Found footage #horror films seemed to have gone very quiet in the past year, with only a few being released such as Adam Wingard’s remake of #BlairWitch, this year’s #PhoenixForgotten and the literal and aptly titled #FoundFootage, otherwise, there is very little in the horror sub-genre on the horizon and in recent memory, leading me to believe that this type of horror may be dying, or indeed dead already.
If this is truly the case, I may be one of few who will be slightly gutted, as there have been so many great found footage flicks, from #ParanormalActivity, #GraveEncounters and #TheDen, though the genre isn’t without its fair share of duds, ranging from abominations like #Area51, #EuropaReport and #GraveEncounters2. However, like any conventional horror movie, there is a standout in this sub-genre, and for me that standout is the 2008 American remake of #Quarantine, which was based upon the Spanish horror hit #REC. The original is solid and scary enough, but this American #remake hits all the right notes both technically and dramatically, whilst serving up a huge heaping of horrifying moments, great performances and nail-biting suspense.
Reporter Angela Vidal and her cameraman Clive find themselves trapped in an apartment building, along with the L.A fire department, as an aggressive virus infects the building’s inhabitants turning them into bloodthirsty freaks. Now Angela and the remaining survivors must survive, but with the government locking them up, there is no clear exit. Simple premise, smart execution with lashings of gore. The casting is absolutely perfect in Quarantine, from the utterly convincing Jennifer Carpenter as Angela Vidal, to Jay Hernandez as Jake, a calm and convincing fireman who breaks as the tension mounts. Even Denis O'Hare, Joey King and Greg Germann are terrific, every single actor feels melded in these roles, I don't see them as actors once throughout the entire film, they feel real and once shit hits the fan, you end up wanting to follow each and every single one of these characters' decisions and see their outcome.
The build-up is wonderful, we get to see Angela at work, and how the firemen operate daily. The natural chemistry between the stars is what makes this film feel authentic, in that you're watching the b-roll from an actual news report that goes from an ordinary day at work to a night of survival and bloodshed. There's even dashes of comedy, particularly in the fireman's department, as the brash and fun personalities of these firemen are on show. The way each actor interacts and plays off one another makes this whole opening act feel genuine and entertaining, therefore setting a stable foundation before the action and horror kicks in.
It's rare that found footage films show off their monsters, creatures or killers, or that they're onscreen but because the camera moves around so shakily you barely get a solid glimpse. In Quarantine, not once does the camera shy away from the infected. Foam and saliva gushes from the infected, blood pours onto their clothing, sharp teeth and bloodshot eyes and torn limbs are at centre stage here, the prosthetics are a marvel. The first bit of true gore we get is brutal, as a frightened Miss. Espinoza leaps onto a fireman and rips his neck open, and as she is pulled away you can see every strand of stretched and torn skin cling to her hungry mouth.
Gore fans will get their fix here, from broken legs snapping, feet literally tearing off limbs, faces get smashed in and mushed up like food right down to drills being inserted into human brains. What's even more rewarding, is that for once, in a found footage horror, we get tight close-ups and really focused shots that capture all of this. The camera stays relatively steady, and shots are composed superbly, putting the characters in the centre of the frame, leaving their environment to encapsulate them, ready for scares or threats to come from every angle.
It's only right that the camera work towards the finale becomes more of a blur, it's suitable, because this ending sees Angela and Clive, the two survivors, flee to the rooftop as dozens of infected run after them. If someone was recording these events and was in a state of hysteria and panic, it's expected that the camera be shaking manically. Here, it isn't a distraction, it adds to the tension which by the way is almost unbearable, as you feel behind the camera, and that something deadly is right on your tail chasing you. All of this gets you on the edge of your seat and panicking.
Quarantine is such an effective found footage horror, with outstanding performances from its cast that adds much needed authenticity. The gore and effects are wonderful, and this definitely isn't the those with weak stomachs. Despite a simple premise, it's built-up to be much more than that thanks to strong characters, great pacing and sequences of riveting tension. Revisit this 2008 masterclass in thrills and you won't regret it.