Written by: John Pogue (screenplay), based upon Quarantine and [REC]
Directed by: John Pogue
Starring: Mercades Masohn, Josh Cooke, and Mattie Liptak
Reviewed by: Brett G.
"They aren't gonna let us out of here..."
Quarantine 2: Terminal gets one thing right from the get-go: itís not at all a remake of [REC 2]. In fact, itís not even a retread of the original Quarantine, as it completely blows up the formula established by all the previous films itís associated with. And not only that--the change works surprisingly well, despite all of the obvious warning signs it carries: the DTV status, the lack of returning cast members, and the relative lack of publicity (did anyone even know this film was being made, let alone recently released?).
Later on that same ill-fated night in Los Angeles, a small plane is set to leave LAX; of course, itís carrying more than passengers, as the rabies-like virus that plagued the apartment building in the first film has somehow found itself on board. Some of the passengers begin to exhibit symptoms: coughing, sneezing, puking, and violent, bloodthirsty behavior. This causes the plane to get grounded, and the terminal is swiftly surrounded by the military and (you guessed it) quarantined. One of the stewardesses (Mercedes MasŲhn) attempts to seize control of the situation before it gets out of hand--and before the virus is able to escape into the general population.
Not only does Quarantine 2 ditch the photocopy routine of its predecessor, but it also dispenses with the hand-held, guerrilla style completely. It seems a bit like sacrilege, but it kind of works--besides, itís not like the title demands it (like it obviously does in the case of [REC]). At any rate, the new approach results in a different type of film; it sometimes still feels documentary-like, particularly during the scenes actually set on the airplane. But for the most part, this is a much more cinematic experience with a conventional, multi-camera set up. This opens the film up a bit--thereís no longer a constant sense of immediacy and full-throttle speed. Instead, its approach is much more measured and unfolds to the typical rhythm of films like this, as it gradually picks up steam before rolling on to an intense climax. Many of the beats will feel familiar--the hysteria, the obligatory fighting and distrust among the group, subplots that hint at mystery, and so forth.
However, itíll manage to surprise you a little bit too. Many of the characters are the usual clichťs--an elderly couple, a jerky couple, a teenage kid who wears a hoodie and has one of those Bieber haircuts (Bieber fever might only be slightly preferable to the disease here), an army medic (convenient!), and a good guy kindergarten teacher who has an eye for our heroine (thatís quaint). Films like this seemingly always deteriorate into a last man (or woman) standing proposition, so I think you always subconsciously try to peg down who itís going to be. Quarantine 2 hews to the formula, but it throws some wrinkles here and there; one of them allows the film to open up the mythology of the series a little bit, as we finally get some answers about the nature of the virus. You'll still probably anticipate some of the turns (one is made so obvious that you're sure it's going to be a fake out), but it's an effective series of events.
Director John Pogue does replicate the stuff that he should: the fine performances (the kid is the only real weak link, but heís tolerable), the frenetic energy, the effective jolts, and the splatter. The overall atmosphere is also carried over; thereís a distinct creepiness to the type of entrapment these flicks offer. And though the terminal is much more cavernous than an apartment building, the suffocating claustrophobia is still there. Helicopters are constantly circling, and guys in gasmasks swarm about and carry the paranoia associated with such imagery. The setting might seem a little less intriguing than the ďQuarantine on a planeĒ concept seemingly offered by the first act, but one wonders how far that could have been stretched out anyway.
In a year where thereís been a dearth of wide theatrical horror releases, I canít help but think that Quarantine 2 would have been fine on the big screen. Itís certainly polished and packs a lot of thrills (not to mention blood and guts); besides, this is the type of movie that plays well to a packed house given the abundance of moments where youíre imploring characters to either get the hell into or out of somewhere. The hand-held/found footage approach of its predecessor might seem more simple and visceral, but this one relies on a lot of the same, straight-forward tricks that results in a fine, fun little horror film. If a movie like this has you inching towards the edge of your seat by the end, itís done something right--and thatís exactly where I found myself.
Sony did actually dump this into a handful of theaters earlier this summer, but most of us are just now getting a chance to check it out on DVD--and thatís your only choice. Like its counterpart [REC] 2, Sony has decided standard def is good enough, but that doesnít stop them from including a promo that promises Blu-ray will change the way we see movies (just not these particular movies, I guess). Small, digressing rant aside, the DVD is actually pretty solid; the filmís cinematography is smooth and clean, so the transfer accurately reflects that. Meanwhile the sound envelops you, as all the channels pulsate with noise. Maybe too much noise, really--I found the dialogue being drowned out a bit in the center channel, so I had to crank it up a bit. Special features were apparently quarantined somewhere else because this disc is bare bones. Still, the flick itself is worth a purchase since itís a violent, intense ride; perhaps not first class, but certainly better than its coach class package indicates. Buy it!
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