Two fer' one: [REC] and Quarantine

Because there's a sequel out now. And writing two seperate reviews for a virtually identical set of films would have been too much work. [REC] (2007) which is the best of the two - and came first - sees a news reporter and her trusty cameraman trapped at the centre of a zombie outbreak in Barcelona, Spain. Quarantine (2008) tells the same story, only set in LA, America and with Dexter's sweary sister from off'a Dexter. There aren't nearly enough horror movies set in Barcelona. You don't get to see much outside of the apartment complex, but it's still a neat setting. The remake being relocated from lovely Barcelona to overused LA is just one of the things that makes it a slightly less interesting movie.

Baaaaaarceloooonaaaaaa. Just out of shot: zombies.

The way the movies are filmed is like Cloverfield crossed with The Blair Witch Project crossed with the Dawn of the Dead remake crossed with The Descent. Not only is that as awesome as it sounds, in the case of [REC], it's even better. It's like the nightvision bits of The Descent, dragged out for feature length. It works very well in both cases - largely managing to sidestep the "why are they still lugging that damn camera around?" question that tends to plague films of its ilk - making for tense, properly scary viewing. Very few horror movies tend to stick in this jaded horrorphile's memory nowardays, but [REC] is one that really manages to dig itself into one's psyche. Quarantine, not quite so much...

Whilst there's nothing wrong with Quarantine per-se (well, Jennifer Carpenter's latter-half screaming and shrieking gets annoying fast - to the extent that her character here is almost as irritating as the one she plays in Dexter), it just suffers mightily in comparison to its inspiration. It functions extremely well as a zombie movie, but if you've seen [REC] then it just feels overfamiliar and redundant. Unsurprising, considering that it's mostly a shot-for-shot remake. Much of the original flick's power is in the use of relatively unknown actors and a powerhouse performance from the adorable Manuela Velasco. Watching Jennifer Carpenter and Jay Hernandez go through the very same motions doesn't really seem to have the same impact. Plus I just can't buy Hernandez as a fireman. Or as anything other than a torture Hostel victim, really.

If you've not seen [REC], then consider your enjoyment of Quarantine doubled. It's well shot, well acted (perhaps a little too well) and gripping throughout. But as with most things, the original is unbeatable. In this time when most zombie movies need a comedy element to be succesful, [REC] is proof that there's still plenty of mileage in playing things straight. And if this set of films teaches us anything, it's that "AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGGHHHHHHHHHH" sounds the same in any language.




  1. Great reviews. Love the pair of those flicks.

  2. I'm glad you are a true horror follower putting REC over Quaretine.
    Check out my full review of REC and let me know what you think.