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Film / Quarantine (2008)

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"They aren't coming to get us! They are NOT coming to get us! They don't give a shit about us, they're gonna let us DIE, they don't care about us!"

Quarantine is a 2008 American Found Footage horror film directed by John Erick Dowdle, who also wrote the sceenplay with his brother Drew. It's a nearly-Shot-for-Shot Remake of the Spanish horror film [REC].

Angela Vidal (Jennifer Carpenter) is a news reporter for a Los Angeles television station, who's shadowing a local squad of firemen for a feature when they get called to a nearby apartment complex to assist with a medical emergency. Before they know it, Angela and her cameraman Scott (Steve Harris) wind up filming the discovery and progression of an apparent zombie-style viral outbreak, which forces the CDC and military to seal off the building, trapping everyone inside.

In 2011, a sequel, Quarantine 2: Terminal, was released, that is completely unrelated to any of the [REC] movies.

Quarantine contains examples of:

  • Actionized Sequel: Quarantine 2 has more guns going off than Quarantine, and Quarantine itself has more guns going off than [REC].
  • Adaptation Distillation:
    • The removal of the twist about the virus' nature in the original ( it's not a virus it's demonic posession). It is easy to criticize now because the sequels went hard in this direction, but it was ambiguous in the original film and came so late as to be found unnecessary and out of place by some audiences.
    • Giving all exposition on the building to one landlord character, while in the original it was split between two tenants.
  • Adaptation Induced Plothole:
    • The infected are Technically Living Zombies in this remake, unlike in the original. So why did Mrs. Espinoza come back from being shot in this film?
    • If Mrs. Jackson can just leave the workshop through another set of stairs to reach Bernard's apartment, what's keeping the other infected from doing the same?
  • Adaptational Villainy:
    • The 'man from Boston' is a bioterrorist member of an apocalyptic cult who engineered and spread The Virus (twice) with the aim of decimating humanity. The original's 'man from Madrid', while not without villainous aspects (he imprisoned and experimented on children in nightmarish conditions) was actually trying to stop the plague.
    • The government is more openly hostile and seems to have sent in the army instead of police and the CDC (confirmed in the sequel). It lies to the press about having evacuated the building, cuts the building's power, and threatens the tenants constantly with assault and sniper rifles.
  • Ankle Drag: The last scene and the trailer's signature shot.
  • Apartment Complex of Horrors: The first film has an entire apartment complex fall to a mutated strain of rabies that effectively causes a zombie outbreak. They also get quarantined in the apartment building in the middle of the city and all left to die.
  • Apocalyptic Log: The film itself.
  • Author Appeal: The Dowdlers didn't like the Religious Horror twist of the original, wanted the cops inside to be friendlier, and changed the disease to rabies after watching a late-stage rabid Filipino boy in Youtube.
  • Big Bad: Henry is the mysterious "man from Boston", not the creature in the attic.
  • Black Dude Dies First:
    • Thoroughly averted. The cameraman is black, and so survives most of the movie. Of both police and fireman teams, the white ones get infected early in the movie.
    • The sequel has a straight example in Preston, who is black and killed too early to get any characterization. However, of the three CDC men the black one survives the longest and gets more exposition, and Shilah, also black, is one of the last survivors in the film.
  • Blatant Lies:
    • When the remaining survivors gather together in a room, every single one of them says that they aren't infected.
    • A high ranking officer appears on TV to say that the building has already been evacuated, telegraphing that they aren't even going to try it.
  • Boom, Headshot!: Bernard is shot in the head by a sniper when he panics and tries to escape through a window.
  • Camera Abuse: And how. At one point, it's actually used as a weapon.
  • Coincidental Broadcast: The main characters reach a working TV just in time to watch the government falsely claim that the building has already been evacuated. Seconds later, the building's power is cut off.
  • Composite Character: Yuri the landlord takes over some of the roles of the old man, Guillem, and César from the original (though he doesn't replace the latter two entirely).
  • Closed Circle: Enforced. One guy rips open the plastic sheeting that the Center for Disease Control has put over the building and gets shot by a sniper for his troubles.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: Most of the deaths. Some much worse then others.
  • Dead Line News: Angela becomes the unwitting first line correspondent of a Technically-Living Zombie outbreak.
  • Death by Adaptation:
    • Played with. The ending of the film is the same as the original, with Angela being dragged away to her presumed death. However, whereas the sequel to the original revealed that Angela survived, the sequel to Quarantine claims that there were no survivors and has a completely new cast.
    • Due to the change to the virus's nature, the cleaning lady does not come Back from the Dead.
    • Though fans assume them dead by the end, the original refrains from actually showing any harm done to the older couple. Not so with their vague counterparts in Quarantine.
  • Death by Pragmatism: An extremely aggravating instance of it. Randy declares he's going back to his apartment and lock himself in. As soon as he gets off the elevator, he encounters an infected dog in the hallway and runs back into the elevator. The dog follows.
