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Quarantine Poster

A 2008 horror film directed by John Erick Dowdle

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A More Polished Remake; "Beefier" But Not Exactly "Meatier" than the Original Spanish horror film

  • Mar 31, 2009

I am not exactly fond of remakes. True, some of my favorite films like Cronenberg's "The Fly" and Carpenter's "The Thing" were major remakes which are arguably better than the original. I do somewhat believe that sometimes remakes are necessary because of the generation and the age of the original. However, the recent remakes of Asian horror were more disasters than successes. (I think "The Ring" was the last decent Asian horror remake) "Quarantine" (2008) is an almost shot-for-shot remake of 2007's highly successful Spanish horror film "REC". Directed by John Erick Dowdle, the film is actually a decent "Americanized" version, too bad I saw "REC" (see my review here) and that would be my standpoint in reviewing this film. I wonder how come it is taking too long for the original to be released in U.S. shores? (usually the original gets released along with the remake's theatrical debut, so what happened?)

Angela (Jennifer Carpenter, Exorcism of Emily Rose) is a TV reporter assigned to cover the mundane details in a fireman's routine. The events in that evening is very uneventful, Angela is just hanging out with the local firemen, until a call for help comes in. Angela with her cameraman tags along two local firemen (Jay Hernandez & Jonathan Schaeck) who responds to a call in an apartment building. The call seems pretty routine; helping an elderly resident seems simple enough; until a problem arises and they end up becoming isolated from the outside world. Which would be the least of their worries, as the tenants become infected by a virus that causes them to crave human flesh. 

                     Jennifer Carpenter in "Quarantine."

                    Jennifer Carpenter as Angela in "Quarantine."

"Quarantine" follows the original almost shot-for-shot, with a very similar premise and very minor changes. Both films utilize the first person view, shot through the eyes of a cameraman using a DV camera, a little shaky in cinematography but hey, I guess the style is part of the film. "REC" was shorter at 79 minutes, which resulted in a leaner, more intense and scary screenplay. "Quarantine" had a longer introduction, more folks are turned, one tenant is shot, there're added scenes with a dog and a rat, and some minor changes in its characters. The Asian couple in "REC" has been replaced by an Ethiopian couple, the apartment manager has been changed from an older homosexual man to an unkempt European man, the medical intern becomes a vet and a meek fireman becomes a macho stud. "Quarantine" maybe "beefier"--but it isn't exactly "meatier". The changes aren't really significant and feels less than redesigns but more due to character appearances.

The added scenes does set some needed groundwork for the minor alterations to its script, but it does make the chase sequences a little repetitive. This is after all essentially a simple chase film, with humans fleeing "zombied-out" tenants that are amazingly quick and inhumanly feral like those in "28 Days Later". The screenplay by John Erick Dowdle and Drew Dowdle is an almost mirror image of "REC"; it begins and ends at the same point, follows the original‘s scenes almost frame by frame. "Quarantine" does have a few more scenes of kills, but it also does nothing different in the manner it generates scares from the way it frames its shots; some scenes looked very repetitive after awhile. Remember I said, beefier but NOT meatier. 

                    Elaine Kagan as Wanda, Jay Hernandez as Jake, Rade Sherbedgia as Yuri, Columbus Short as Danny and Jennifer Carpenter as Angela in "Quarantine."

                   Columbus Short as Danny and Jay Hernandez as Jake in "Quarantine."

As for the source of the disturbance, while "REC" downplays any solid explanations that keeps the viewer wondering up, "Quarantine" does give it full exposition. "REC" has the guts to ask the question: what exactly is going on? Is this something demonic as the Vatican seemed to be involved or is it something biological? "Quarantine" says " we have a form of virus based on super-rabies that causes people to act this way". I don't know what you prefer, but the Dowdle's explanations seemed pretty predictable and similar to the horror film "Mulberry Street", another zombie film with a form of rabies-mutation.

