SYNOPSIS: Earlier tonight, a bizarre disease was unleashed in a run-down Los Angeles tenement...and no one got out alive. Yet something escaped. Now, aboard Flight 318, the first symptons begin to show. As the infection begins to take root, innocent passengers suddenly transform into terrifying, bloodthirsty killer. Forced to land at an isolated terminal and surrounded by government agents, the crew and passengers grow increasingly desperate. The only question now is how far they will go to survive.
Hollywood’s obsession with remaking every single movie concept that’s proved successful overseas led to the almost shot-by-shot unnecessary remake of Jaume Balagueró and Paco Plaza’s Spanish hit horror thriller [REC]. Indeed, while it certainly wasn’t bad, John Erick Dowdle’s ‘Quarantine’ was simply an imitation of its Spanish counterpart, and offered little reason why fans of the genre should see it over the much superior original. So it is with trepidation that we approach this direct-to-video sequel, ‘Quarantine 2’- after all, such in-name only sequels tend to pale far in comparison with their predecessors.
But surprise, surprise- writer/director John Pogue’s sequel is actually much better than expected, tight and gripping throughout in a neat slice of genre entertainment. First off, it’s good to know that ‘Quarantine 2’ offers an original story that doesn’t follow [REC 2], and the liberty that Pogue has taken with the material allows him to bring the infection from the first movie out of the apartment building and onto a commercial airplane. It’s a sleek move to say the least, since such confined spaces are too appropriate for engendering fear and dread.
Taking place on the very same night as the first ‘Quarantine’, it begins by introducing its audience to a group of passengers as they board the plane- among them a disabled elderly man, a nonchalant teenager, a middle-aged teacher who insists on bringing hamsters on board, a grandmother with a cat in her handbag and a young couple who can’t quite keep their hands off each other. Not to spoil any surprises for you, but suffice to say that Pogue builds the events superbly leading up to the first human infection on board the plane.
Like the original, the infected turn berserk, and their eyes bloodshot- the result of which forces the pilot to turn back and make an emergency landing. For reasons apparent to us but not the passengers, they are not allowed to enter the terminal, and instead find their way into a massive baggage handling facility where they find themselves quarantined. The infection spreads of course, but Pogue makes an admirable attempt at finding reason for the mayhem which ends in a good twist that links the proceedings with that in the first movie.
Pogue, who also makes his directorial debut here after writing other thrillers such as ‘Ghost Ship’ and ‘The Skulls’, turns out to be a skilful helmer with a good sense of pace. The movie picks up very quickly once the plane is airborne, and sustains its brisk momentum right up to the end. The B-cast don’t stand out much, but they do well enough to flesh out their respective character stereotypes- especially the beautiful Mercedes Masöhn, who plays the flight attendant Jenny tasked with keeping the passengers calm.
But of course, you don’t expect more from the cast going into a movie like this- you simply ask for a terrifying bloody good time. And while this doesn’t reach the same heights as [REC] or [REC 2] for that matter, Pogue’s direct-to-video sequel is an above-average genre movie that delivers the requisite thrills- albeit in a decidedly low-budget fashion. But for attempting to break away from the [REC] series, Pogue’s film deserves points for originality- so if you’re looking for a riveting horror thriller, this should do well to satisfy your appetite.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 has a good sense of place, even if the surround effects could be beefed up. Visuals are clear, though most of the scenes are dimly lit.