Images from links source, Wikipedia
[WARNING: Here there may be spoilers. But not much.]
OK, so I had something of a lazy weekend (not counting many hours working on my Windows 7 upgrade). I have an excuse in that my back is bothering me, and I'm trying to avoid throwing it out altogether. So, I watched some movies. And this being nearly Halloween, I decided on some of today's recent horror offering.
The first one I selected was Quarantine, apparently a remake of a Spanish horror movie. It stars Jennifer Carpenter and Jay Hernandez, and is fairly well made. There is the problem with the central conceit of the film, that a news reporter is playing tag-along with some firemen. Not only does this lead to a seemingly endless setup, with the cameraman following the lovely female reporter around the firehouse, it also means that the entire film is from the perspective of the news camera.
I get that these kinds of things are kind of interesting and different. Something similar was done with Cloverfield, and I guess that new movie Paranormal Activity. But it grows a little tiresome in this one, and stretches credibility sometimes. This cameraman is one freaking cool cucumber given what he's shooting. Anyway, the story involves some sort of disease that turns people into zombies/creatures, kind of like in 28 Days Later. The twist is, the news people and the firemen are trapped in a building while the virus takes its toll.
Quarantine does have high tension, squirm inducing special effects, and a few genuine shocks. The film is well crafted, and well acted too, though Carpenter will begin to drive you nuts when she has her little breakdown. The only problem with the film? Well, the ending was spoiled by the trailer. And me telling you that won't change anything, because if you've seen the trailer (or even the cover of the DVD), you'll have been wondering, "When is THAT going to happen?" And by the time it does, you are well aware you've reached the end. FAIL.
My second choice was The Last House on the Left. It's a remake of a classic, cheapie Wes Craven film, by Wes Craven himself. The subject matter is harsh, and hard-core. It involves the brutal attack and rape of a couple of teen aged girls, and the scene where this happens is almost unbearable. We get it, Wes, we get it! Move on! But an argument could be made that the brutality is necessary for us to believe what happens next.
As in the original film, the group of attackers coincidentally seeks refuge at the home of one of the young women. Eventually, the hospitable parents deduce what happened, and who dunnit, and then you've got yourselves a revenge picture! The formula works, and the acting is decent. There are cringe-inducing moments, and a jolt here and there. I was along for the ride until. . .the ending. No, this one wasn't spoiled it was just stupid. Great special effect, don't get me wrong. But up until that point, a story could have been spun that would have gotten the couple off scot free. After that point? Well, there's no way you could sell that as self defense, or even an accident. Considering how the "big bad" was done away with in the original, it was all anticipation, and a weird payoff.
Over all, both films are worthy of a rent, particularly in your Halloween movie viewing marathon. Just don't expect a kick-ass ending to either one, and you'll be fine.
UPDATE: I just wanted to add, that I didn't realize that Krug, the big bad from Last House was played by Garret Dillahunt until I just read the Wikipedia article. He was one of the stars of the late, lamented Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, and I managed to watch and review the film without even realizing who he was. Who knew that a beard and his demented character could render him unrecognizable? That's acting. And hey, if T:TSCC had featured him shirtless, as this movie did, that show might still be on the air!