The lead performers in the two films are almost on par with each other. Jennifer Carpenter is an awesome actress, and I've always been impressed with her since "The Exorcism of Emily Rose". The woman can indeed scream and emulate emotional reactions. Now, Manuela Velasco who plays the lead in "REC" is no slouch either; she can indeed make the viewer sympathize with her harrowing ordeal. One thing made me tip the scales to Velasco, she is sexier and looks more like a TV personality than Carpenter. Don't get me wrong, Carpenter is pretty with a tad of a tomboyish charm, but Velasco is voluptuously sexier and emits the qualities of a TV personality a bit more.

                       Jay Hernandez as Jake, Greg Germann as Lawrence and Jennifer Carpenter as Angela in "Quarantine."

                       Jennifer Carpenter in "Quarantine."

Two claustrophobic horror films, stacked up against each other. "REC" was raw, very edgy and way rougher, while "Quarantine" is more polished and refined. Actually, Dowdle's direction is a little too polished for a film with this concept and it is quite ironic that his more polished visuals made me appreciate "REC" even more. I think it is because Hollywood wants a shaky camera technique, but not too shaky--this is were it becomes a "gimmick" to emulate a "reality feel". Ask yourself, would you bother keeping a camera in focus when you're running for your lives? Gaps, equipment malfunction, very unfocused camera work should be part of the cinematography. The final act in "REC" is also a lot more freaky. This is where "REC" truly wins over "Quarantine".

However, both are good horror films, and while "REC" does indeed have the advantage in generating claustrophobia; I am happy to say that "Quarantine" is one of the most entertaining American horror films of 2008 (Hollywood horror hasn't really offered much). Dowdle's work won't be a classic and does lose some points in originality but it is a fun little film. "REC" and "Quarantine" are both lacking in engaging characters and while the original was simple and intense; this remake is more your Hollywood fare. I gave "REC" a highly recommended rating here, and I do recommend "Quarantine" so you can see how it gets beautified and polished. It all depends on what you are looking for. My vote is for simple execution for a simple concept.

