Horror remakes seem to be the latest Hollywood trend, just behind comic books and graphic novels. Less than a year after the release of Spanish horror movie [REC], America is served with a remake entitled Quarantine. Despite an incredible turnaround time in filming, Quarantine is a solid horror piece, with the usual genre problems dragging it down.
The concept is a simple one, taking the Cloverfield approach into an apartment complex. Said building is infected with some form of the rabies virus, and inhabitants are slowly being taken over. All of this is filmed from the viewpoint of a news crew who just happens to be covering the firemen who are first responders on the scene.
While Cloverfield took the camcorder style to a massive scale, Quarantine is far smaller. A few rooms, some stairs, and loads of people waiting to be killed. The shaky-camera style is effective, convincingly shot and creepy. It’s more believable with a professional behind the camera as well, adding a slight air of authenticity to the fantastical events.
Where this one goes wrong is character actions. Some of the kills are obviously telegraphed, and you can call them out as soon as the set-up begins. Other times, the characters’ brains apparently turn off, doing dumb things that not even the tension can excuse them from. Dialogue can also feel unnatural despite some fine performances from a largely unknown cast.
Gore is handled effectively, including some fine make-up work. Given the subtle lighting, it nicely hides any flaws without calling attention to the fact that it’s doing so. A couple of solid scares deliver a jump or two.
Short and effective, Quarantine doesn’t reinvent the genre, or do anything different than the original. Since [REC] is still waiting on a US release, this is an admirable attempt to bring the story and style to a wide audience. It’s tense, effective, and gory, everything a horror movie should be.
Despite being shot on a camera fully capable of 1080p, this transfer certainly doesn’t look like it. The video holds no detail, delivering plastic-looking faces and an overly soft style. Thankfully, the black levels are deep and rich throughout, impressive considering the movie has almost no light. Color is also muted intentionally. There are moments of noticeable banding, which could be part of the source, intentional, or the transfer itself. It’s impossible to tell. It’s not much of a hi-def presentation, but then again it probably wasn’t meant to be.
Surprisingly, the disc delivers a phenomenal TrueHD mix. Rarely does a disc so perfectly generate the feeling of “being there.” The constant barrage of sirens and helicopters are completely convincing. It sounds as if the film is literally happening around you. Bass is aggressive even before entering the apartment complex. The roar of the engines on the fire trucks is spectacular. Dialogue can be dim and hard to hear, but like the video, it’s more or less intentional.
Director John Erick Dowdle and writer Drew Dowdle deliver a commentary track that somehow avoids ever mentioning the original. The same goes for a promotional featurette called Locked In that runs just over 10 minutes. Dressing the Infected also carries a promotional feel, but does deliver some behind-the-scenes stuff. Anatomy of a Stunt is a short three-minute piece on a falling stunt late in the film. Some trailers and BD-Live connectivity (with nothing specific to the film itself) are the last of this rather poor extras collection.