Sunday, August 28, 2011

Quarantine 2: Terminal (2011)

     Let me make my bias clear from the beginning: I have absolutely different expectations about films made for a theatrical release and those for the direct-to-video (now DVD/Blu-ray) market.  That is probably not fair, and it is definitely not consistent.  I haven't figured out a way to counteract the bias yet, and so it continues.
     John Pogue's Quarantine 2: Terminal (2011) is about 85 minutes of been there, seen that entertainment that isn't going to be hailed for bringing anything new to the genre of plague zombie movies.  It does attempt to build a credible tie-in to John Erick Dowdle's Quarantine (2008), but – for several reasons – that proves to be problematic.  Too much is known about the events of the first film, especially by the villain of the second.  Instead of a slow build to understanding what is going on (and then being realized by a veterinarian), it gets blurted out by a combat medic and accepted without question.  Most problematic, this sequel completely forgoes the idea of one of the participants shooting the action (and not just as the eyes of the film) – a faux cinema verite style I first witnessed in 84 Charlie Mopic (1989) – and offers most everything in a straight ahead style (until some thermal vision is introduced, and that plays like a cheap rip-off of the low-light scenes at the end of the "original").
     For all of its faults, I was still mildly entertained by Quarantine 2: Terminal.  Protagonist Jenny (Mercedes Masöhn, doing her best to channel a mixture of Amanda Peet and Piper Perabo) may be the less likable of the two flight attendant characters, and she doesn't evoke the same range of emotion or bewilderment one would expect for the events, but she is somewhat accessible.  The villain is, while stock in his motivations, is played with some very human touches.  The action sequences are a touch above the standard low-budget horror film (the estimated budget of $4 million may explain this).
     What didn't work?  Most of the characters aren't properly developed; the movie could have used about ten more minutes of set-up and a lot less time in a cluttered looking baggage handling (?) building at the airport.  The efficiency of the response team is all over the place, which begs the question of how news of the situation won't spread quickly.  There is a shot in the airplane of a rat where – for no reason – the speed is racheted up; as if shooting another take of a rat moving would have too difficult to produce a better effect (or letting it stand without alteration would have not gotten the same point across).  That isn't a complete list, but Quarantine 2: Terminal avoids being a disappointment by limiting its ambition.
     [Now, for the entire Rec (2007) vs. Quarantine (2008) debate?  I heard good things about Rec, but by the time I was in the mood to see it I knew there was going to be an American version coming out.  As such, I've only seen about the first 12 minutes of Rec and don't have proper grounds to compare.  I do know that I didn't find Quarantine lacking as a film (it seemed, to me, like a film that did a fine job in translating from low-budget Spanish horror movie to mid-budget, glossy American horror movie).  Will I get around to seeing Rec?  Yeah, probably.  I have a fair amount of missed movies on my list ahead of it, but I do think I owe it a look.  I would just like to wait long enough to let the remake not be as fresh in my mind; I would like to appreciate it on its own.]

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