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"I think realism in a heightened environment like this is so effective," says Quarantine director John Dowdle. "To take a zombie-like thing and place it in a completely realistic world, in a world that we know, that we see on YouTube, in that kind of immediate personal world, I think is really attractive."
Attractive? You might not agree after you finish reading this review:
Angela and her cameraman, Scott, work for the show Night Shift and are often out shooting "slice of life" stories that feature real people and their real lives in a real L.A. It's a low-key series that's usually full of jokes and amiable banter.
That's how they came to be tailing a couple of LAFD's bravest. And when the firemen get a distress call from a nearby apartment building, the TV duo eagerly tags along in hopes of seeing some real excitement for once.
When they make it to an old woman's apartment, though, they find a little too much excitement. The woman is foaming at the mouth and quickly attacks one of the policemen present, ripping out his throat with her teeth. It's all kind of terrifying. But this could be the type of edgy story that might get Angela noticed. She tells Scott to film everything.
And so he keeps the camera rolling—as other residents start to drool with this weird rabies-like disease, and as the Centers for Disease Control quarantines the building at gunpoint, and as hazmat suit-clad specialists drill into an injured man's brain. The horror grows. And Angela starts to worry that this might not be their breakout story after all. In fact, they may not even be breaking out of the building. Alive, anyway.
As the rapid-fire strain of rabies runs amok, the residents of the quarantined apartment building start responding very differently. Some are thoughtless and self-focused while others readily volunteer to help those in need. (And it's clear to everybody watching what the right thing to do is.) A fireman and a surviving police officer do everything they can to keep occupants safe and panic-free. And a veterinarian who lives in the building struggles to keep the injured alive.
Angela and Scott are both shown to be visibly shaken and repelled by the violence that they see and eventually participate in.
A resident claims his "God-given right" to protect himself.
Angela wears a form-fitting tank top through a good portion of the movie. And while intensely frightening and not overtly sexual in nature, one scene shows her crawling on all fours toward the camera, exposing her bra.
Angela and the firemen share a few flirting, sexualized jokes. Men are shirtless in the firemen's locker room; one is wrapped in a towel, another wears boxers. Surprised in the shower, a man keeps trying to step out naked while Angela covers her eyes. (He's stopped by other firemen.)
There's a big difference between traditional cinematic zombies and these infected folks: Rabid people aren't slow. And that gives you a clue to how fast and furious the jump scenes and bloodletting come in Quarantine.
We see lots of gone-crazy humans drooling, snarling and snapping at their running and screaming neighbors while the camera (with intermittently blinking light) passes by in the dark. Someone's ripping out a throat here or gnawing on a limb there. The disgusting scenes just keep foaming and lunging at us once the gruesome ball gets rolling.
Scott uses the splatter-covered camera lens to repeatedly bash and batter an attacking woman's face until—cracked, split and grisly—she falls dead. We're also "treated" to other close-up shots of things such as the dribbling entrails of a rat that has been stomped on, a man's bone-protruding broken arm, and a shattered leg bone that snaps and rips open someone's ankle.
Other disturbingly grim visuals include a young girl going rabid and biting off the side of her mother's face. A man crushing an attacking grandma with a sledgehammer. And a scientist driving a four-inch drill bit into a man's brain.
Crude or Profane Language
Although Angela warns the firemen to be careful with their language while on camera, this film doesn't take her warning to heart—audiences are hit with over 15 f-words and 20 s-words along with a handful each of the words "h---," "a--" and "d--n." Jesus' and God's names are misused a couple-dozen times. And a vulgar reference is made to a male body part.
Drug and Alcohol Content
A resident in the apartment building shows up at his door obviously inebriated. Another offers to get some Vicodin from his apartment, which he calls "almost a pharmacy."
Other Negative Elements
Since early stages of the disease have people bleeding and foaming at the mouth, we see one woman vomit up copious amounts of the gross mixture.
Quarantine—a remake of a low-budget Spanish-language film called [REC]—accomplishes exactly what it sets out to do:
First, it believably establishes the handheld camera approach to making feature films. (Think The Blair Witch Project and Cloverfield.) Second, it lets us get to know and care about its leads before it terrorizes them. Then it mixes its cinéma vérité style with lots of rip-out-their-throats gore worthy of grisly flicks like Land of the Dead and 28 Weeks Later.
Everybody and everything dies.
"It's bloody!" said the film's special effects director, Robert Hall, in an interview with the online site Bloody-Disgusting. "I for one am tired of safe PG-13 horror. ... Horror is not supposed to be homogenized or watered down. I'm proud to say our movie doesn't shy from the red stuff."
So I guess it's not always a good thing to successfully achieve your goals. Certainly not when your goals involve visceral, gut-wrenching, pointless, bloody messes.
Other Belief Systems
Readability Age Range
Jennifer Carpenter as Angela Vidal; Steve Harris as Scott; Johnathon Schaech as George Fletcher; Jay Hernandez as Jake; Rade Serbedzija as Yuri Ivanov