Okay, after seeing the trailer for QUARANTINE before The Dark Knight I was pretty psyched. Well, let me slightly rephrase that. I was psyched as much as I could be for a big studio horror flick. I’ve learned too many times in the past that what they masterfully edit together into a wicked looking trailer is often a suck-ass piece of garbage when you sit down and watch the whole thing. It’s almost always like that and I’ve become so jaded that it’s just hard not to expect to be let down no matter what.
So was I let down? Yes and No.
First off, if you didn’t notice from the title of this diatribe, there are spoilers ahead, so you’ve been warned twice now.
The only real disappointment I suffered at the hands of this film is not really the film’s fault at all. Just days prior to its release a friend put into words what I had secretly been hoping for after the trailer – that Quarantine could be been a return to the ‘Demon’ movie once so popular in 80’s horror cinema. Both myself and my wife vividly remember a scene in the trailer where the camera carried by one member of the quarantined and terrorized cast revealed a fucked up, Santaria-type altar, and it was my hope that the ‘infection’ working its way through the cast and causing them to kill one another in increasingly brutal attacks would actually be a modern take on what directors like Bava and Argento once played mercilessly on with classic schlock such as DEMONS, DEMONS II, THE CHURCH (Demons III and a prequel, as well as being the only one of the three I truly find disturbing) or even campy and hilarious NIGHT OF THE DEMONS, as well as countless other 70’s and 80’s, heavy metal classics. Two things I’ve long thought missing from modern horror: the satanic and actually scary fucking movies. By the trailer, Quarantine looked like it might fit the bill.
Not the case.
In fact, the altar scene we remember from the trailer is not even in the movie. Now, I’m sure this is my own fault, there is a scene near the end where the surviving characters find an apartment covered in laboratory equipment, news clippings and various other paraphenalia that clues us in to the fact that this whole nightmare (and make no mistake, I do think John Erick and Drew Dowdle do create a nightmare here) is the result of some maniac concocting a ‘Doomsday Virus’. I imagine when processing the brief, purposefully ambiguous images that make up horror movie trailers the mind assigns meaning where it wants. So the fact that the movie did not have a demonic edge bugged me a little bit, but really, that’s my own damn fault.*
And as far as being scary? Well yes, but not in the way I wanted. My wife insists it was not that frightening at all, however I happened to notice she watched a fair amount of the film with her fingers interlaced over her face. But to me, I don’t know… sure there were plenty of tense moments that kept me pinned in suspense and unease, but I was really hoping for something Scary with a capitol ‘S’.
But then really scary movies don’t really exist anymore. Maybe we’re that desensitized as a society or maybe it’s just truly hard to scare people to the very core. Or maybe the art of the scary movie has been replaced with the more vastly appealing ‘Jump-and-Startles (ie Scream, The Ring and most big budget horror-thrillers since) or ‘gorenos’.** Really there are only two truly scary films I know of, and those are THE EXORCIST and, believe it or not, THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT. I know most would agree with the former and call me crazy for the latter, but I’ll save my defense pitch for a later date. Just let it be said as much as I ended up enjoying Quarantine dispite my little issues, it was not scary in the way in which I had hoped, so I guess I’ll have to wait until something new surprises me.
* I really crave a return to the age of the ‘demon’ hysteria Reagan Christian and socio-politcal America seemed to thrive on. Nowadays everything terrorists are the new satanists, and it makes me sad. Call me crazy, but some dude hell bent on bringing Western society to its knees or destroying the world is just not nearly as entertaining as a legion of demons from hell reding the very fabric of our world. Just the way I see it though…
** If you disagree great – please recommend anything at all to me that might prove me wrong, I beg you!!!