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  Publicity Stills of
(Courtesy of Columbia TriStar)

Genre: Horror/Thriller
Director: John Erick Dowdle
Cast: Jennifer Carpenter, Jay Hernandez, Columbus Short, Greg Germann, Steve Harris, Dania Ramirez, Rade Sherbedgia, Jonathon Schaech
RunTime: 1 hr 29 mins
Released By: Columbia TriStar
Rating: NC-16 (Some Gore And Disturbing Scenes)
Official Website: http://www.sonypictures.com/movies/quarantine/

Opening Day: 27 November 2008


Television reporter Angela Vidal (Jennifer Carpenter) and her cameraman (Steve Harris) are assigned to spend the night shift with a Los Angeles Fire Station. After a routine 911 call takes them to a small apartment building, they find police officers already on the scene in response to blood curdling screams coming from one of the apartment units. They soon learn that a woman living in the building has been infected by something unknown. After a few of the residents are viciously attacked, they try to escape with the news crew in tow, only to find that the CDC has quarantined the building. Phones, internet, televisions and cell phone access have been cut-off, and officials are not relaying information to those locked inside. When the quarantine is finally lifted, the only evidence of what took place is the news crew's videotape.

Movie Review:

Recently Golden Village cinemas had been screening two trailers that look eerily the same. Not similar but almost exactly same shot for shot trailer. The only difference was that the leading lady and the entire cast were different and it was in a different language. One of them was for [.REC] and the other one is for this movie Quarantine. It shouldn’t be too difficult to figure out that the latter is the Hollywood remake. However, the eerie bit is that has the Hollywood Remaking machine been churning out products faster now or are the original foreign language films slower in reaching our shores?

Before any more digression, let’s focus on this remake which had seen more thumb downs than up when compared to the original.

Usually Hollywood remakes (particularly the horror genre) had been dismissed from the day the project had been approved, as a pale inferior product compare to the original one. A couple of factors such as the Hollywood version normally overly simplified the film subjects or events to cater to those Americans who are too lazy to read subtitles or think for that matter. A lot of intricate matters had been watered down to satisfy the lowest denominator which to movie lovers is not exactly a good thing.

But such pre judgments are sometime unfair for a film product before it’s given a chance to present itself and for that matter, I am pleased to inform that this review is untainted from the original film, [.REC].

Let’s start with what was impressive in this 'third' shaky cam film after Blair Witch and Cloverfield.

In certain action sequences, the 'reality moments' captured by the shaky cam were quite remarkable. It makes one wonder how they did it. On moment, a deranged lady come charging out of nowhere and in one shaking follow through shot, we see that woman plummeted to her painful death. It’s kinetic shot that really wonder what kind of editing was done for that kind of shot and it was really effective mean to translate the horror over the screen.

That’s about all the good stuff I could remember about Quarantine.

Once again, it’s excessive shaky cam that made me and those around me turn our heads away from the big screen. I know the purpose of the shaky cam cinematography was to capture the essence of being in the mess but over doing it can also achieve the opposite effect. If the camera man started his shaky cam during the chaotic moments, it’s understandable but for the shaking to start when he was supposedly recording for TV broadcast program, it makes one wonder how much useable footage could be handed over to the TV editor.

Then the explanation of the cause of ruckus happening in that building was rather silly. Sometime the reason behind all the haunting shouldn’t be spelt out clearly as the film makers didn’t have the time during the movie to back the reason up properly and if the viewer don’t buy the reason, the whole affair could come across as a ridiculous time waster.

There’s also the manner how deadly infection is handled. If you could look beyond all the scares and thrill in this movie, the poor handling of the duration needed to infect the victims would stood up as a sore thumb. Without giving too much away, just take note how long the first few victims took to get infected and how long the others took near the finale. To sum it out, logic in this movie became illogical when it’s time to throw everything in for the big finale.

Lastly, the casting of well known American artists in this small budget flick was a big detraction for such shaky cam flicks. As a low budget flick that has the reality feel to it, when the easily recognizable Greg Germann (Richard Fish from Ally McBeal) appears on screen, the whole debacle felt very made up. Gone are any suspension of it could have happen to normal people like you and me.

Was it a good idea to screen both the original movie and the remake in between such short time span? The only people that probably would catch both movies are film bluff who wants to compare the differences between them and those who can’t be bothered to check or read up more. Anyway it’s horror so it should do fairly well in the Singapore market as it’s obvious that most Singaporeans can’t get enough of their horror fix. But if you want to save that few bucks in the midst of recession, skip this or wait for the rental. Quarantine will translate equally 'well' on the big and small screen.

Movie Rating:

(Like any Quarantine, this is one you don’t want to be stuck in)

Review by Richard Lim Jr


. [REC] (2007)

. Doomsday (2008)

. Cloverfield (2008)

. Disturbia (2007)

. 28 Weeks Later (2007)

. Resident Evil: Extinction (2007)

. Planet Terror (2007)

. Land of the Dead (2005)

. The Devil's Chair DVD (2008)


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