Quarantine Horror Movie Review
If you've been reading reviews on this site for long you know we're not exactly fans of the shaky cam or first person films such as Cloverfield. Skaky cam horror films to me just seem lazy. It feels like these are directors that don't know how to tell an effective and scary horror story without putting the camera in the action as one of the characters. Quarantine is a film that manages to be scary and suspenseful even though its shot this way. The film is based on the Spanish film call REC and even though I've not had the chance to see the original I'm told Quarantine is almost exactly the same film.
The film is completely shot from the point of view of the camera man and reporter from the local news. Steve Harris, who plays Scott, the camerman, who we rarely see, and reporter Angela, played very well by Jennifer Carpenter from Showtime's Dexter are spending the night shadowing a fire brigade. The fist 15 minutes of the film are made up of the light and fluffy stuff you expect to see on you local news. We're introduced to Jake (Jay Hernandez) and George (Johnathon Schaech), 2 firemen who show us around the house and explain what they do. Finally they do get a call and have to travel to a nearby apartment building. Jake and George are brought in to help a woman out of her apartment that may need medical assistance. What they end of finding is a woman who appears to be infected with something. Things start to fall apart pretty fast as one of the cops and paramedic, George, are attacked by the woman and she's shot by the second cop Danny (Columbus Short).
Most people will have it figured out as to what the infection is in this first scene, however it doesn't take away from it. When the group tries to get out of the building with the attacked fireman they discover they've been locked in. The CDC has arrived and they have quarantined the entire building. When the CDC finally does enter the building to examine those infected the obvious is confirmed and we're told what exactly the infection is and how it spreads. However the men from the CDC don't really improve the situation and soon all hell is breaking loose and more people get infected. There's some pretty horrific sequences throughout this film that are very effective. One of the best is the final scene of the film, shot in night vision, and completely ruined by the poster art that gives it all away but its still a very tense and scary scene. Jennifer Carpenter does a very good job at being scared in the final moments and the sequence is very effective.
This is one of the few movies I've seen where the shaky cam effect actually seems to work in the films favor. That said however I still feel that this movie could have been done as a traditional film and still been as effective under the right direction. The camera work manages to be fairly steady without causing as much whiplash as Cloverfield or Diary of the Dead. However there's a lot of zooming in and out that seems to be there just to try to make things feel more tense and instead it just feels irritating.
The characters aren't whiny film students or yuppie party goers so that helps a lot in actually caring what happens to them. My biggest issue with Cloverfield is the characters were unlikable, same goes for Diary of the Dead. Don't give us unsympathetic characters that are a bunch of douches. Is that too much to ask?
As far as shaky cam movies go this is one of the best. There are moments in this film that will grab you by throat and others that will keep you on the edge of you seat. Its one of the best horror films of 2008 and is worth checking out.
3.5 out of 5 Bloody Axes