QUARANTINE (D: John Erick Dowdle, 89 min) Opens October 10. See review October 14. Rating: NNNN
Quarantine is gripping, entirely effective horror, even if you've seen Jaume Balagueró and Paco Plaza's [REC], the terrific Spanish chiller on which it's very closely based.
Shifting the action from Barcelona to L.A. but sticking very faithfully to the original in terms of characters and plot, director John Erick Dowdle and his co-writer brother Drew Dowdle do a fine job of recreating Balagueró and Plaza's relentless study in locked-down terror as seen through the lens of an unlucky TV camera crew shadowing a pair of firefighters on an emergency call that goes very wrong.
Dexter's Jennifer Carpenter steps in for Manuela Velasco as Angela Vidal, the TV reporter who becomes the audience's terrified surrogate; Jay Hernandez and an unrecognizable Johnathon Schaech are her escorts, and Steve Harris is the guy behind the camera.
The residents of the apartment building with whom our heroes find themselves trapped after an encounter with a particularly virulent biohazard are played by vaguely familiar faces like Greg Germann, Denis O'Hare, Dania Ramirez and Rade Serbedzija - nice, relatable choices that make the horror seem even more immediate and unsettling.
The single-camera, unedited-footage thing was done to perfection earlier this year in Cloverfield. And George A. Romero's Diary Of The Dead covers much the same narrative ground, though with far too many pauses for Romero to burnish his social-commentator rep.
But even given these similarities, Quarantine - like [REC] before it - is distinguished by its energy and claustrophobic intensity. It's a terrific roller-coaster ride, and once it gets rolling it just doesn't stop.