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Directed by John Erick Dowdle.
Written by John Erick Dowdle and Drew Dowdle.
Starring Jennifer Carpenter, Steve Harris, and Jay Hernandez.
Release Year:  2008
Review Date:  10/18/08


I didn't see a trailer for the new horror film "Quarantine" and now I'm glad that I didn't, because it made for a fresh experience with a horror film even if the film succumbs to zombie/horror clichés in the final frames.

And, you know what the crazy part is?  I was not nearly as sick as I felt while watching "Cloverfield" back in January.  "Quarantine" takes a similar approach to this genre by utilizing a single camera and point of reference, here in the hands of a reality-show cameraman named Scott (longtime character actor Steve Harris) who is shooting a show with his reporter/producer, Angela (Jennifer Carpenter, from "Dexter") on the lives of firemen in downtown Los Angeles.  Scott and Angela tag along for a call with lead firefighters Jake (Jay Hernandez) and George (Johnathon Schaech) to an apartment building where a woman is spilling bile out of her mouth...and, things go from good to bad in a hurry!!

The first ten minutes of "Quarantine" are beyond slow; I'd say they were just plain bad, but as a setup to what happens, at least it sets up a great idea in the apartment building.  Once we get there, I loved the film for about 45 minutes, with the scares, the developing story, the kooky neighbors, and the funny, unrealistic insistence that the reporting team take footage of everything that happens.  Carpenter, in particular, does frightened incredibly well, even if she was annoying after a while, which all of us in attendance (including Ross and his girl Anne) admitted afterwards.  We also get a money scare shot late in the film that had Anne let out maybe the best scream I've heard in a theater this year.

Sure, it gets silly eventually, and in particular, people make hilarious stupid decisions late ("Hey, Betty, you okay?  You don't look so good..." as a girl is literally having her flesh fall from her face), but on a Friday night with a packed house, "Quarantine" is a nice ride.

Rating:  Matinee


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Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
© 1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09