Screen Gems

Do you love amateur home movies? Do you love watching film where you’re not sure who’s talking because the person holding the camera decided to put it down to get a beer, or gave you a five minute clip of their feet because they forgot to turn the camera off while they were strolling around? Do you love to see rehashed versions of the zombie plague, and wished someone would try to waste time explaining another way this “could happen to you,” legitimately? Are you a conspiracy theorist? If you said yes to all of these questions, you still probably shouldn’t watch Quarantine.

Quarantine is a remake of the Spanish movie Rec, filmed way back in 2007. The premise is simple: a lowly news reporter (played by Jennifer Carpenter) and her cameraman (Steve Harris) are shooting a special interest story on a fire-house in Los Angeles. After some rowdy behavior and horrible jokes, we learn that all of the firemen want to get into Carpenter’s pants. The firemen get a medical call, and they rush to the rescue, with reporting crew on-hand. However, this isn’t a routine medical call, and the group must try to survive as the government keeps them secured in an apartment building while they and the residents succumb to a fatal, zombie-inducing disease.

Where to begin? The story itself isn’t all that bad. As with any zombie story, there is usually some asinine way that a zombie plague starts, whether it be a biological weapon, voodoo, or “it just happens.” So I can deal with the explanation of an accelerated form of rabies that makes people crazy and want to eat other people, even if it has already been done (see 28 Days Later and 28 Weeks Later). However, the initial scene at the fire-house, where everything is normal as the news reporter covers her in-depth analysis of the lives of firemen, drags on forever. It must be only 10 minutes of the movie, but it felt like an hour. You’d think maybe they could show some basic character traits to develop later on in the movie, but no, they get around that rather quickly.

Fighting zombies, and still has her microphone clipped to her shirt. Hardcore.
Fighting zombies, and still has her microphone clipped to her shirt. Hardcore. (Screen Gems)

The camera-work really killed this movie. I know, it’s meant to put you in the movie, and make things more suspenseful when you don’t know what’s really going on. However, it’s been done too much in such a short time, and better every single time. Cloverfield, Diary of The Dead, the Spanish version of this film, all following suit of The Blair Witch Project . It didn’t make things suspenseful. All it did was let the special effects crew be lazy with the gore, disrupt any notion of a story-line, and give me a headache.

Zombie “O” Face (Screen Gems)

The only good thing to come out of this camera-view narration was when the cameraman bashes a zombie in the face, giving us a great view of its dental work. We could have had that, if they broke up the camera view a bit. Maybe mixing it into some normal shooting would have been better for the movie. It would have helped some views that could have made this movie (such as the dog and guy in the elevator scene) and helped to fix some scenes that were more annoying than interesting (such as the opening of the movie at the fire-house.) There was also a point that we saw a topless zombie in a diaper. I thought, “Hey, at least we’re getting some full frontal nudity,” until my friends corrected me that it was actually an old man.

To be fair, the acting wasn’t horrible. The apartment residents, cops, doctors, and the cameraman did a great job of keeping things suspenseful, as much as they could with a hand-held camera anyway. Jennifer Carpenter was another matter. Overreactions of her as a news reporter at the beginning made it seem that she was overreacting throughout the movie, in order to make her video a piece of sensationalism. Even when we see her come to terms with the reality of what’s going on after Mrs. Espinoza is shot, it seems trite. Maybe it is because she keeps looking at the damn camera.

On a scale from “Waste of Time” to “Movie Collection” (1-5), I give this movie “Some Waste of Time” (1.5) It may fare better in a dark living room in a Manhattan apartment building than in a movie theater. It certainly wasn’t worth the 10 bucks.


By Pat Emmel

Patrick began collecting a library of VHS tapes, DVDs, and CDs when he was young, and continues to build a library that could easily double as a video store and/or a revitalized Tower Records.