I actually meant to see another film, Waltz With Bashir, on this particular cinema trip. Unfortunately the cinema had already stopped showing it, after only a few nights. That’s rather rubbish on their part, but at least there was something else on instead. That something else was Quarantine, a remake of the Spanish movie [REC].
I haven’t seen [REC], but apparently Quarantine is incredibly similar. It’s one of those movies that’s hard to describe without revealing too much about the plot, but I’ll provide the set up.
Right, so the movie kicks off with a pretty simple but suitable intro, with a journalist doing a few takes of the introduction to her show, Night Shift. This seems to be a reality TV show in the same vein as Cops, and she’s going to be following a couple of firemen. Like that other video diary movie (is that the genre name?) Cloverfield, it starts off with not too much happening, with the journalist simply showing what fire stations are like – I should point out that this is a million times more interesting and less annoying than the Cloverfield party. She gets introduced to the two guys she’ll be following, and then there’s a call out.
They rock up at an old apartment building, go inside, things go tits up and they find themselves barricaded in by the authorities outside. From this point the building’s residents, the firemen, the journalist and her camera man try to figure out what’s going on and if there’s any means of escape. This being a horror movie, the cast naturally gets picked off one at a time.
The cast is mostly ok; you’ve got Richard from Ally McBeal and Judith from Two and a Half Men amongst the buildings residents, and Jay Hernandez as one of the firemen. The latter is your typical ‘protector’ character, like Michael Biehn in The Terminator and Aliens. He comes across as slightly naive to begin with but turns into a hard as nails killing machine as he beats the crap out of bad things with a sledge hammer. The upside is that the characters all play their parts well, and all come across as believable, but the downside is there isn’t a lot of development, so it’s hard to care about too many of them.
The real reason to watch the film is for the tension and fear factor, which goes into overdrive in the final third. Things start off slowly and build up over the course of the film; I felt quite detached to begin with but was graduall sucked in as the movie went on, and the final scene is just ridiculously tense.
I jumped a couple of times. There’s something that happens near the end that gave me such a fright I felt a bit silly for being duped. It’s gory but not gratuitously so, and it’s more likely that the sound effects will make you wince more than the visuals – there’s a bit of skull drilling, and a really satisfying splat as a result of the sledge hammer.
I mentioned before that it’s a video diary movie like Cloverfield, therefore it must employ everyone’s favourite technique to make a film seem extra real – the Shaky Cam. It mostly works well, and is used quite inventively at times – the very end features a truly great moment. It does succumb to the old spaz-out that often happens in these movies, and it makes some of the more hectic scenes hard to follow, but those moments are rare. I think it was used very well – more inventive and easier to follow than Cloverfield.
Quarantine is an engaging, intense horror with some good scares and an intriguing plot. It doesn’t have a lot of depth, but I’m not sure it really needs any more than it has. It reminded me a bit of The Descent, not in terms of plot but it has a similar tone and feel to it. I’d recommend to anyone – not including kids, of course.