Recommended! [3+ Out of 5 Stars]
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August 11, 2010
Yeah man this was a decent remake and far from horrible but REC was the better film like you said.
July 17, 2011
[REC] was awesome. Oh, I just reviewed its sequel....
April 02, 2009
Its always money. And in the end it probably kills the chances of a theatrical release for the foreign original since everyone has already seen the Hollywood version.
April 04, 2009
Karen, as I've said. I don't mind remakes on occasion, so long as it improves or maybe a credible attempt to improve on the original. I buy remakes of other films, but most of the time, Hollywood filmmakers seem lazy and just wants to make a quick buck.
April 05, 2009
Its rare but I don't mind them if they're better either; INVASION OF THE BODY SNATHERS can also be added to that list of remakes that succeeded along with THE FLY and THE THING, but for ever FLY there are endless THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILLs and PLANET OF THE APES and STEPFORD WIVES. What really scrares me is SAM RAIMI remaking EVIL DEAD! I just want to corner the guy and tell him the first 100 reasons why that is a terrible idea and the two or three things he could still do topull it out of the fire if he insists on doing it.
March 31, 2009
A 3½ rating isn't that bad. have you reviewed the original as well. I'd love to compare your takes on the two different films. Hey, did you ever see the movie "Prince of Darkness"? I had meant to ask you about it a while back and kept forgetting to. It's a pretty cool Carpenter flick about a group of theoretical physics and theology students who discover that the devil's offspring is going to be reborn in an old Church. The first half of the movie is great, but it begins to turn into a typical zombie film near the end. Still, it's worth a see if for no other reason than Alice Cooper plays the main zombie guy.
March 31, 2009
I reviewed the original; I linked this up to that review--just click on the "see my review here" in the first paragraph and it'll take you back to my REC review. I do like "Prince of Darkness"--howqever, it has been ages since I saw it last.
March 31, 2009
How'd you create the "here" link to your other review. I've been wanting to link my "Kill Bill Vol. 1 & 2" reviews, but couldn't get it to work the way I wanted.
March 31, 2009
I'll message you to forward you the instructions...
More Quarantine reviews
review by . August 01, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
** out of ****     You might as well not listen to anything I say in this review. "Quarantine" was not made for me, or anybody who saw the original film that it is based off of, "REC". It was impossible for me to enjoy myself, as the film doesn't intend on delivering much new; but maybe that's what some people will like about it. Formula works with some people and tells others, almost instantly, to stay far away. The formula that "Quarantine" is using works, but that doesn't …
review by . February 21, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
Yeah its another Zombie flick.
I love these shaky camera movies. Movies like these really ramp up the tension for the viewers. Quarentine was a great movie. Yeah I know its a zombie flick GOD KNOWS HOW MANY OF THOSE IVE SEEN. But what makes Quarentine different from all ths others is where it takes place and the circumstances that the characters find themselves in. Quarentine like all horror movies starts off mondane, then quckly makes its way to the supernatural.The basic plot of the movie is that a new network whats to do a …
review by . April 30, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
QUARANTINE       Angela is a reporter who is working a story on a local fire department; she is having fun but is looking to go out on a call. So she films herself hanging out with and playing around with the firemen waiting to get some really good footage. She finally gets her wish when the alarm goes off and every one is rushing to the fire trucks. When they come across the building the call came from they notice it is not on fire, but something wicked is waiting inside. Turns …
Quick Tip by . July 20, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Such a pointless plot, it made no sense and thought they were clever with the "camera eye". Been there, done that.
Quick Tip by . July 18, 2010
awful, the Spanish version is way better... so watch rec
Quick Tip by . July 17, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
This movie was scary to me I am not sure I would watch it again think of swine flu!
Quick Tip by . July 10, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
A movie filled with bad acting, horrid camera work, and a predictable storyline, all based around a form of rabies. A bad attempt at a scary movie.
review by . February 20, 2009
This review will contain spoilers. You've been warned.      When I first even heard of Quarantine, I was at a rental shop checking out some games for the Nintendo Wii, and the cashier was watching it on a TV next to the register. At first I thought I was watching the Blair Witch Project due to the style of filming the movie incorporates; all shot from the perspective of one of the actors on a hand-held camera. Instantly intrigued, I shortly thereafter sat down with …
review by . April 23, 2009
Quarantine is a creepy remake of the Spanish film REC (which is far superior). A news reporter and her camera man are shooting a story about a firefighting crew. One night the crew receives an emergency call to a apartment complex. What they inside will lead to a night of horror as they find out that the building has been pit under a mandatory quarantine, leaving the people inside to deal with whatever the government authorities do not want to leave the building. Inside the news reporter, her cameraman …
review by . May 08, 2009
A fire crew, reporter and camera man get locked in an apartment building where the residents have a rabies-style zombie disease spreading on the inside. The building is under quarantine by CDC, and one-by-one everybody dies (about  20 people)?  I can imagine [REC] is a far superior film, but I still enjoyed this, hunkered down on the sofa tending a cold. The cast do a pretty good job with the material, and the pace is well-maintained up until the last 20 minutes (more so than The Blair …
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About this movie


Quarantine is a realistic horror film released in 2008, directed by John Erick Dowdle and written with his brother Drew Dowdle. The film is shot entirely from the perspective of one man's camera as he and a news reporter (the two played by Steve Harris and Jennifer Carpenter, respectively) shadow a unit of firefighters as they answer a call for assistance that turns into a terrifying experience for everyone involved. Also featuring Jay Hernandez and Greg Germann.

It is a remake of the Spanish Horror film titled "REC" which was released in 2007; which had achieved major box-office acclaim all over Europe. Jennifer Carpenter plays the lead role in place of Manuela Velasco. Part of the "Americanization" of Horror films. 
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Director: John Erick Dowdle
Genre: Horror
Release Date: October 10th 2008
MPAA Rating: R
Runtime: 89 Mins.
Studio: Vertigo Entertainment
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