Quarantine

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By Adam Frazier

The premise behind John Erick Dowdle’s film, “Quarantine,” is fairly simple. A television reporter and her cameraman are trapped inside an apartment building quarantined by the Center for Disease Control after the outbreak of a mysterious virus, which turns humans into bloodthirsty killers.

“Quarantine” is an American remake of the 2007 Spanish film “[Rec],” and like movies such as “The Blair Witch Project” and “Cloverfield,” it utilizes a first person, movie-within-a-movie style to give immediacy and uncertainty to the events unfolding on screen. This documentary style works against “Quarantine,” however, as any pacing or building of tension is neglected for the gimmick of a handheld camera which seizures back-and-forth during every sequence of possible suspense.

Jennifer Carpenter (“The Exorcism of Emily Rose” and “Dexter”) plays Angela Vidal, the television reporter cum scream queen that we are forced to put up with through the film’s 89-minute running time. She’s likeable enough at first, but soon you realize her television reporter character has about as much depth as April O’Neil from “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.”

When the infected apartment dwellers, or fast-moving zombies if you prefer, begin to feast upon the flesh of the remaining humans, Carpenter’s character spends most of her time on screen running around in the dark, screaming hysterically. Meanwhile, your stereotypical tough guy fireman (Jay Hernandez) fulfills his paper-thin role as the guy with the blunt object who fights off zombie dogs and ravenous old ladies.

What’s most unfortunate about “Quarantine” is the fact that it fails to live up to the promise of the horror genre, as it seems incapable of truly scaring the viewer outside of a couple of cheap thrills you see coming from a mile away. The film is nauseating, in more ways than one. Not only does the camera bounce around more than sugar-filled kiddies in a ball pit, but the lack of character and plot development is just as vomit-inducing.

Nowadays, it seems the purpose of contemporary horror films is to inflict the greatest possible suffering upon their audience. What’s the point in wasting time on a compelling story with characters you care about, right? Lets just throw in as much mindless shaky-cam scenes of people getting dragged off into the darkness as possible.

“Quarantine” is a tedious, predictable, sad excuse for a horror film made for the Hot Topic generation. It’s a shame that hollow, empty remakes like this, based solely on gimmick over story, flourish in today’s horror market while films like Mike Dougherty’s “Trick ‘r Treat” struggle to find distribution from big studios who would rather push 34 “Saw” sequels down our throats.

At least “Quarantine” has a title that provokes the very warning moviegoers should heed at their local cinema: DANGER. KEEP OUT.