  • Decomposite Character:
    • In the original, Guillem is both a hospital intern tending to the wounded, and the building's administrator giving exposition on it. In the remake, his medical counterpart is Lawrence, and all exposition on the building is given by Yuri the landlord.
    • César is split between Bernard and Yuri (who gets the plan to escape through the sewers and César's death), while Bernard gets a different fate.
    • The Colombian girl from the original, who only had two scenes, is split between the cleaning lady in the beginning and Bernard's roommate Sadie.
  • Developing Doomed Characters:
    • For the first 15-20 minutes, the movie is focused on just hanging around a fire station filming a documentary called "The Night Shift". Then the fire department is called to the apartment complex and the film shifts into gear.
    • Done again in Quarantine 2, with almost every named character who boards the plane dropping that they have a fiancé, parents, son, baby granddaughter, baby coming, or a dog home waiting for them.
  • Disney Villain Death: Both Fletcher and the African woman, this one after being infected are thrown down the stairwell.
  • Doing In the Wizard:
    • The plague in the original is a form of demonic posession. In Quarantine, it is a unusual strain of rabies created by a doomsday cult.
    • The Final Boss is changed from the original, long-time possessesed girl to a failed attempt to cure the virus by the cultists.
    • Unusual one in Quarantine 2, in that it only applies to the worldview of the cultists in-universe: While the paper clippings in the first movie imply a religious motivation for the group, Henry, one of its members, denies that they are a cult and says that such claim is a Government lie. Henry himself is a Consummate Liar, but he admits to the creation of the virus with the intention of wiping out most of humanity, and the Government does indeed lie several times in the movie, giving some credence to him. The way Henry talks about "the cause" and their aim of saving the planet from overpopulation makes his group sound more like a genocidal version of the Earth Liberation Front than a new religious group that uses bioterrorism, like Aum Shinrikyo or the Rajneesh.
  • Downer Ending:
    • The last shot of the film is the lead character being dragged into the darkness. Or, rather than illuminating the spoiler, look at the top of this page.
    • In Quarantine 2, the female lead sacrifices herself to save a kid who manages to escape. However, an infected cat is seen then carrying the infection to Vegas.
  • "Everybody Dies" Ending: Not a single person inside the building survives, be it because of infection or otherwise.
  • Final Girl: Downplayed in both movies as neither Angela nor Jenny make it, despite being the last character, and last adult character left, respectively.
  • Foreign Remake: Of the Spanish film [REC].
  • From Bad to Worse: Systematically, every time the situation seems to get somewhat under control, all hell breaks loose.
  • Found Footage Films: The first film involves the In-Universe recording of a "behind the scenes" special on a firefighter brigade that runs into the Technically-Living Zombie situation.
  • Gender Swap: The zombie in the final scene was female in the original (although played by a male actor), but is male in this version.
  • Genre Blind: At least half the carnage could have been avoided if the characters had simply closed the doors behind them or restrained the people who had been bitten. They can kind of get away with it when they don't know what was happening, but once it's made clear, they still fall victim to the genre. Even the CDC officials, who know exactly what's going on, are shockingly genre blind.
  • Godzilla Threshold: Really the reason the quarantine is even deployed. Especially when they all but double down on security after the two CDC agents never come back out and Bernard rips some of the protective tarping down, making it clear the only thing left to do is let things play out on the inside. This is effectively confirmed in the teaser trailer in which 48 hours after the events of the movie a HAZMAT team carefully goes inside to investigate.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: In the sequel, played straight first but then averted. The CDC officer shoots himself a split second after the camera changes its focus, then, towards the end of the movie, Jennie bashes in the head of an infected Henry with a metal bar with every gory detail shown.
  • Government Conspiracy: The authorities tell the press that they have already evacuated the residents, despite having no apparent plan to do so.
  • Hollywood Darkness:
    • The lights in the building go out much earlier than in [REC], shrouding the cast in darkness, but the lights coming into the apartments from outside preserve the trope.
    • Even worse in Quarantine 2, where there is no appreciable difference between the back area before and after the power is cut, and even between the back area and the tunnel to the abandoned terminal, despite the script clearly calling for the characters being unable to see without night vision equipment.
  • Hope Spot:
    • Near the end of the first film it's mentioned that there may be a way out of the building through the sewer system. The keys are on the top of the building. None of the survivors make it down again.
    • The second film has an even stronger one: Henry is a member of the doomsday cult that created the virus, and has the anti-virus with him. Unfortunately, the virus has evolved to be resistant to the anti-virus... not even the men who engineered the damn thing are safe.
  • Idiot Ball: After seeing the little girl is infected and attacked her mother, the second cop (so far, probably the most competent of the cast) decides to try to reason with her while she stands there, covered in blood, giving a Slasher Smile. His last words are "give me your hand."
