Do you think you’ve finally escaped the recent Hollywood trend of filming horror movies with hand-held cameras that provide shaky movements, in the style of “The Blair Witch Project” and “Cloverfield?” Well, think again; the new thriller/mystery movie “Quarantine” proves that this style is not only still be in use, but is a continuous success among those people who like to be scared by camera work and the shocks they can experience in real life.

It seemed as though Scream Gems and Sony Pictures, the production companies that released the movie, wanted to target the teen/young adult audience, the group that made “The Blair Witch Project” and “Cloverfield” profitable at the box office. Scream Gems and Sony Pictures launched a virtual marketing campaign, including making MySpace and Facebook pages for “Quarantine,” as well as putting commentary on the movie’s official website that advertised it as being based on a true American government cover-up. Young adults use social networking sites the most, and are often afraid of stories they believe can actually happen to them.

“Quarantine” follows television reporter Angela Vidal (played by Jennifer Carpenter) and her cameraman Scott Percival (portrayed by Steve Harris), who are “shadowing,” or reporting on the everyday duties of, two firefighters on the night shift of a Los Angeles firehouse. Angela and Scott’s night with firefighters Fletcher (portrayed by Johnathon Schaech) and Jake (played by Jay Hernandez) starts off slow, quiet and uneventful, but picks up when they’re called in to a medical emergency at an apartment complex.

The group is met by two policemen and the building’s superintendent, who explains that one of the elderly tenants was loudly screaming in her apartment throughout the night, but abruptly calmed down. Jake goes with one of the officers to check on the woman, who attacks them when they enter her apartment.

When Jake and the officer return to the lobby, they discover that they’re being quarantined-all of the exterior windows and doors are being sealed by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, and all the phone, cable and internet lines in the building are jammed. Jake soon comes to believe that the building is being quarantined because of a nuclear, biological or chemical emergency, and the group spends the rest of the night trying to find a way to escape from the building.

While Scream Gems and Sony Pictures tried to pass the events in the movie as being based on a true American government cover-up, to some disappointment, “Quarantine” director and screenwriter John Erick Dowdle didn’t base the script on any true events, or even come up with the plot by himself. The movie actually brings a piece of European cinema to America, as it’s a re-make of the 2007 Spanish film “[REC].” It’s easy to get both thrilled and scared while watching “Quarantine,” thinking the plot really happened, but audiences may feel coned and deceived after learning the truth.

Dowdle does deserve praise, however, for staying true to “[REC’s]” storyline, as the only major difference in the two movies is the location change ([REC] was set in Barcelona). Often times, Hollywood directors and screenwriters try to put their own stamp and influence in movies they remake, only to make their versions less compelling and interesting, and subsequently, successful.

Casting Carpenter and Hernandez in two of the main roles in this ensemble cast was also a smart move, as they are familiar faces to the horror community. Carpenter broke into Hollywood and the public eye after she played the title role in 2005’s “The Exorcism of Emily Rose,” for which she won the 2006 MTV Movie Award for Best Frightened Performance and a Hollywood Life Breakthrough Award. Hernandez is also remembered for playing Paxton, one of the main characters in “Hostel (Part I),” and in a minor role in “Hostel Part II.” While horror films can promise they’re packed with scares at every corner to draw in crowds, having name recognition often times drives the actors’ fans into the theaters.

“Quarantine” can already be considered a success, as it made back its $12 million budget, and then some, October 10-12, its opening weekend. It’s definitely not meant for young children, as it is rated R for bloody, violent and disturbing content, terror and language. But young adults who can handle sitting through 89 minutes of a shaking camera and the terrors of something that truly can happen in real life should definitely see it in the theater.

Written by: Karen Benardello

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