Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

Hollywood producers cannot resist a good foreign film. You don’t have to go further than The Vanishing to realise that cloning European hits loses everything in translation. Was Michael Haneke’s chilling Funny Games improved by relocating to the US? Judging by box office receipts, the answer is, “Are you kidding?”

Quarantine is the American version of [Rec], an extraordinary Spanish horror flick that scared the actors as much as the audience. John Erick Dowdle’s remake attempts a carbon copy, while erasing subtlety and diminishing the shock value in an attempt to explain the inexplicable. Also, the vampires of the original have become rabies victims that turn into ferocious predators, like the living dead, only faster feeders.

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The naïve, feather-brained presenter of a TV mock doc (Jennifer Carpenter) is at the fire station, preparing to go out with one of the crews in the middle of the night, accompanied by a cameraman. It’s one of those look-at-silly-me-with-the-big-boys-having-an-adventure reality shows that emphasises triviality as its selling point.

Answering a call to an apartment block where there has been some kind of a disturbance, the TV duo, firemen and a rookie cop, whose lack of control would never have been tolerated by the LAPD, discover weird people in blood-soaked nighties, who glower menacingly and attack at will. There seems to be a makeshift lab and a professor of veterinary science on hand, which helps. The result of tests is that the killer loonies are infected with a contagious virus that turns ordinary people into raving cannibals.

The film is shot in the style of Cloverfield, with a handheld camera that appears to be infected with St Vitus’s Dance, which becomes increasingly irritating, as does the hysterical behaviour of the TV presenter. Meanwhile, injecting a mild dose of logic into the plot only increases its incredulity. However, the ghost of [Rec] haunts the production, which is enough to ensure it stays semi-focused upon the horror of being trapped in a vortex of feral rage.

Reviewed on: 28 Nov 2008
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Firemen face deadly virus in LA apartment block.
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Susanna Krawczyk ***

Director: John Erick Dowdle

Writer: John Erick Dowdle, Drew Dowdle, based on the screenplay for [Rec]

Starring: Jennifer Carpenter, Steve Harris, Jay Hernandez, Johnathon Schaech, Columbus Short, Andrew Fiscella, Rade Serbedzija, Greg Germann, Bernard White, Dania Ramirez

Year: 2008

Runtime: 89 minutes

BBFC: 18 - Age Restricted

Country: US


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