I definitely have plenty of favorite horror movies that terrified me over the decades. At this point, I never actually expected there would be another movie to really push my nerves over the edge as they did when I was an impressionable young child.
And then I watched Quarantine in the dark, by myself, at night. Not having scene the original Spanish film [REC], this was my first experience with the concept of this camera POV film. As the movie moved to its end, I felt like my heart was going to burst out of my chest, I could barely breathe, and I didn’t think my nerves could handle another minute of the onslaught. This movie had more of a physical impact on me while watching it than any other horror film I’d ever seen.
Some will argue Quarantine sux, [REC] is so much better, blah blah blah….to which I say, they’re virtually the same fricking movie! Quite frankly, after screening both films, I not only thought Quarantine added a couple of slight nuances that enhanced the terror, but I also felt that Jennifer Carpenter, who is generally despised in this film, nailed it. Put me in the same situation—COMPLETE darkness and voracious flesh eating infected beings all around me—and I would also melt into a puddle of hysteria. Hers was no cookie-cutter strong heroine like in most horror films.
I think most viewers can’t actually put themselves in the shoes of the people experiencing the horrors in movies these days. Frick—I can’t even listen to the Halloween soundtrack while closed in a room with all the lights out, so I can totally relate to Jennifer’s brilliant performance. Sure, it’s different than that of the chick from [REC], but I’d think those who claim the movie is just a wasted shot-for-shot remake of that original film would welcome the change in characterization. And considering both films are such visual experiences, I personally find it much easier to get sucked into what’s happening on screen when I’m not trying to read subtitles that are continuously breaking the fourth wall.
But I’m not here to talk about the original films. It’s sequel time! Considering [REC] was implied to be the possible result of demonic possession and Quarantine was simply a virus—the sequels were forced to go in different directions. And did they ever.
First, we have [REC] 2, or as I like to call it [WRECK] 1, because it totally ruins the legacy of the first film for me. This film picks up right where the original left off: same apartment building, same night, same everything. This film is a virtual rehash(think Ring 2). And because of that, I didn’t get the same sick reaction in my gut, but instead, a mere, “eh, been there done that.” In order to progress the same circumstances in the same environment, more people need to enter the building. So in total spoiler fashion, I’ll say that a crew of “infection” fighters comes in, once again with cameras attached to them for another full camera POV film. There’s also a fricking religious dude who is trying to exorcise the “demon” that is transmitted as an infection from one person to another.
Yep, this film is Night of the Demons, Demons 2, and The Exorcist in heels. It somehow robs the original film of its potency to have it all concretely spelled out this time around. And when they get into a “demon vision” camera perspective—the only way to see the evil on a different plane of existence that resides in this apartment complex—it’s all over.
Oh wait. Actually, it’s all over when the building, quarantined and sealed off by the authorities, is easily penetrated by a group of bratty teens with cameras of their own. NO! WHY? WHY??? Body count. That’s why. Yep, this one steps into Friday the 13th franchise territory. Along with these unlikable teen characters come a firefighter (that’s original—or should I say, just like the original) and the dude who went to get medicine for his sick daughter in the first film. What the frick took him so long??? And the nail in the coffin of this sequel is the return of the female hero from the first film. I knew right off the bat what her role was going to be in this film, so not even that twist impressed me.
QUARANTINE 2: TERMINAL (2011)
Next, we have Quarantine 2: Terminal. Just like anyone else who is familiar with one of my favorite zombie films, Flight of the Living Dead, I was assuming that was exactly what we were getting here. And when the film began and we’re introduced to the characters on board a TINY three-seat-per-row plane, I was thinking it was going to be an hour and a half of brutal claustrophobia. Much to my surprise, most of the film doesn’t take place on the plane, but in a quarantined section of an airport after the plane is forced to land due to the outbreak on board.
I think Quarantine 2 really takes the smarter route as a sequel. It doesn’t try to be a continuing saga, it doesn’t attempt to fully repeat what made the first film so effective (you simply can’t), and it doesn’t bother to use the camera POV approach. This is a straight up director-behind-the-lens movie. It’s essentially just a fun and often scary zombie movie.
And damn does it have some intense scenes. The characters spend much of their time running along baggage claim conveyor belts, being relentlessly chased by these fricking infected that crawl, jump, and move like hell. There’s some nasty biting gore and your typical cliché personalities to create conflict. There’s also references to the outbreak in the apartment (the action in the first movie is actually supposed to be taking place simultaneously as the plane takes off).
We eventually get exposition and a kind of radical (literally) reason for the infection making it to the plane. There are even nods, if you can call it that, to 9/11, homeland security, and terrorism. There’s a big question as to how one character was able to get a gun on board the plane, which is really the films major flaw. That, and a ridiculous pair of “infection vision” glasses. WTF? Why did both completely unrelated sequels have an asinine special vision plot device?
Tension and jump scares abound, making this a well-paced film. There’s even a Cabin Fever-esque moment involving immoral treatment of the sick. But the part that really got me anywhere near the level of terror I felt watching the first Quarantine comes at the very end during an escape through a dark, narrow shaft. The way this plays out, the last few minutes of the movie had me convinced I was going to choke to death on my own heart like the whole of the original did. Those are some pretty flattering words, but believe me, that doesn’t mean I like this film better.
[REC] 3: Genesis (2012)
[REC] 3 takes its cue from Quarantine 2 and not only moves to a new…um…venue, but also ditches the found footage concept in a most unique way that automatically makes this film a ten for me.
It does further expand on the ridiculous possessed demon zombies or whatever the hell they are supposed to be in the [REC] world, taking it to even more absurd extremes. But, it WORKS because the whole movie is over-the-top. Don’t expect the horror/tension of the original film. This one is an all-out campy horror action film.
There’s a wedding. There’s some dude filming it. You roll your eyes thinking the hired videographer is really going to film all this crazy shit when possessed demon zombies are ripping apart all the bridesmaids? But then the camera is knocked from his hand. And we get…a regular movie! EUREKA!
This sequel has it all: a guest at the wedding who was bitten by a dog at the vet (wink wink); a dude dressed as “SpongeJohn” to entertain the kiddies…and to avoid copyright infringement; a bad ass bride with a chainsaw; dudes running around in chainmail so the demon zombies can’t bite them; a priest quoting scripture to paralyze the demon zombies where they stand.
Forget that this is a sequel to a worshipped horror film. Just sit back and enjoy the goretastic ride.
[REC] 4: Apocalypse (2014)
The REC series makes sure to end strong while tying all the sequels together. And this time it’s REC on a boat! Ship [REC]ed!
News report voiceovers fill us in on what happened at the apartment building, and we see the main girl get rescued by some firefighters. She’s wide awake, but she somehow wakes up on the ship not understanding where she is or how she got there. Okay, I’ll let that slide because this movie rox. And it rox the cox, too. There are virtually all men on the ship.
Several people don’t understand how they got on the ship, including a few from the apartment building and a woman who was at the wedding in part 3. Awesome.
Basically this is your evil doctor plot, as he attempts to stop the virus with human guinea pigs in the middle of the ocean. The few innocents have to figure out how to escape (from a ship?) as they are chased through super tight ship corridors by gnarly infected, infected monkeys, and human baddies. Suspense, gore, and kick ass makeup effects abound.
The film also apologizes for the shitty first sequel by essentially saying the priests were all wrong about the possession infection bullshit.
This turns into an awesome parasite by mouth flick with a lot of distrust issues in the style of The Thing. Plus, the final chase scene is super intense, and the fate of the parasite in the final frame is campy fun. Yes, there very well could be a [REC] 5 someday. Personally, I want a Quarantine 3 instead!