x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018


It's another rip-off of The Blair Witch Project, only this time it's a TV crew faced with -- oh, no! -- the unspeakable.


A news crew shadowing a group of firefighters on night duty forms the basis of the horror film Quarantine. A cameraman films an enthusiastic television reporter (Jennifer Carpenter) as she follows the firefighters from the bright and playful atmosphere of the fire department to the dark confines of their first (and, it turns out, last) assignment of the evening. As they investigate a distress call inside an apartment building, the firefighters and news crew realise that something exceptionally sinister is afoot. Outside, law enforcement seals off all the exits and, one by one, the building's tenants begin to succumb to illness and then violence. The struggle to protect the residents gradually becomes a tooth-and-nail fight for survival, which is all chronicled by the faithful news cameraman. Quarantine is the Hollywood remake of the 2007 Spanish film Rec, and it follows in the filmmaking tradition of The Blair Witch Project. The audience's perspective is limited to a hand-held camera carried by one of the film's main characters. The technique, however, makes only a feeble contribution to a film that is oddly devoid of suspense. This may be due in part to the knowledge that the "footage" being watched is all that remains of the night, but it is also because the characters spend a good deal of the film strangely detached from the terrifying situation they face. As the journalist composedly continues to make reports for the camera, even after the afflicted have viciously dispatched several of their fellow captives, she remarks: "People trapped in here? can't help but ask why." People watching the film may well feel themselves in the same situation.

* Aisha Tariq