It’s impossible to properly review Quarantine without referencing REC, the Spanish film it remade (review here). In fact, it’s really not even fair to call it a remake — it’s barely more than a relanguaging. The plot is essentially identical: There’s a TV news crew filming a reality show about late-night workers. The on-air personality Angela and her cameraman are following a group of firefighters around. A call to help a woman trapped in her apartment turns into a harrowing ordeal when the woman turns out to be irrational and violent and the building is sealed from the outside by the authorities. Zombie mayhem ensues.
The biggest change in the two films is the root cause of the outbreak. REC‘s cause is quasi-supernatural, while Quarantine goes with a purely natural form of super-rabies. The effect of this on the actual film is nil. Seriously, apart from a few lines of dialog and minor variation on one scene, there’s no real effect.Â Apart from that, Quarantine boasts a slightly padded cast (and consequently padded body count), a slightly padded intro (more on this in a moment) and a bonus kill where the camera man beats a zombie to death with the camera.
There are also a few bonus blood-and-guts gags thrown in, such as the zombie walking on a severe compound fracture and a head-drilling. These actually look pretty good, but are unnecessary and, in the case of the camera bludgeoning, kind of kill suspension of disbelief a bit. It’s hard to believe you could crush a skull with a camera without so much as cracking the lens. The main addition is to pad out the intro, which actually emphasized one of the few flaws of the original, which was its slow start. All told, Quarantine still did a decent job pulling off the ratcheting tension to panicked climax, but not nearly so smoothly as the original.
On the minus side, Â Jennifer Carpenter is a less charismatic Angela. It’s not that she’s bad. Her performance is fine, it’s only in comparison that it suffers. Well, that and her hysteria through the last scenes of the movie becomes grating quickly. I also preferred the Spanish equivalents of most of the other characters. Again, no one was bad in Quarantine, they just weren’t quite as good as REC.
The cinÃ©ma vÃ©ritÃ© elements in REC are more believable, thanks to less “Hollywood” style actors, more realistic lighting and other minor elements. The pacing was tighter in REC, the scares better and the concept fresher. Ultimately, that’s the verdict on Quarantine. It’s not a bad film. It’s just a largely unnecessary one, given the existence of the superior REC.