Director-John Erick Dowdle
Starring-Jennifer Carpenter, Steve Harris, Jay Hernandez
Scott’s Review #1,154
Reviewed June 18, 2021
Clearly patterned after 28 Days Later (2002), Cloverfield (2008), and other horror zombie offerings popular during the 2000s, Quarantine (2008) is more of a film of its day than anything fresh or original. The funny thing is it works fairly well as an entertaining popcorn horror flick. It’s not going to be remembered very well but it provides jumps, frights, and thrills.
It’s shot like a reality television show with seemingly handheld cameras following the characters which also gives it a 2000s feel. The irony is that the story involves a reality television series (all the craze in those days).
The dark glowing lighting and Los Angeles apartment building setting provide a good amount of peril.
While suspenseful, that doesn’t mean that Quarantine is necessarily a good film. It’s not and my grade of a B+ feels awfully generous but the bottom line is that every film is not a cinematic gem and some just plain ole entertainment. Quarantine is one of those types of films.
Apparently, Quarantine is a remake of a 2007 Spanish film called REC which is set in Barcelona. The United States replaces Spain and the characters are Americanized for the mainstream masses.
Reporter Angela (Jennifer Carpenter) and her cameraman Scott (Steve Harris) are doing a story on night-shift firefighters for a reality television program. One night while filming, a late-night distress call takes them to a Los Angeles apartment building, where the police are investigating a report of horrific screams.
Angela, Scott, and firefighters Jake and Fletcher, played by Jay Hernandez and Johnathon Schaech respectively report to the building to find a loony old woman who suddenly attacks with teeth bared. Alarmed, they realize that the building has been sealed by CDC workers. Then they really start to panic.
Of course, laughably, they continue to film despite feeling desperate. Gotta keep those television ratings intact. In this way, it pairs well with The Blair Witch Project (1999) though nowhere near as fresh and inventive as that film. Instead, it feels like a copy of that film and other films with very little originality of their own.
Again, this didn’t bother me so much as I had no expectations of cinematic art when I agreed to see Quarantine. I had entertainment on my mind and that is what I received.
John Erick Dowdle writes and directs this project and creates a frenzied horror film. The action is quite quick and instantaneous amid a lightning-quick one-hour and twenty-nine-minute runtime. Interesting to note is that Quarantine features no actual musical score, using only sound effects. As a fan of background music in cinema, this wasn’t a great decision but I understand the intent.
After all, the Hitchock masterpiece The Birds (1963) featured no music.
Of course, the plot can be picked apart like a salad onion, but that’s not the point. But, for fun, why didn’t the firefighters provide the trapped residents with weapons or objects they could fight with? Why did characters try to ‘save’ characters who had been bitten only to put their own lives at risk? Hasn’t anyone ever seen Dawn of the Dead (1978)?
All events and storylines feel like some sort of setup.
I’ve seen better acting. Jennifer Carpenter, whom I have never heard of, is in a constant state of hysterics. That’s fine but her endless cowering, whimpers and hyperventilating does nothing to evoke a strong female character.
On a hot summer day, in a cold air-conditioned movie theater, is the perfect environment for a type of film like Quarantine (2008). There are worse ways to spend an hour and thirty minutes than munching on popcorn and being on the edge of your seat.