Hugh Howey
Hugh Howey

Bestselling author of Wool and other books. Currently sailing around the world.

Film Review: Quarantine

I am literally checking over my shoulder as I write this review in my unlit office. If my wife were to sneak up behind me right now and “boo” me, it would be grounds for divorce. We just got through watching Quarantine in our pitch-black living room and we both feel like we’ve lost a year off of our lives.

You’ve seen how they never manage to stop an outbreak in most horror films, right? They’re always trying to quarantine off the infected, but they do a horrible job of it, allowing one more bitten through the cracks? Quarantine takes a different approach to this theme–they show you what would happen with a proper containment. The problem is, they show you this from the inside.

And they show it through the lens of some spectacular handy-cam work. Probably the best I have ever seen, actually. Despite the few times that the camera purposefully lingers on a horrific scene in a heavy-handed way, most of the cinematography is absolute genius. There are some extremely long takes with wonderful acting, timing, and action. And one rat-stomping scene that I still can’t fully appreciate for its smoothness.

The premise behind the camera is that a local reporter is following a fire crew for the evening. The film starts with some entertaining banter between the female journalist (played by Dexter’s Jennifer Carpenter) and members of the fire department. These scenes get us attached and create a sense of excitement as the first call of the night comes in; and we are along for the ride.

What follows is absolutely horrific for its realism and hopelessness. As soon as it becomes evident that bad stuff is loose in the building, the residents and emergency crew discover that they’ve been sealed inside along with it. All attempts to get out are thwarted, and it becomes a game of survival, of quarantining the threat from within their own quarantined world.

And it is a world that gradually shrinks, both in survivors and space. And every one of them lost is another danger created in a domino effect of horror that keeps ramping up until the credits leave you panting and exhausted. After my wife caught her breath she looked at me, several minutes into the credits, and said, “I’ve never heard you scream like that”. Hell, the Jonas Brothers could play an all-girl middle school pep rally and never hear screams like that.

I’m not sure if Quarantine would work its magic on everyone like it did us. Something about the realism of the movie, the seamless filming and acting, and the sense of helplessness that came from having the outside world wait out your death… it really felt like we were trapped in this building and looking for a way out. I haven’t had this sensation of needing to look over my shoulder every five minutes since grade school.

Rent or buy this film. Turn off all the lights. Snuggle up to someone with a nice high-pitched wail, sharp fingernails, and a decent grip and see if Quarantine can knock a few years off your life. It is one of those rollercoasters that you get off of, not wanting to ever ride again, telling the next people in the queue, “You are gonna LOVE IT!”‘