Quarantine (2008)
Directed by John Erick Dowdle

Starring Columbus Short Jay Hernandez Jennifer Carpenter Jonathan Schaech Steve Harris

There are two ways to look at "Quarantine": one as entertainment, the other as art.

As a work of art, the film is a colossal failure because it is not only a remake of the Spanish horror film "Rec" -- which hadn't even had a release in the U.S. by the time "Quarantine" had hit screens -- but a near carbon copy, duplicating all the best shocks and even the final terrifying shot of the original movie. It's like a well-known comedian that uses all the best jokes of a lesser-known one and expects to take credit for it.

In some ways "Quarantine" is better than "Rec," not only xeroxing all its shocks but managing to add more. The lead actress, Jennifer Carpenter, last seen by horror fans in "The Exorcism of Emily Rose," puts in an amazing performance as the doomed newscaster. She's a great actress and captures more of a sense of hysterical terror than the lead actress in the original "Rec". Thanks to its bigger budget, "Quarantine" manages to pack more atmosphere. It has creepier sets.

But if it's originality you're looking for, you won't find it here. The movie obviously wouldn't have even been made in the U.S. were it not for the success of previous mockumentary horror movies, most notably the mega-smash "Cloverfield."

As I mentioned earlier, Carpenter plays the role of the newswoman from the original Spanish film. She and her cameraman have come to a fire station to film a newscast about firefighters. With a more ribald sense of humor than the original, Carpenter is jokingly sexually harassed by the firefighters before an alarm finally goes off and the crew has to head out to an emergency: an apartment complex where residents heard screams from an elderly resident.

The woman has gone mad, foaming at the mouth and looking, well, like a zombie. She of course brutally attacks a police officer. Within minutes, crews outside have sealed off the building, trapping the firefighters, news crew, a police officer and the residents inside. It isn't long before the officer becomes infected and acts in a similar "rabid"-like fashion.

We learn from a vet who happens to live in the building that the symptoms of the victims does mirror rabies but it takes effect of minutes instead of months -- not unlike the "rage virus" [CORRECTED from original "reaper virus" on Oct. 14] from the "28 Days Later" movies. Attempts at getting out of the building are fruitless with military rifles aimed at anyone who tries to exit. It isn't long before the illness begins spreading from person to person and most of the people trapped inside become homicidally rabid -- with a small band of survivors struggling to hang on.

We're all familiar with horror mockumentaries by now, and "Quarantine" is a solid entry in this growing subgenre. There is something scary about shaking cameras -- or the inability to see everything in a frame that you feel the need to see -- and "Quarantine" exploits this to maximum effect. As you feel for its characters as they come up with long-shot strategies to survive their hopeless ordeal, you know you're watching an effective horror movie. Director John Erick Dowdle -- and director Jaume Balagueró, who helmed the original -- know their craft.

Given that the director also helmed the unreleased -- but critically acclaimed -- mockumentary horror "The Poughkeepsie Tapes," he was an ideal candidate when he was commissioned to remake "Rec." Hopefully "Poughkeepsie" and the original "Rec" will see their own release dates in the U.S. soon.

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-- Review by Lucius Gore


Posted by Chris on October 12, 2008
I'm sorry but I found the original actress to be a superior one over the american girl, for christ sakes she even won an award for her acting in Spain. This remake is no way better than [REC], that one is already a classic among critics and fans by it's own merit, this cash in american piece of shit is gonna be forgotten at the end of the day.

Posted by Tyrant242 on October 13, 2008
I am going to go see this movie and I hope to see the original as well. But if this website is going to make claims of credibility, they need to get their movies right. the "Reaper" virus was in Doomsday, the "Rage" virus was the nasty in 28 day/weeks later

Posted by tupadre on October 15, 2008
This bad remake sucks monkey balls there was not any good reason to be made original always better if you don't have the talent to create something cool, you're lost

Posted by David D on October 19, 2008
I went to see this one and it is god awful. Boring, no suspense, no scares, nothing startling, just a predictable mess of swirling hand held camera blah.

Posted by Lucius Bore on October 20, 2008
I want my money back. I went and saw easily forgotten snoozer and talk about weak. THe first half was down right dull and the second was just as bad with some really bad 28 weeks later want-a-be bullshit. The shaky camera is extremely annoying and never even focuses on anything.

