Tuesday, January 19, 2010

[REC]: Why It's Better Than Quarantine

Well I've finally seen [Rec]. Unfortunately I am one of the unlucky ones who saw Quarantine first, although I attribute that to the fact that [Rec] was not available on Netflix Instant Watch! If only Netflix would put good movies on instant watch, the world would be a happier place. Anyways, being that Quarantine was almost the exact same movie I was truly worried that [Rec] wouldn't effect me in the same way that it did everyone else. Luckily I was quick on my feet to notice that [Rec] did some things that not only made me appreciate it much more than Quarantine, but also made me realize how much scarier [Rec] is and how it was mostly due to those same changes.

I will refrain from writing about the plot but if you still have no idea you can read the plot from Quarantine, since it's the same!

To start with- [Rec] does away with the annoying flirtatious nature between the head fireman guy and the reporter. Sure we still get that all the fireman are gaga over Angela- since they don't seem to get a lot of girls around the place- but there isn't this annoying sneak peek into the guy from Hostel trying to give Emily Rose his phone number or to ask her on a date or whatever. I love this about [Rec] because not only does it prove that we Americans have to fit a love story into EVERYTHING- but it puts the real reason we are here- the fear- front and center. Who cares if there is an attraction there- there are fucking rabid crazy zombie people running amok. No one cares that people are capable of building up a relationship within 20 minutes of meeting each other- only to have that same relationship torn apart by zombies.

[Rec] also does a better job at getting the ball rolling. In Quarantine, it seemed like there was much too much of Jennifer Carpenter acting a fool in the fire station, and asking stupid questions and what not. With [Rec] we do a little camera spiel, take a few quick stops around the station and bang the alarm sounds. Time to get serious. Perfection timing if you ask me.

Now unfortunately with the next part of the film- I felt the same sense of quasi-boredom that I did in Quarantine. I blame this on the fact that I've seen the main characters trapped somewhere with zombie killer type people trying to get them one too many times. Things just felt uncomfortably slow moving- and while I do love that one shot of the crazy old lady with the blood over her- I really was just praying we'd get to the attic scene. Sure seeing the people who got bit change into the zombie creatures was interesting, it just wasn't what I would call exciting or terror inducing. Having the camera looking in on something happening in my opinion is not as effective as the camera actually being front and center of the action- which of course is what happens in the attic and which is probably the only time in my life that I almost peed my pants. I will say that I think [Rec] showed much more gore than Quarantine did. At least I think so... The part when the old lady first bites the police officer and we see that bit of flesh getting pulled off? Yikes. And the incredibly eerie shot of the fireman falling from above, was really well done and so much creepier than I remembered it being in Quarantine.

Now...the attic scene is one of the greatest examples of building up fear and doom in a small, enclosed place. We find our characters in the penthouse attic suite surrounded by medical testing supplies and newspaper clippings. We guess that this is where the scientist who has not been seen in 2 years lived- but we also guess that there must be something alive somewhere in this apartment- the question of course being, what? The first time we see that creature, zombie, girl, thing- is so terrifying. The way she moves and how skinny and horrible looking she is is gah. I also liked how they built up the girls existence in [Rec]. I can't remember in Quarantine if there was a back story to the disease that involved someone else- because I remember thinking that the really skinny person was the scientist? Perhaps I just wasn't paying good enough attention. Anywho- [Rec] outlines the story of the disease and even connects it to the bigger picture of demonic possessions, even going so far as to say that possessions are actually caused by this unknown disease- or even that the disease is what makes people believe that loved ones are possessed. Showing the pictures of the girl and then hearing the audio tapes of the scientist and putting together the fact that the last time anyone saw the scientist was 2 years ago.....!!! So basically that zombie girl has been living in that apartment complex for 2 years without food and still surviving??! Ahhhhhh

That scene alone was enough to make me prefer [Rec] for life. Even though Angela in [Rec] was a little more annoying than Jennifer Carpenter in Quarantine- there were just way too many pluses that [Rec] had. Even though they are essentially the same movie- [Rec] has these subtle changes that just make it better. I've heard some terrific things about [Rec 2] and now I can honestly say that I am extremely excited to see it. Maybe we will finally figure out who that little boy in the attic was?? Ooh boy I can hardly contain my excitement!

While I still don't love this film as much as Martyrs, or even The Orphanage- it's still a fine example of how foreign countries are capable of making some of the greatest films that we have ever seen. How do they do it? Well, by cutting out the annoying love stories- and focusing on the FEAR of course!


David said...

Good stuff as usual :)

I think it's a major shame that Quarantine became readily available in the US before [Rec], as it will no doubt prevent less enlightened viewers from watching the original.

