Review: ‘Quarantine’ worth the fright

Picture a reporter, cameraman, firefighters, police officers and a group of residents trapped in a Los Angeles apartment building fighting for their fate. This is what you’ll see in “Quarantine,” directed by John Erick Dowdle with Jennifer Carpenter, Jay Hernandez and Steve Harris in leading roles.

This horror, or say terror, flick begins with a jovial mood: a TV reporter, Angela, played by Carpenter, shooting a night with the firefighters with her cameraman, Scott, played by Harris. In an interesting turnout, duty calls for the firefighters and Angela gets on the road with Jake, one of the firefighters, to get some scoop. Little do they know, they’ll be entering the building never to exit.

Soon after the firefighters enter the building, they find something is wrong. People start dying in weird ways, and the building is sealed in fear of a biological/nuclear threat by the Center for Disease Control. In no time, people inside the building are terrorized as they start biting each other, turning them into some sort of ravenous creature. And Scott, with Angela’s instructions, is capturing all the action and emotion within the building.

This docudrama sort of movie is a thrilling ride. You can certainly expect some gory images of torn flesh and broken bones, but the thrill of “what next?” seems to be more captivating.

“Quarantine” follows the footsteps of Matt Reeves’s “Cloverfield,” released in January, with live camera shots and shaky images. The entire movie is presented through the lens of Scott’s camera. Even the transition between scenes is shown in a way as if the camera is switched off and then turned on. The scenes toward the end of the movie with night vision add the feel and fright to the atmosphere.

There are some instances in the movie that will jolt you and maybe shake your senses – expect the unexpected sights and shrieks. Also, the music adds to the eeriness. The police sirens and the sound of the choppers help to make the audience believe something is wrong.

“Quarantine” is not about supernatural powers or spirits but about fear. It’s about trying to survive in the closed vicinity where you could be the next victim of a disease that will make you thirsty for blood and hungry for flesh. The movie is about the terror when you know you’re disconnected from the outside world and left to die. And the actors add to the horror.

The tension is well portrayed by all the actors who are left to die, and you can see it in their eyes. Carpenter gives a good deal of fright and panic through her performance. You might recall her from “The Exorcism of Emily Rose” (as the title character) and “White Chicks.”

Hernandez, as a firefighter, seems to be doing his duty. He is well known for his roles in horror and thriller movies like “Lakeview Terrace,” “Hostel,” and “Grindhouse.” As for Harris, whom you might have noticed in episodes of “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Law and Order,” his presence is felt through the camera he is shooting with and his voice.

Coming this far, does “Quarantine” make a move to thrill the audience? Temporarily. There is the thrill, the sound and music that makes you feel something is going on, and the shaky camera effect makes it all believable as if someone is shooting live footage.

So is it a good idea to spend 90 minutes quarantined in the theater? I’d say yes. It can make you mentally sick for a while, and you’re certainly to picture yourself quarantined and imagine the consequences. But once you’re out of the theater, you’re free.