Jennifer Carpenter in Quarantine

If Cloverfield hadn’t hit the theaters nine months ago, Quarantine would have seemed so much more original. Sure, it’s a remake of a 2007 Spanish horror film, so in truth, Cloverfield was the rip-off movie (and arguably both borrow heavily from The Blair Witch Project). However, most of the movie going audience is going to see this movie as a knock-off of that J.J. Abrams giant monster movie.

Still, rip-off or not, Quarantine is a great film for horror-philes to whet their appetites before Saw V comes out in a few weeks.

The film follows a news crew that is shadowing some firemen in Los Angeles. After a rather unspectacular introduction to the crew and the firemen, they respond to a 911 call in an apartment building. They come in to rescue a sick old woman in her apartment, but soon they find themselves in a much more terrifying situation.

A mysterious illness that resembles rabies with a terrifyingly short incubation period is ripping through the apartment building. The authorities outside seal off the building, leaving the residents, the news crew and the firemen to fend for themselves as the disease runs its course.

There have been several of these fly-on-the-wall sort of movies made recently, from both the studios and the indie circuit. With only a few getting wide theatrical releases, they haven’t suffered from overkill yet, but if Quarantine sees the success of Cloverfield, that might not be far off.

For the mean time, horror movie fans can enjoy the visceral experience presented in Quarantine. While the film has plenty of flaws, the core purpose of the film – to make people jump out of their seats – is executed with intense precision.

Like many horror movies, this film is filled with characters who make god-awful decisions. Rather than barricading themselves in their apartments, everyone gathers in the atrium to die or get infected one-by-one. Also, it literally takes an hour into the film before anyone really figures out what’s going on, but you don’t have to be an expert veterinarian to see that people are getting infected by each other.

Additionally, the main character of Angela Videl (Jennifer Carpenter) channels Heather from The Blair Witch Project by yelling too much and whining a lot. Still, all of these things are forgivable in the horror movie context.

Anyone going to see Quarantine should know exactly what they’re going to get. The trailers and advertising of the film literally reveals the entire plot, and even treats the audience to the very last shot of the film. Still, it’s not so important what happens as it is to watch the grisly events of how things happen.

While the film is a bit of a slow-starter, things reach a frenzy soon enough. The action is top-notch, especially for such an intimate film. And the violence, while off-putting to the weak-stomached, is powerful, creepy and terrifying.

I love horror movies, and there have been a lot of crummy ones thrown up on the movie screen lately. It’s nice to see a return to gut-wrenching, visceral thrills, and just in time to kick off the Halloween horror movie season.

The Upside: Awesome horror flick with plenty of jump moments.

The Downside: Some so-so acting, forced dialogue and Blair Witch channeling.

On the Side: Rabies is a frickin’ terrifying disease, responsible for 55,000 deaths worldwide each year (mostly in Asia and Africa). Recent cases in the U.S. include three from organ transplants in 2004.

Grade: A-

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