I'd heard quite a bit about Jaume Balaguero and Paco Plaza's hit Spanish shocker, "REC", but, sadly, I never got a chance to see the film on these shores as, almost as quickly as I'd heard about it, Sony had snatched up the remake rights and were quickly going about getting their version into theaters. Armed with the new moniker, "Quarantine", the film employs the "caught on tape" motif used by "The Blair Witch Project" and, most recently, "Cloverfield", as we follow young reporter, Angela Vidal (Jennifer Carpenter), and her cameraman, Scott (Steve Harris), on a ride-along with the Los Angeles fire department. At first, Angie and Scott's fluff piece amounts to little more than a tour of the department's locker room, kitchen, and basketball court, as they wait for a call, but, when the call does come, the reporter gets more than she bargained for.
Angela, Scott, and their host firemen, George (Johnathon Schaech) and Jake (Hostel's Jay Hernandez), arrive at a complex where a screaming woman has locked herself in her apartment. With the assistance of the L.A.P.D., including officer Danny Wilensky (Columbus Short), they knock down the woman's door, and find her confused, covered in blood, and, ultimately, very aggressive. The woman attacks Danny's partner, biting him on the neck, and then turns on George, throwing him over the railing down into the lobby. With two men critically wounded, Danny and Jake call for help. Instead, however, they find themselves cut off from the outside, as the C.D.C. locks the building down, placing the rescuers, tenants, and Angie and Scott under quarantine. Angela and Scott continue to cover the events, thinking they've got a hot story, but, as it becomes less and less likely that any of them will come out of this alive, their coverage becomes a means of preserving the story so that others may know what truly happened here.
Quarantine is a manic thrill ride teeming with visceral shocks and scares. While the "found footage" thing has been done to death, it works well, here, and, under the watchful eye of brothers John and Erick Dowdle (the men behind the similarly themed "The Poughkeepsie Tapes"), the film maintains a level of nerve-wracking tension and organized chaos that truly immerses the viewer into this nightmarish scenario. I don't scare easily, but Quarantine goosed me on more occasions than I care to mention, and, by the time the end credits rolled, I felt as though I'd been run through an emotional wringer. This is truly scary stuff!
The film comes to Blu-ray with a very crisp and detailed 1080p transfer culled from an HD source. Quarantine's "shot on video" look translates wonderfully to Blu-ray, and while the guerilla style filmmaking doesn't produce the sort of beautiful imagery one would see in a traditional film, the level of depth and detail here is nothing short of astounding. The film is very dark, but balance is perfect, and depth and clarity are retained in even the most gloomy scenes.
The film's Dolby True HD 5.1 soundtrack is even better than the transfer, offering a robust and immersive audio experience that envelops the listener in a cacophony of terrifying sound effects that emerge from all corners of the viewing area. Staying true to the "found-footage" motif, there is no score, so it's important that the scares in this film be carried by both the imagery as well as the sound design. The marriage of the two make for one of the most intense Blu-ray horror experiences thus far
Supplemental materials boast a rousing commentary track featuring the Dowdle Brothers, and a trio of short featurettes, including Locked In: The Making of Quarantine, Dressing the Infected: Robert Hall's Make-up Design, and Anatomy of a Stunt (480p, 3:23). These short featurettes aren't particularly in-depth, but, thankfully, the Dowdle Brothers' comprehensive commentary makes up for that. Rounding out the extras are trailers for several Sony releases.
Quarantine is a fun and thrilling shocker that should please even the most jaded horror aficionado, and the fantastic HD transfer makes an already scary film that much more intense and effective. While supplements are a bit on the light side, the film, alone, is good enough to merit a spot in every horror fan's Blu-ray collection!