Quarantine (18)By Kim Franics
November 27, 2008
When a foreign film is a commercial and critical hit, a US remake often follows. Quarantine is a case in point.
An English language re-tread of cult Spanish horror [Rec], Quarantine sticks very closely to the plot and feel of the original, resulting in an adaptation that is every bit as tense and thrilling as its European cousin, even if it does feel a little redundant to fans of the former.
With a title that gives away a lot more about the plot than its Spanish predecessor, Quarantine is told through the camera of a documentary-making duo shadowing a team of Los Angeles firefighters as they go about their daily duties.
When an emergency call takes reporter Angela Vidal (Jennifer Carpenter from TV show Dexter) and cameraman Scott Percival (Steve Harris) along for the ride, they follow the firefighting team inside an apartment block where they encounter an old woman who appears to be suffering from a serious infection that has made her delirious.
When she viciously attacks one of them, things go from bad to worse as the mysterious infection starts to spread and they find themselves sealed inside the building by the authorities; in effect, quarantined. What follows is ‘footage’ that is presumably recovered after the quarantine is lifted.
Quarantine is a satisfying and well-made remake, successfully managing to retain the same levels of tension for the viewer who hasn’t yet seen [Rec]. Almost exactly the same, so Quarantine is arguably a pointless remake.
That said, it is good for those who find it difficult to get on with subtitles and enables a closer identification with the characters since we are able to understand more of what they say and how they say it. Subtitles and the language barrier lead to an unavoidable detachment
and qualities of the film – like humour – can sometimes be difficult to pick up on.
Dark humour is well-placed here and is a dimension in the remake that was largely lacking in the chilling original.
Part 28 Days Later, part The Blair Witch Project, part Cloverfield and part low budget claustrophobic quarantine thriller Right At your Door, Quarantine, like [Rec], feels derivative but retains its impact in part due to its shocking ending.
The acting is top drawer and helps to elevate Quarantine above other horrors of this ilk, with Hostel’s Jay Hernandez partaking in some extremely believable flirting early on and some top-class zombie battering later, and Jennifer Carpenter gradually degenerating as the fear grips, finally descending into a convincing quivering wreck by the end.
If you have seen the original and know what is coming, you are unlikely to be too affected by the film’s jumps and starts but, nevertheless, Quarantine is an effective re-run for newcomers of the events depicted in the Spanish film, with all the thrills and scares of the original and more besides.