Sunday, October 19, 2008

Movie Review #27: Quarantine

Directed by John Erick Dowdle

Hand-held camera horror was all the hype after Blair Witch Project. Cloverfield came through for horror fans like a first-hand 9-11 themed Godzilla film. Even the legendary George Romero gave it a go with Diary of the Dead. But no film has done it quite like Quarantine. I've been trying to get my hands on the original (REC) but haven't had much luck. So we'll start with the American remake . . .

The film starts off very slow, with Jennifer Carpenter (Dexter's sister on the hit Showtime series) playing the role of a news reporter shadowing a team of Los Angeles firemen for the evening. The beginning is playful and innocent, until an emergency call comes in and the men respond. Upon arrival at an apartment building, the firemen with cameraman in tow knock on the door of an old female resident. Once inside, she is found trembling in a nightgown covered in blood. She then attacks one of the fireman and madness ensues. Residents are found throughout the building pale and drooling, feeding off the other residents. The victims are hunted down one by one throughout the film, which is mostly presented in long shots and lots of shaky camera work that literally leave you on the edge of your seat the entire film.

The film succeeds in a number of ways by making you feel like you are there in the building. The terror is very real, the darkness consumes the characters and creates a feeling of unrest without any sound effects or ominous musical tones. The horror comes from the unknown - what could possibly be lurking around each corner or behind the door of one of the apartments. The most terrifying aspect of the film is that help is right outside, with helicopter lights circling the perimeter and shining through the windows. The police seal off the area and claim that all the residents have been evacuated, leaving the unaffected to fight for their lives amongst the infected.

A fresh take in the zombie horror category, Quarantine stands out as one of the best horror films of 2008. I'm sure REC is twice as good, but this film has restored my faith in remakes. There's nothing better than a horror film without a happy ending. Just go to the theater and see for yourself. 5 toes all around from the Big Toe Blog!

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