Writers:John Pogue (screenplay)
The original REC was a hard hitting Spanish shocker that showed the west how to REALLY make a first person Zombie epic. It was brutal, energised and paced to within in inch of its life. Perfect zombie anarchy. Then came the unsurprising remake, (reading subtitles is apparently a thing of the past), with the new title QUARANTINE, and whereas most remakes of foreign classics turn out inevitably shit, this one actually worked, mostly by virtue of closely copying the beats and scares of the original, and by having a lead actress with some serious acting chops, (and a scream to match) Next came REC 2, the sequel to the original Spanish classic, and it was every bit as brilliant and razor sharp as its original. Surely it would be remade by our good ole boys in Hollywood? A direct reworking? Well, no, as it happens.
I just viewed QUARANTINE 2 and I'm pleased to say it goes completely on its own path, and that can only be a good thing. The film is no classic but the willingness of writer/director, John Poque, (and the studios of course) to push the story arc in a completely new direction is, while never truly satisfying, a positive creative move. And it frees up the masterful REC franchise to cleave its own path with no remade hangers on, ( REC 3/4 are on the way).
Whereas REC 2 expanded the tale to include demonic possession, pushing the horrors in a more metaphysical direction, (and frankly, scaring everyone shitless in the process), QUARANTINE 2 gives a more real world explanation for the rabid bastards attacking all and sundry....Bio-terrorism. I have no problem with that at all. Its a bold move, and some would timely, if you buy into the mass media fear mongering. And it works. It makes perfect sense. For me personally, its nowhere near as effective as REC 2's explanation, but I'm sure for more grounded horror fans, (should they exist), it'll be relatively welcome.
Its not just the explanation that has changed either. Whereas REC2 is a direct continuation from the second the first film ended, Q2 is a completely separate story from Q1, and takes place shortly after the events of the first. The setting here is, of course, an airport terminal. That was the first surprise for me, actually. As the film opens on a plane, and spends the best part of twenty minutes on board in the claustrophobic confines of a small passenger jet. I was interested to see how much tension they could milk out of this cramped environment, but alas, the plane turns round and lands back at the terminal, making the whole build of atmosphere and intensity somewhat mute. Once in the terminal, its business as usual with hapless fodder getting bitten, going batshit and biting they're buddies. Its not bad, in fact for a straight to DVD sequel, it could and should be a whole lot worse, its just that it offers nothing new.
Also abandoned is the first person camerawork, which will please many. I actually think the filming style is what makes the originals work, but you really don't miss it here. Q2 still feels like a documentary. The no nonsense camerawork is workman like, documenting events with little flourish. Theres also no score, which helps add to the realism. The directorial style raises the film up a little. Its a case of making as much as you can out of as little as you have. The only handheld footage occurs at the end, and its perfectly timed, as it occurs in the single standout scene from the whole movie.
As a straight to DVD release, its obvious that Poque, (great name), was working with a very tight budget, and sadly it really does show, despite his noble efforts to cover the cracks. The effects are minimal, though effective, and the zombies/rabid lunatics are kept in the shadows mostly to avoid any makeup deficiencies. But overall, he pulls it off. Sure, you notice these things but you have to commend the guy for his smart choices. The violence may be sparse but when it hits, its convincing, (bat to the head, anyone), and he uses the time honored tradition of viewer participation to help induce the more epic elements of the tale. Sirens, gunshots and screams all hint at what we DON'T see, and it works. Poque has done a fine job, here.
The cast are alright, too. With so many characters bouncing around, theres little chance to get to know them, and they often come across as a touch thin, but they're a likable bunch, and the lead actress, Mercedes Masohn, (does everyone have a cool name in this thing?), is very easy on the eye, and easy to care for. All in all a good job. The relationship between herself and a young passenger whom she has under her care is well played out, and helps the films effective final scenes, hit that bit harder. Also of note is one elderly woman, who only has a few lines, but who sounds EXACTLY like the old pedophile from FAMILY GUY. Go figure...
While the film is really nothing special, its an interesting and fun little zombie movie. You wont be missing anything by missing this, but you know your going to see it anyway, if only as a curiosity as to how it compares to REC 2. Of course, it cant hold a candle to that film, but rest assured, while it'll be out of your thoughts by the time the credits roll, its an OK little diversion and a solid effort from all involved.
6 Animated Creepers out of 10