Quarantine

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QUARANTINE joins the more famous Cloverfield  and The Blair Witch Project as one of the most effective examples of a “found footage” horror flick, and also secures a berth in the merciless “no way out” zone. Watch with the lights off, then go check the basement to see why the power supply is acting up. Take a hammer, at least. *

An L.A. TV news reporter (Jennifer Carpenter, totally acing it) and her cameraman join a firemen team to do a night’s coverage for a segment. A call comes in. When the team/s arrive, along with two LAPD patrolmen, at an older downtown hotel for an unspecified situation involving an unruly resident, unruly in short order turns vicious.  Another resident follows suit. Casualties mount. Before you can say WTF, the building is sealed off from the outside, with deadly force in place to see no-one already in gets out. A grisly nightmare unfolds, envelopes, expands and doesn’t take a breather to relent.

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Acting, direction, editing, lighting, makeup, stuntwork all mesh to a high degree. As the siege plays out, it carries a jarring, jolting sense of real-people immediacy that puts it way ahead of standard thrill-fests. Done for $12,000,000, it was directed by John Erick Dowdle, who co-wrote with his brother Drew, racing through a fat-free 89 minutes of increasingly shredded nerves (and tissue). Reviews were good, box-office answered the shrieks for help with $41,300,000.

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A remake of 2007s REC, from Spain, which generated three sequels, this had its own followup in 2011, Quarantine 2: Terminal. Before you seek to offer comfort by hugging that slobbering person, take a step back and consider. Maybe try sending them a note on a paper airplane.

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Superbly tuned cast includes Steve Harris, Jay Hernandez, Johnathan Schaech, Colombus Short, Greg Germann, Andrew Fiscella, Bernard White, Dania Ramirez, Denis O’Hare, Rade Serbedzija, Jeannie Epper and Doug Jones.

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Ms. Epper (the unfortunate ‘Mrs. Espinosa’) comes from a family dynasty of stuntfolk similar to the famed Canutt’s. Between 1964s Cheyenne Autumn and Hot Pursuit in 2015, she logged 152 stunt credits, and has been referred to as “the greatest stuntwoman who ever lived.” Mr. Jones (the supremely crept-out ‘Thin Man’), a contortionist, includes in his resume the stellar job as the gill creature from The Shape Of Water.

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* Maybe it’s because I’m a relic from the days of what was called an “attention span”, but I’m ordinarily not keen on shaky-camera jazz. Mis-used, it can drive me crazy enough to stop watching a film: The Bourne Ultimatum may offer Salvation Itself but I’m damned if I’ll endure it again. In this instance, the gimmick works, and a little background info from the DVD extras show just how tricky and involving the filming was. Well-done spookiness. The original Spanish version was positively-reviewed, ditto the US sequel.

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