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Quarantine 1 & 2

Quarantine (March 24/09)

A remake of the (obviously superior) Spanish film [REC], Quarantine follows spunky reporter Angela Vidal (Jennifer Carpenter) as she and her cameraman (Steve Harris' Scott) accompany a couple of fire-fighters (Jay Hernandez's Jake and Johnathon Schaech's George) on what seems to be a routine call within an ornate apartment building - with trouble ensuing as it becomes increasingly clear that the situation inside is anything but routine. There's little doubt that much of what transpires within Quarantine will seem almost uncomfortably familiar for fans of [REC], as director John Erick Dowdle's decision to replicate the 2007 chiller on a near shot-for-shot basis ensures that the movie's various plot twists, character deaths, and even locations are virtually identical to their Spanish-language counterparts. It goes without saying that it's generally the above-average performances that sustain one's interest, with Carpenter's tremendously appealing and charismatic work matched by the efforts of a top-notch supporting cast (which includes, in addition to those already mentioned, Columbus Short, Greg Germann, and Denis O'Hare). And while the jittery camerawork is relatively easy to accept in the film's initial stages, there does reach a point at which the relentlessly shaky visual style becomes a distraction and essentially ensures that certain sequences are flat-out unintelligible in their presentation. Dowdle's inability to infuse the proceedings with [REC]'s atmosphere of pervading dread isn't as problematic as one might've feared, although it's worth noting that one's interest does start to wane at around the one-hour mark (with the progressively tremulous environment only exacerbating this feeling). The movie effectively recovers for a climactic stretch that's as spooky and suspenseful as that of its predecessor's, and while Quarantine's very existence is ultimately pretty questionable, there's no denying that one could surely do far worse as far as horror remakes go.

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Quarantine 2: Terminal (August 1/11)

A superior direct-to-video sequel, Quarantine 2: Terminal picks up shortly after the events of its predecessor and details the chaos that ensues as the deadly virus makes its way onto a commercial airliner - with the film subsequently following the passengers and flight crew as they attempt to survive within a closed-off airport terminal. It's worth noting that Quarantine 2: Terminal gets off to a less-than-impressive start, as writer/director John Pogue blankets the proceedings with one-dimensional, stock characters that are, at the outset, simply unable to engender the viewer's interest of sympathy. The mystery surrounding which of these figures is carrying the virus generally (and effectively) compensates for the underwhelming vibe, however, and there's little doubt that the initial attack sequences are very well done and surprisingly suspenseful. Once the narrative shifts to that aforementioned terminal, however, Quarantine 2: Terminal hits a demonstrable lull that's admittedly alleviated by the sporadic emphasis on tense sequences and interludes (including a fantastic, Alien-inspired scene involving a survivor and a dark hallway). The ongoing bickering and squabbling among the remaining uninfected characters is undoubtedly rather tedious, yet there eventually reaches a point at which such concerns are rendered moot by Pogue's propulsive sensibilities - with the striking finale certainly ensuring that the whole thing ends on an unexpectedly positive note. (Pogue also deserves credit for including a seriously cringeworthy moment involving a needle and an eye. Yikes!)

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About the DVD: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment presents Quarantine 2: Terminal with a crisp transfer and zero bonus features.
© David Nusair