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Monday
Oct132008

Quarantine

Quarantine is what I like to call a “no sense movie” because the characters all lack common sense. I fully understand that horror movies rely on contrivances and illogical behavior to keep the horror coming, but this film takes stupidity to a whole new level. Never before have I sat through a movie and wanted the characters to meet their demises so badly so I could leave the theater. Frankly, they had it coming.

Quarantine utilizes the soon-to-be-annoying use of the first person shaky camera technique, where you only see what the character in the film sees through his or her lens. This tactic has been used in Diary of the Dead, The Blair Witch Project, and the amazing Cloverfield, among others. However, there is a stark contrast between Cloverfield and Quarantine. Cloverfield took you on a wild ride where you never knew what to expect. It boasted excellent performances from its cast and its special effects were dazzling. I’ll never forget seeing the Statue of Liberty’s head rolling down the street in a cloud full of dust, but I’ll eventually forget every second of Quarantine. The film uses the shaky camera technique not as a way to immerse you into the proceedings, but merely as a gimmick to keep production costs low and jump scenes abundant.

The film begins with Angela, played by Jennifer Carpenter, standing outside of a fire station where she and her cameraman will be spending the night. The purpose is to catch some action on film, so if the firefighters get a call, Angela is tagging along. As the alarm blazes and they make their way inside an apartment building where a distress call has been issued, they find a woman who viciously attacks one of the firefighters. As they try to leave and seek help, they find out they are quarantined inside the building and if they try to escape, they will be shot.

And that is precisely where Quarantine got too silly for its own good. This is a film with a lot of potential that could have been truly creepy, but I found it laughable due to the atrocious dialogue and stupidity of the characters. When they initially find that woman, she is pale, bleeding everywhere, and foaming from the mouth. Then she takes a chunk out of a firefighter’s neck. Logic would dictate that the next time you see somebody with similar symptoms, you stay away. But these people continually act oblivious to what is going on, approaching everybody they find regardless of the fact that their eyes are glazed over, they’re dripping in the red stuff, and the group’s previous encounters have all produced violent attacks.

It just seemed like too many things happened in a context that felt forced rather than realistic. Late in the movie, the owner of the apartment building informs the group that there is indeed a way out. The basement has a shaft that will lead them down to the sewers. Well, why didn’t he mention that to begin with, you know, before people started dying? The occurrences happened at the convenience of the screenplay rather than logically.

Even so, all of the blame can’t go to the script. Had the acting been better, it would have made what was going on more believable and thus easier to accept when the script began to hit those contrivances. But the performances were terrible. Jennifer Carpenter played it over the top, shrieking, panting, and wheezing through this entire movie and she began to grate on my nerves. If I were locked in that building with her, I would have off-ed her myself. She’s a poor actress who had one good role in The Exorcism of Emily Rose. Good for her, but it’s time to move on.

There are a few things that can tip you off that a horror movie will be weak. Sequels, remakes, or Americanized versions of foreign films usually tend to not bode well with fans of the genre. Unfortunately, Quarantine falls into one of those categories. It is an Americanized remake of the Spanish film [REC]. For that reason, it may as well have been dead on arrival. I gave it a fair shot and I tried to like it. I really did. But eventually, I grew tired of the nonsensical goings-on and wanted these idiotic characters to meet their justified fate. Had they been smarter, I may have felt otherwise, but let’s be honest. A group of ten year olds could survive longer in that building than the pack of morons in this movie. It’s almost Halloween and we all want a quality horror film that will scare the bejeesus out of us. Quarantine is not that film.

Quarantine receives 1.5/5

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