Quarantine was released on October 10, 2008. It would be October 19, 2008 before I would see the film, and what a rush I had the opportunity to experience. Somewhere between an Andronima Strain and Night of the Living Dead, this movie directed by John Erik Dowdle and co written alongside his brother Drew Dowdle, leaves enough scares and jumps to keep one going through the season of horror, the month of October.
While not falling into the true Zombie format, this film shot in the tradition of Blair Witch Project, and Cloverfield and numerous others does something some of this genera have forgotten about, there is a backdrop of character development with underlying themes of societal issues addressed in the underlying plot. Not to put down either of the above films mentioned, they are fun in their own right, but Quarantine held my interest, had me jumping, and eventually questioning society more than any film in recent memory.
Quarantine starts out following television news reporter Angela Videl played in a terrifyingly beautiful way by actress Jennifer Carpenter. She is on a dream assignment of covering a fire station through the night shift in Los Angeles. She hopes to catch the thrills of a fireman while on duty and what she catches on film is far more than what she would have ever dreamed.
Interestingly enough director Dowdle does a wonderful job at not only developing the characters during the fire station scenes, but we get a glimpse of the happy go lucky attitude of Videl. She is about having fun, and doesn’t realize the seriousness of the work firemen do. She plays up the fun and the firemen play right alongside her. It isn’t long during the night shift that all things change. The station she is reporting on is called out to a call, and upon their arrival she quickly realizes this isn’t going to be a typical call or experience.
This is a very difficult review to write without giving any kind of a spoiler, but I will do my best. Upon the arrival of the fire patrol, Videl and her cameraman, we quickly realize that something resembling a virus has taken over many within the apartment complex. It isn’t long before those attacked by the virus take on the appearance of zombies and begin to attack the living. It is here that a great deal of social commentary is provided if one is willing to look for it.
One of the things I love about the horror genera is its ability to address social themes, and those themes are I believe, addressed here in a frightening, thought provoking way. It is as if society is so caught up in all of the fun that we don’t see or realize the horror and destruction that is taking place all around us. Whether the refusal to see the things that would kill us or the simple things like the development of relationships around us, we seem to be so self focused that death and destruction are inevitable. Then there is the issue of terror and the destruction that comes about as a result of hate. It is ultimately that hate that we tend to blame the downfall of our society on, but at its core, we are all to blame. Of course there is a swipe at the lack of responsibility and care from the government for those they are charged to care for and serve. While many will watch this and see a blood fest of horror, the real horror is the situations surrounding the story that ultimately draws the viewer in. The things that are really scary are the things that are in actuality happening in our society, our world, and our lives.
I haven’t been drawn into a movie this much in quite a while, but I realize while saying that, there are many who will have a tough time with Quarantine due to the gore, albeit limited, and the fear factor displayed in the movie. While I understand that, I also question the ability to question societal issues addressed in this movie in any other way. The things this film addresses in its underlying plot are scary, but then again, so are the things each of us face in our lives, whether we realize it at the time or not. While there is benefit to living happy lives, go lucky lives, have we become so self consumed that we don’t realize the horror and potential around us? Do we truly realize the damage society has done in its focus on loving self as opposed to loving the populist? Do we really care about our neighbor, or are they only worthy of a passing hello or goodbye?
This is not a great film, but it is a very good film that seems to have picked up additional interest via word of mouth during the second week of release. After seeing it this weekend, I understand why, it is a good, scary, thought provoking film. It is a film that explores our willingness to be so self focused that we forget about the things around us that lead ultimately to death and the downfall of a society that should be showing love and compassion for each other.
There are scary things in the dark; there are even scarier things that we seem to have little or no control over. We don’t know who to trust, and ultimately we are left to our own demise. In a world where we want to root for a good guy or gal, it seems as if we have few heroes any more. We are partially to blame, and then there are those outside influences that don’t help matters much. I won’t go into a ton of detail here other than to say they often raise their heads during political seasons.
Ultimately, and often way too late, we realize that along the road we could have taken life more seriously, we could have spoken out against the injustices that surround us instead of being so preoccupied with our own pleasures and our own desires. While Quarantine helps illustrate how for some it may be too late, we have to ask ourselves the question “Is it too late for us?” If the answer to that is no, we have to then ask, “What is it I can do to change the future?” The answer to those questions, while not thought about by many, is a large part of what Quarantine is about. The isolation, the hiding behind closed doors is not a pleasant place to always be. Far too often, when behind those closed doors, we realize too late that instead of locking ourselves away from danger, we have locked ourselves in with danger. May we all realize that being locked in is in many ways, not the best place to be, but in fact, the worst place, not just for us, but a society that is so desperately in need of salvation.
On a scale of 1 – 10, for the thrills, chills, and questions, I give a heart stopping, 8 to stay away from that flat line as much as possible.
To see the trailer for Quarantine simply click on the video below, if the video don't appear, just click on the link:
See some of the comments from the cast below:
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