made it so effective was the crude doc-style that kept all the zombie nonsense queasily feasible (director duo Jaume Balagueró and Paco Plaza even kept sudden deaths secret from the cast to capture authentic panic). That rawness has been lost in translation: the film stock is too crisp, the gore too cinematic, the performances never quite real enough.

And while Jennifer Carpenter shows she hasn’t lost the lungs from her death-rattling screams in The Exorcism Of Emily Rose, she forever feels like an actress playing a reporter. Any edginess has been painted over with a thick slap ofHollywoodgloss, which begs the question: doesn’t a slick remake of a reality horror rather defeat the point?

As a visceral, camera-shuddery ride into foamy-mouthed zombie hell, it’s efficient enough — but if you’ve already seen [Rec], steer clear...