  • Improvised Weapon: Notably, the video camera, at one point.
  • Improbable Infant Survival: Averted in the first movie with Briana, who is a Zombie Infectee and turns before most tenants. Played straight in the sequel, where the only minor George is the Sole Survivor.
  • In-Universe Camera: Understandably because it's a found footage film, the entire movie is filmed through the camera that Scott is carrying.
  • I've Never Seen Anything Like This Before: Played with. Lawrence, a vet, identifies the virus as something similar to rabies, but faster-acting and more contagious.
  • Jitter Cam: Seeing as this is an American production, the amount of jitter in this remake is so intense, it puts the Jason Bourne films to shame.
  • Jump Scare: Quite a few.
  • Littlest Cancer Patient: Averted. The little girl is a Zombie Infectee.
  • Ms Exposition:
    • The reporter, explaining everything that we see to the camera.
    • Yuri the landlord explains everything related to the building, Lawrence the vet and the CDC explain everything to do with the outbreak.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Angela wears a white tank top after discarding layers of clothing and tight pants by the end of the movie.
  • Neck Snap: Jake does one to the infected African man.
  • Not Using the "Z" Word: Justified. The infected are not undead.
  • Oh, Crap!: Angela, when she makes the connection between Briana's story of her sick dog and the health inspector's story about the infected dog who became violent...
  • Open Heart Dentistry: First aid is provided by the only resident with medical experience: a veterinarian, who notices the virus's similarity to rabies.
  • Original Character: Randy and Elise Jackson have no equivalent in the original. Sadie looks like this at first, but is actually an expanded version of the unnamed Colombian girl.
  • Police Are Useless: Like in the original, one of the cops is the first one to get infected by the old lady. Though in this case, the police are at least trying to keep their distance from the old lady and ready to shoot to kill (though not for the expected reasons - American policing isn't as laid back and carefree as Spanish one, and it shows).
  • Poor Communication Kills: Repeatedly.
  • Quarantine with Extreme Prejudice: In both films, the infected buildings are surrounded by a cordon of snipers and men with guns ordered to kill anybody who puts one foot outside of them. Anybody.
  • Race Lift: A sizeable portion of the cast is changed to African-American (or just African in the case of the immigrant family, who was Asian in the original film).
  • Room Full of Crazy: The attic room, with walls covered in newspaper clippings and lab instruments including rat cages.
  • Shot-for-Shot Remake: Aside from a few extra kills and Doing In the Wizard to the nature of The Virus, the first movie is a near-perfect replica of REC.
  • Shoot the Shaggy Dog: In the first movie all of the survivors die. In the second all of the survivors' sacrifices do nothing to stop the virus from spreading, and only one kid makes it out of the quarantined building.
  • So Much for Stealth: When the reporter and her cameraman try to evade the last creepy guy in the dark, of course they give their location away by knocking something over.
  • Sound-Only Death:
    • In the first movie, the man who backs into the closing elevator, chased down by an infected dog.
    • The dog itself gets its head crushed with a mallet by Jake but not even the aftermath is shown.
    • In the second, the third CDC man shoots himself in the mouth after the camera turns.
  • Stairwell Chase: Several, as the infected increase in number.
  • Synthetic Plague: The disease infecting everyone in the building is revealed to be a "super rabies" created by an apocalyptic cult.
  • Taken During the Ending: The film ends with Angela being dragged into the darkness.
  • Technically-Living Zombie: Unlike in the original, the virus is a form of rabies and the infected can be easily killed by comparison.
  • Throwing Off the Disability: The elderly, obese, and (in the sequel) paralyzed are able to stand, run, and bite after the virus take over them.
  • Title Drop: The CDC blockading the building on both films explicitly tell the survivors that they are under quarantine. When they try to get out anyway, it turns out to be Quarantine with Extreme Prejudice.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: The last shot of the movie is in the trailer, the official site, one-sheet and DVD cover as well as the lack of any survivors being stated in all those forms. For the main theatrical trailer, there are actually two versions, one longer and containing more spoiler-y content than the other but otherwise being identical.
  • Unbreakable Weapons: The camera that was used to beat a zombie dead, lens first and hit by a zombie several times without so much as messing with the video quality, let alone damaging it.
  • The Unreveal: The origin of the virus is implied to have something to do with "the man from Boston," who has newspaper clippings about a Doomsday virus on his wall. When the survivors discover a dictation machine in his room, you'd assume that it would reveal the virus's origins and the man's motives, but the speed is set too low to be comprehensible. Rather than adjust the speed, the survivors simply abandon it, leaving the details unknown until the sequel. The newspaper clippings supply enough information to piece together the story, which the sequel expands.
  • Vader Breath: The CDC personnel.
  • The Virus: What makes the zombies.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: We see a dog running from the building when Angela and the firemen arrive. Uuhhhh oh.

Alternative Title(s): Quarantine, Quarantine 2 Terminal