Reinventing the homicidal freakout faux reality show that first grabbed horror fans by the throat a little over four decades ago back in 1968 with Night Of The Living Dead, Quarantine perfects the primitive shaky-cam antics of The Blair Witch Project and Cloverfield to stylishly raw effect. Abruptly switching gears from flaky mockumentary to nerve-shredding shockumentary without losing a beat, Quarantine elevates the notion of no frills to a more than equivalent scare tactic status with the most elaborate, high price tag special effects, whose repeatedly recycled, artificially induced gimmickry dressed-to-impress, is ever fading.
Directed and co-written by John Erick Dowdle and a remake of the 2002 Spanish gorefest ‘[Rec]’ that was never released here, Quarantine teases with a giddy bait and switch opener as aggressive TV news reporter Angela (Jennifer Carpenter) and her camerman Scott (Steve Harris) film a human interest segment at an LA firehouse. Angela banters when not flirting with the fire fighters during a long evening, while killing time waiting impatiently to go out on an emergency call.
When the call finally comes in about a woman in distress, the news team eagerly tags along with the firehouse crew over to an apartment building, with tenants in a state of initially subdued panic milling about the lobby. After the frail, disoriented elderly woman, drooling and bloodied, assumes uncommon strength and assaults a couple of burly firemen and LAPD cops, ripping their necks off, the prospective combo victims and perpetrators figure out that a deadly super-rabies epidemic may be in the works. But the local authorities are apparently one step ahead of them, and have sealed off the building from the outside world in the interim to protect the rest of the city, leaving the unfortunate humans inside to a horrific fate.
Quarantine chills to the bone with its never a dull moment high panic mode, frightfully heightened by its increasingly dim lighting and danger in the dark sense of utter helplessness, in the face of a selfishly uncaring government that has always been suspected of potential abandonment, whether in crisis alert or not. And an eye-popping both metaphorical and literal genocidal rat race scare scenario made especially haunting when it kicks in, with its post-9/11 domestic terror lurking around every corner, hyper-paranoid sensibility.
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
3 1/2 stars
DVD Features: Commentary With Writer/Directors John Erick Dowdle And Writer/Producer Drew Dowdle; Featurettes: Locked In: The Making of Quarantine; Anatomy of a Stunt; Dressing the Infected: Make-Up Design.