I wish you had been able to see [Rec] before Quarantine, as I think it would have made it an even better experience for you. Cleary you enjoyed it and I'm glad to see you got so many positives out of it, but I think having seen Quarantine first will have lessened the impact for you a little as it was such a straight remake so no real surprises.

Keep up the good reviewing, I always enjoy reading your opinions :)

Matt-suzaka said...

LOVE REC! I saw it before Quarantine and one of the biggest differences that a lot of people don't seem to notice is the camera work. REC is shaky cam perfected and nothing feels forced or fake. The tension built from not being able to see every little detail is amazing and when you are able to see something, it is very natural to a person holding a camera. Quarantine, on the other hand, felt so off and didn't have a realistic flow about it. It was just too convenient and never felt immersive at all.

Great review and the only thing I disagree with is I liked the girl in REC much more than Carpenter's character. She was made out to just be some typical movie bitch and just something about her character rubbed me the wrong way. Plus, Angela's accent was wicked hot when she got pissed and spoke fast! So I may be biased.

Andre Dumas said...

Hahah you are soooooo biased Matt. Jk

You are probably right. I couldn't remember if Jennifer Carpenter got as hysterical as this lass did- but I remember thinking that she was also annoying so Im guessing they were equally hysterical and therefore annoying. I kind of hate Jennifer Carpenter because her facial expressions are too intense all the time! It's like how your mom and dad used to tell you that if you kept making a certain face it would get stuck that way--well Jennifer Carpenter's face is stuck in the Exorcism of Emily Rose face! And it's scary.

M.Y.M.H.M. said...

Good stuff!
I agree. If possible watching '[REC]' before 'Quarantine' would be the way to go. It's really too bad that the ONLY reason Quarantine was made was to deliver the story in english to Americans...

I do have to disagree about the downtime in the middle (and to a lesser degree at the beginning of the film). The fatal flaw of "found footage" flicks in maintaining a sense of realism is one that works against traditional suspenseful storytelling. You need moments of downtime to realistically portray characters continuing to use the camera. If the dramatic tension rises to quickly or stays fever pitched for too long, I would not believe that the characters would bother trying to document what's happening. It's one of the small problems I have with 'Cloverfield', an event THAT catastrophic would pretty much guarantee my dropping the camera.

I think the main thing working in [REC]'s favor though is we are unfamiliar with the performers in the film. I have a much lower suspense of disbelief hurdle to jump to continue watching the movie. The actors in Quarantine are all pretty recognizable (I've ever worked with a few), so I don't buy that this is really "found footage".

See also 'Paranormal Activity' vs 'The Fourth Kind'...

Andre Dumas said...

Hmm that is very interesting about the found footage argument. I guess I never look at these types of films as found footage or suspend my disbelief to take in the fact that it could be real. I guess that's just me and how I'm really just looking at the fear that is evoked rather than the possibility that it could be real?

I wish I had seen REC first as well- but I'm glad I could still take some good stuff out of it! What do you mean you've worked with some of the actors in Quarantine before??! Who who who!?

Ed said...

I'll add my vote to the others saying that you'd have enjoyed it more if you hadn't seen Quarantine first.

The middles section would probably be a whole lot more tense and exciting if you didn't really have a clue where the story was going. I really don't remember being bored by it for a moment.

Oh and the first time I saw the fireman-falling-down-the-stairwell shot I jumped out of my seat.

Nice review.

Chris H said...

Very good review, Andre!

I totally avoided Quarantine and every review, publication, blog that discussed [REC], waiting patiently to see it. After my "very long wait" on the queue, I was totally psyched to finally get it.

Glad I did because it was a powerhouse of an experience, even forced to watch it on my little computer.

the jaded viewer said...

I've seen Rec but not Quarantine. Not sure I'll ever see Q. Is there even a reason to?

Andre Dumas said...

I would say no Jaded! Quarantine really brings nothing new to the table just be glad you've only seen rec, I am jealous : (

Unknown said...

I lacked CHris patience and ended up seeing Quarantine in the theaters. While I really enjoyed the film, i wish I'd waited to see the superior [REC] first.

One of the issues I had with Q is it contained main characters I recognzed from other projects. BWP and PA work so well becuase i've never seen those actors in anything else, and that allows for a more willful suspension of disbelief. With Q I found myself saying "Hey it's the dude from Hostel" or "Man I wish Dexter's sister would stop screaming like a banshee".

Anonymous said...

I liked the main firefighter in Quarantine more than in [Rec] he was just more badass with that sludge hammer haha. But that whole thing about demonic possession is way crazier than a stupid doomsday cult. And they explain it more in [Rec]

Anonymous said...

You guys are all idiots watch quarantine then rec, rec sucks it isn't even in English and not even as dark and scary as quarantine and the actors are just way better in quarantine

NL said...

You guys are all stupid the acting in quarantine is better, its darker in the building, scarier and just overall better