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A remake of the Spanish horror film REC, QUARANTINE ($40) pieces together elements from of any number of age old zombie movies, with those of more recent genre offerings like 28 DAYS LATER and CLOVERFIELD to create a successful, if derivative, scare machine. QUARANTINE goes for that "you are there" guerilla documentary style approach, as the film’s basic conceit is that the audience is privy to footage being shot by a television news camera that just happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. As QUARANTINE opens, we are introduced to TV reporter Angela Vidal (Jennifer Carpenter) and her cameraman Scott Percival (Steve Harris), who are doing a human-interest piece on Los Angeles firefighters, working the night shift. After a largely uneventful evening profiling the firefighters and their activities within the station, the firemen and news crew go out on an emergency medical call to an apartment building.

Upon arrival, a police officer is already on the scene it is learned that an elderly woman resident of the building had been screaming, but then went silent. Inside the apartment the woman is discovered to be covered in blood and foaming from the mouth. As assistance is being rendered, the old woman attack and bites one of the firefighters. When the uninjured firefighter and news crew attempt to go outside for additional help, they discover that the building has been sealed and everyone on the inside is now under quarantine. As the evening progresses, those infected quickly begin turning into mindless rabid animals and attacking everyone else they can sink their teeth into. QUARANTINE works because the unfolding events of the film are effectively staged in long single takes, which simulates watching real horrific events unfolding right before one’s eyes. The cast of QUARANTINE also features Jay Hernandez, Johnathon Schaech, Columbus Short, Andrew Fiscella, Rade Serbedzija, Greg Germann, Bernard White, Dania Ramirez, Elaine Kagan, Marin Hinkle, Joey King, Jermaine Jackson, Sharon Ferguson, Denis O'Hare, Stacy Chbosky and Jeannie Epper.

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has made QUARANTINE available on Blu-ray Disc in a 1.85:1 aspect ratio presentation that has been encoded onto the disc with the AVC codec. Since QUARANTINE was designed to look like news footage captured live without the benefit of proper lighting, the 1080p presentation is far removed from the realm of demo material, even though it was shot with hi-def equipment. Of course, the Blu-ray cannot be faulted, as this is the intended look for QUARANTINE. Sharpness and image detail are limited by such factors as available light, the steadiness of the handheld camera and how well focused the lens is at any given moment. That being said, the picture looks as crisp and well defined as it possibly can. Color reproduction has a news footage quality that seems unremarkable under the best circumstances, and even that can drop off as the level of available light decreases. While not the prettiest hues, they certainly seem appropriate in context to the movie. Blacks are dead on and the whites appear stable. Contrast is all that one can hope for under the circumstances of limited lighting. Shadow detail is limited, since the way the QUARANTINE was shot allows everything to falls to absolute blackness outside the range of the video camera’s onboard light. There is an expected level of video noise that crops up due to the footage being shot with limited lighting.

QUARANTINE is presented on Blu-ray Disc with a 5.1 channel Dolby TrueHD soundtrack. Like CLOVERFIELD, QUARANTINE shatters its own illusion of being news footage, since the audio portions of recorded new reports are non-directional and specifically microphoned to capture the voices news correspondents, while canceling out as much background noise as possible. Because this in an entertainment designed for a cinema and not actual news footage, QUARANTINE delivers a highly directional soundtrack that places the viewer inside the apartment building as things go to hell, while the noises of the outside world seem to be so close, yet remain just out of reach. Fidelity is very strong, which enhances the real world sonic environment that the sound design manufactures. This is a really terrific soundtrack for a movie, but not an accurate representation of what one would hear on the audio portion of raw news footage. Dialogue is cleanly reproduced and is usually fairly easy to understand. A Portuguese 5.1 Dolby TrueHD is also encoded onto the disc, as are French and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 channel tracks.

Full motion video, animation and sound serve to enhance the disc's interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as a selection of special features. Starting things off is an informative running Audio Commentary with director John Erick Dowdle and writer-producer Drew Dowdle. Featurettes include Locked In: The Making Of Quarantine (ten minutes), Dressing The Infected: Robert Hall's Make-Up Design (eight minutes) and Anatomy Of A Stunt (three minutes). Some Bonus Trailers close out the standard supplements. QUARANTINE is also BD-Live enabled (requires a Profile 2.0 player).

QUARANTINE is an effective assemblage of genre staples the will please its intended horror audience. The Blu-ray presentation does a great job with difficult material. Horror fans will definitely want to give the Blu-ray a spin.



Quarantine (+ BD Live) [Blu-ray] (2008)


DVD & Blu-rayDisc reviews are Copyright © 2009 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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