Monday, October 27, 2008


All I'm going to say is, Thank God I work at a movie theater; otherwise I'd have had to pay my own money to see this dreck.

As part of Hollywood's continued obsession with remaking well-made foreign films, the 2008 picture QUARANTINE is, as I'm sure you're aware, a redo of the Spanish release [REC] (which I'll be unable to view by the end of this project--a shame, since it's supposed to be far superior). Since this crap-sandwich is still playing in theaters, at least until the equally execrable SAW V draws its core demographic away, I'll spare the usual synopsis and get right to the lambasting.

I've never been a big fan of the hand-held style of filmmaking. I didn't mind it in, say, CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST or THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT, mostly because the technique was never a distraction. But its recent use in movies like CLOVERFIELD, 28 WEEKS LATER, and the BOURNE sequels, it ceases to enhance the story and becomes irritating, confusing, and (in this case) nauseating. Note to director John Erick Dowdle: if you're going to place subtle visual clues in your story, steady the goddamn camera long enough for us to fucking see them, okay?

Plot-wise, QUARANTINE does a decent job of setting up its premise, and the the mounting sense of danger is handled well. But once we get to the meat of the story, and its rabid zombie-like creatures are revealed, the film becomes a dull, repetitive cinematic funhouse ride as the characters face monsters in one uninspired scene after another. That in of itself wouldn't be so bad if the movie didn't feel so much like a 28 WEEKS LATER/DAWN OF THE DEAD clone. There isn't anything fresh or unique to be found here, and as soon as the realization settles in, QUARANTINE becomes quite a slog.

Which leads into the film's problematic third act, a blurry, night-vision sequence as star Jennifer Carpenter makes her way through the darkened corridors of the sealed building. What could've been a taut, knuckle-busting segment is reduced to shrill, never-ending boredom, and at the heart of it lies Carpenter's performance. Now, I got the idea she was a fluff-reporter thrust in over her head, so I could forgive her being somewhat weak, but listening to her shriek and cry for twenty-some minutes was interminable. Was her reaction believable and realistic? Certainly, but this is a narrative, not a documentary, and having your protagonist carry on like a five-year-old with a skinned knee is disappointing and annoying.

QUARANTINE is the kind of movie that makes the current genre scene so disheartening. Knowing that a brilliant and frightening film like Michael Dougherty's TRICK R TREAT remains unreleased while the remake-and-SAW sausage factory rolls on just makes me sad, and more than a little angry. And judging from the reaction I saw at work the last couple of weekends, I don't see it changing soon.

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