Posted by Stop-the-Madness on October 21, 2008
SHocks? What Shocks? Lucius are you one of the guys that is scared something is under your bed? I was excited about The Ploughkeepsie Tapes but after seeing this waste of time I have pretty much lost interest. Probably why we have not seen it released yet.

Posted by John K. on October 21, 2008
Just got back from seeing it and am fairly impressed. What the hell WAS that thing in the basement at the end? SPOILER ALERT: A mutated rabid psycho bioterrorist in diapers?? Some decent scares, a good amount of gore, and it comes in at a compact 90 minutes. I'll check it out on DVD so I can freeze-frame some of the herky-jerky stuff I didn't get a good look at. in the theater Not bad at all.

Posted by Greenlite on December 9, 2008
I saw Quarantine first before seeing REC. REC's creativity will become a classic. But the remake was able to improve on the visual & sound aspects of the film; and the American building was more interesting for me. Acting wise Jennifer was superior, you can sense the fear by just watching her. The Spanish girl was exaggerating her movement & tone but maybe that's just the way Spanish actresses perform. Everyone's like WTF with the remake's ending, but isn't it the same as the original? People hate the remake cuz it's a remake, & american. But it's good to have a great story with improve visual and sound effect isn't it? I'd say this is an excellent remake cuz it brings the same tension as REC; u'll understand when you watch The Ring and The Grudge first, then watch the Jap version, then the "WTF's wrong with the remake" statement would be more justified :p

Posted by Omar Nokrashy on January 10, 2009
i think QUARANTINE is a great horror movie......one of the best horror movies i have ever seen......and the idea of the camera is very effective, and makes you feel as if you're inside with them

Posted by Melanie H on June 8, 2009
If anyone remembers the scene where; the firefighter falls from the staircase. Everyone in that hall, That screamed, was there real screams. It wasn't planned and the actors weren't told about it. The director wanted it to be Raw emotion from that point on. Yes, Quarantine may have improved visual and sound but Rec seemed the most real because of the original actress. She just seem to be 'LESS' exaggerating than Jennifer to both her movements and tone. For some reason Jennifer seemed too exaggerating because of the fact, she freaked out and screamed over every single tiny thing, and the original actress did a lot less than this. and as you know Rec was filmed in an actual building; giving it more of that originality. Quarantine was filmed on a built set, even on low budget it made Rec as I said seem more 'actual than Quarantine' One more thing, from my own personal experience; I would have to say that Rec had the most suspense and shock 'factor' than Quarantine. Literally It felt like my heart was gonna beat out of my chest over so much suspense while watching Rec. I didn't get much of this from Quarantine. Even though saying this they are both good movies and I'd watch them over and over again. =)

Posted by kitsua on June 24, 2009
Nice review Melanie. I just watched Quarantine without having heard a single thing about it. I found it to be a really fun watch, brilliantly directed and edited, with a good cast and innovative and sparse soundtrack. A solid horror and a success in it's own right, IMO. Now I hear that it's based on a (supposedly) better Spanish film, so now I get to go and enjoy that too!

Posted by Marisela on July 8, 2009
I saw [Rec] on Youtube, on a small screen and it scared me so much I woke up in the middle of night with a racing heart. Even though I was pretty scared while watching it, I was glued to the screen. Great suspense and great acting by Manuela Velasco. She was much better than Jennifer Carpenter. I agree with Melanie, Carpenter's acting was over exaggerated and became annoying. I feel like Quarantine tried too hard to develop the relationships between characters. I feel this is was mistake. If the movie is supposed to be reality caught on tape, then don't make the mistake of pretending it's a traditional movie and try to develop character relationships--what I mean is, since it's supposed to be 'reality' then I expect to not see the whole picture, because we are experiencing it all from the POV of the camera man. In reality we don't make the effort to demonstrate our relationships constantly. I can accept unexplained or cut short moments in a movie like [Rec]. And I didn't like that the Quarantine camera man was so much more present, or in front of the camera. [Rec] was fantastic in making the audience experience the evening through Pablo the camera man. Always seeing through his eyes created immediacy, so that we felt like we were there. Having the Quarantine camera man put down the camera and get in front of it so often broke that illusion for me. I also feel like Quarantine tried to explain the cause of illness too much, and the ending with the cult--that was lame. In [Rec], not knowing the cause until the end (that it was a mutating virus that had been mistaken for possession) was more interesting and not knowing was scarier. I thought [Rec] by far was the better movie.

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