John Erick Dowdle
The premise is simple enough: You’ve got a news crew, some cops, a couple firemen and a bunch of tenants in an old dingy apartment building. Some kind of outbreak is turning them, one by one, into bloodthirsty maniacs. To make things worse, the CDC has just locked down the building, so ain’t nooobody gettin’ out. This could have ended up as your standard by-the-numbers horror flick. But thankfully, these filmmakers stayed [mostly] true to the original film’s roots, and set forth the lofty goal of shooting this puppy ENTIRELY from the P.O.V. of a single news camera. Despite how preposterous the reality of that may sound (why would someone keep filming when they’re running for their lives?) the thing actually works! At first, as I met our colorful cast and the camera just meandered aimlessly up and down hallways, I found myself thinking “Wow, this film shoot must have been a breeze.” But by the end, when the shit hit the fan and dozens of uber-creepy, flesh-hungry, primal-screaming undead started coming at us from every dark corner imaginable, I was yelling “Holy ghost! How are they doing this?!”. This single-camera long-take setup made for a much more terrifying and engrossing scenario, and really upped the thrill factor. The constant wailing of sirens and helicopters blazing on the streets outside frustrated me at first (I wanted creepy silence) but I think that was the point. If we were in that building, the sounds of the street and hence, the sounds of our salvation just outside those windows would torture us too. Big time.
I didn’t really buy our leading lady Angela (Jennifer Carpenter) as a credible street reporter; she was a bit too young, cute and ditzy. But man, when push came to shove and things got nasty, she was astounding and heartbreaking to watch. I’ve rarely seen a woman so convincingly and realistically play terrified, and it made for an unforgettable finalé. Corbin Smith was effective and believable as the cop ‘in control’ of the situation, and Jay Hernandez did a fine job as a heroic firefighter. But that right there was, for me, a huge problem; it was Jay Hernandez. I recognize this dude, and instantly when I see him, much of the trick of making us think this is ‘real’ is completely ruined. To take me even further out of the game, the cast also included ‘Boris the Blade’ from Snatch and the head lawyer guy from “Ally McBeal” (don’t ask me how I know that). There’s really no reason they couldn’t have found unknown actors to up the realism factor and provide us TOTAL immersion.
But hey, nobody’s perfect, especially in Hollywood, and other than that little snafu and a few other minor hitches (news cameras don’t have night vision!), I had a damn good time with Quarantine. Oh and for all you die-hard horror fans curious about the blood and gore ratio, let me just tell you this...somebody gets beaten to death with the friggin' camera. Yeah, they definitely held nothing back here...
"Locked In": The Making of Quarantine (10:06): I was actually looking forward to this one, as I couldn’t wait to see how they pulled this all off, and it didn’t disappoint. Lots and lots of rehearsing for long takes and some clever camera cheats. Not extremely in-depth, but to-the-point and more interesting than your average making-of.
"Dressing the Infected": Robert Hall’s Makeup Design (7:30): Because of the camerawork in this film, you never REALLY get a good long look at the zombies. This featurette gives you that. It also talks about the difficulties they faced in keeping things practical and shooting with one camera. Job well done guys.
Anatomy of a Stunt (3:23): A brief but ultra-cool featurette of how they pulled off one of the most badass shots in the film. Definitely give this a go.
You also get about fifteen previews for a whole bunch of movies, TV shows, the works. Check it out, if, um, you really like previews.