Quarantine was better the first time I watched it.
So… what was different between the first time I watched Quarantine and the latest? Well, when I first saw Quarantine, I hadn’t been spoiled by the recent explosion in the Found Footage genre. I don’t think I’d seen Paranormal Activity yet, and I certainly hadn’t seen its three–soon to be five–sequels. I hadn’t seen The Blair Witch Project, Apollo 18, The Bay, Chernobyl Diaries, Cloverfield, The Devil Inside, The Fourth Kind, The Last Exorcism, or VHS. Nowadays, though, I’m pretty well-versed in found footage films, or at least most of the recent and mainstream ones.
I also hadn’t seen this movie’s sequel, Quarantine 2: Terminal, which I hated. I hated it so much, in fact, that I fear I got a bit of a skewed perspective of the first movie. After watching Terminal, my memory of Quarantine seemed amazing by comparison.
But Quarantine is far from an amazing film. So here’s what it is instead.
Quarantine is the US remake of the Spanish film [REC], which I have not seen but intend to watch as soon as I can get my hands on a copy (I’ve been trying to do so for a while now, so… not particularly optimistic). It stars Jennifer Carpenter, who you may recognize from The Exorcism of Emily Rose or Dexter. Now, I have not seen Dexter and don’t have a very good recollection of Emily Rose… but Carpenter’s acting here leaves a lot to be desired, and it’s the first strike against Quarantine. Perhaps I’m being unfair and it’s the writing, directing, or editing that’s at fault, but Carpenter’s character, a young reporter tasked with interviewing a department of firefighters who finds herself in over her head when they lead her into a CDC quarantine, jumps around a lot in terms of emotions. She’ll be perfectly calm when she should be running in the opposite direction, and when she does become angry or frightened, it comes across as two-dimensional and overacted. Upon my most recent viewing of the film, I found myself laughing at such scenes, all of which were clearly intended to scare me.
Ultimately, the majority of the time I spent watching Quarantine involved me yelling instructions at the idiots involved in the titular quarantine. They are in ludicrously dire circumstances–the type of situation conspiracy theorists have nightmares about–and choose to bumble about wasting time and energy by yelling at each other, trying to find and care for the people who are clearly infected with whatever disease got the building shut down (hint: it’s always zombie!rabies), and misplacing their weapons. And, hell, it’s the main character who ends up getting some of the last surviving characters killed. She’s clearly only there because the movie needed a pretty woman; if the cameraman and the vet had just ditched her while they had the chance, they seemed smart and capable enough to actually have a chance to survive. Instead…
If you have any desire to lecture a bunch of movie morons after a Twenty Minutes with Jerks opening, Quarantine is the movie for you. Otherwise, if you just want to see some virus-zombies, get yourself a copy of 28 Days Later; if you’re looking for found footage instead, I really advise starting with Paranormal Activity instead.
Me, I’ll keep looking for a copy of [REC]. It’s got to be better than this.
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