John Erick DowdleWriters:
John Erick Dowdle, Drew DowdleCinematographer:
Jennifer Carpenter, Jay Hernandez, Steve HarrisStudio/Running Time:
Screen Gems, 89 mins.As a few of the many recent horror filmmakers to adopt a pseudo-documentary
conceit, the good people behind Quarantine
betrayed the movie the moment they cast it. Headliners Jennifer
Carpenter and Jay Hernandez, if not exactly marquee stars, are both recognizable enough (he from the
films, she from Dexter
and The Exorcism of Emily Rose
notion we're seeing real-time footage of people that have since
disappeared has zero credibility from the first moment they appear on
True, by now, the genre’s faux-reality formula is so overheated by films like Cloverfield
that even with a spare movie like Quarantine (which follows a group trapped in an L.A.
apartment building with a fatal virus), we don't really buy it. But the anonymous faces typically in films like this help the audience fall into the easy, primal delusion that it's deep in a chronicle of these characters’ demises. It's hard to forget, meanwhile, that Jennifer Carpenter will show up on Sunday for a new
episode of Dexter.
It’s a puzzling misstep, especially since director John Erick Dowdle has an otherwise impressive eye for the material. Quarantine develops into a legitimately
unnerving experience that's not without winking good humor, as when the cameraman who guides the action bashes a crazed person to death with the camera while we watch through an increasingly bloodied lens.
Dowdle also has the good sense to slow down the assaultive
climax for a quiet sequence in a darkened room that seems to hold an explanation for the outbreak. In a departure from [REC], the 2007 Spanish
film on which Quarantine is based, he rewrites the final moments so we
never learn the secret. The gesture is appreciated (the scene is more disturbing this way, more in the spirit of the frenzied
moment), but when the camera cuts to a final shot of
the movie’s star, we’re right back where we started.