Reviewed by Nomad
Starring Jennifer Carpenter, Johnathon Schaech, Jay Hernandez, Steve Harris, Columbus Short, Rade Serbedzija
Directed by John Erick Dowdle
YEAAA! Shakey Cam, Motherfuckers!!
Just thought I’d get that out there in a positive way right off the bat. Quarantine is the story of Angela Vidal (Carpenter), ace reporter, saddled with telling the riveting, true story of a random LA fire department, and YOU are along for the ride of your life through the POV of the cameraman. Through an exhaustive tour of the firehouse, we learn where they keep their boots, bunk down, and most importantly for Angela, how the pole works. Oh yes … she works the pole. For some reading this, you are already sold. Admit it.
Just when you thought you couldn’t handle any more dirty firehouse hijinks, the alarm sounds and the truck speeds off to aid the citizens of NY. As you’ve all seen in the trailer, commercials, and incessant sneak previews on just about every channel I’ve hit this week, the call is answered and chaos takes over. In no time flat, confusion turns to horror, and upon attempting to bring in back-up, our heroes find themselves sealed into the building at gunpoint. No cell phones, no cable, no motorcars … not a single luxury. Like Robinson Crusoe … with an undisclosed illness turning the rest of Gilligan’s crew into bloodthirsty creeps of course.
The rest of this movie plays like a very slow version of 28 Days Later without the cool music and a complete lack of intensity, wasted horror makeups we fly past on the wings of the almighty shakey cam, and throwaway performances from a group of actors, the bulk of whom I generally enjoy seeing in movies. Quarantine is hard to watch, and I don’t mean because it is horribly slow and uninteresting. It is physically hard to watch as the camera jumps around, zooms in and out quickly, and shifts from person to person as if it can’t find the spot it meant to focus on. To emphasize my point, in the last minutes of this film, I realized Dania Ramirez (the formerly evil hotty from “Heroes”) was in her underwear the entire time … and I didn’t even notice. This made me a little sad.
Because Quarantine has a single perspective, it is pointless to talk about cinematography. There does seem to be some attempt to play around with lighting, either via the spot mounted on the camera or rooms the characters flee into, but it only succeeded in adding to the confusion created by the camera movement. Less light, no matter how dramatic, means less understanding of what is going on in a space. When the action finally reached some semblance of momentum, I couldn’t even figure who was still alive. Without the ability to root for your favorite characters (whom we’ve only met for 3 minutes anyway), we are forced to constantly fall back to little Angela, whose antics in the firehouse were so high school cheerleader-esque, it was as if she was the bikini clad weather girl who made out with the lead anchor man for a shot at the occasional fluff piece. In my experience with horror films, and my own personal taste, that is the character you are most anticipating receiving a cruel and swift death. The film trudges on, rolling out conveniently timed scares you saw coming with ample time to lean over and tell a friend. Not a successful jump scare in the lot. In fact, there are no scares to be found throughout.
It hardly seems worth mentioning individual acting performances with all the information above at your disposal. Rade Serbedzija (AKA that cool Russian guy) mumbles in the background of scenes, hardly ever even visible. Greg Germann delivers one funny line and then becomes the guy who delivers plot information so ridiculously tied to his profession that it proves even more comical. Johnathon Schaech (AKA the pedophile stabby killer from Prom Night) wears a vintage 1980’s mustache and spits out forced lewd comments by the fistful. Let me just skip the rest and lay it to rest with Jennifer Carpenter (your reporter), who flails her arms, stares longingly into the camera with her best face of desperation, and appears to be hyperventilating for an hour straight. I’ll give her extra points for never passing out. To be fair to this cast, as I’ve said, I’ve seen most of them in far better work, acting on a completely different level. It’s as if they all knew they were performing in a B-movie gone horribly wrong and phoned it in.
An entire movie set in a sealed off, old school apartment building with terror around every corner should convey a severe sense of claustrophobia in every shot. Quarantine may as well have been filmed in a warehouse. This is just another missed opportunity that should never have been attempted in the first place. When high production values and superior special effects we are only allowed to look at for 2 seconds at a time are the only compliments I can muster, there is something seriously wrong. Having not seen REC, the Spanish original, I can’t go on to make comparisons or advise you to see the original, but I can only imagine it must be better than this. Sadly, this is not the worst horror film I’ve seen all year, but it is hardly worth your 10 bucks this weekend.
1 1/2 out of 5
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Totem Review – It’s Not Always A Bad Thing To Look Up From The Bottom Level, If You Like That View
Starring Kerris Dorsey, James Tupper, Ahna O’Reilly
Directed by Marcel Sarmiento
Following the untimely death of a family’s matriarchal figure, a young woman finds out that managing to hold all of the pieces in place becomes increasingly more difficult when otherworldly infiltrators make their presence felt. We’re going to have to work our way up this Totem, as
17 year old Kellie is the leading lady of the home following the passing of her mother Lexy, and with a needy father and tiny tot of a baby sister, she still keeps things in working order, regardless of the rather large hole that’s been left in the dynamic due to the death. Kellie’s dad after a while decides to ask his lady-friend to move in with the family, so that everyone can move onto a more peaceful existence…yeah, because those types of instances always seem to work seamlessly. As fate would have it, Kellie’s sense of pride is now taking a beating with the new woman in the mix, and her little sister’s new “visitor” is even more disturbed by this intruder – only question is, exactly who is this supernatural pal of sorts? Is it the spirit of their dead mother standing by to keep watch over the family, or is it something that’s found its way to this group, and has much more evil intentions at hand?
What works here is the context of something innately malicious that has found its way into the home – there are only a couple moments that come off as unsettling, but the notion of having to weave through more than half the film acting as a sullen-teen drama is rather painful. The presentation of the “broken family” is one that’s been done to death, and with better results overall, and that’s not to say that the movie is a complete loss, it just takes far too much weeding through at times stale performances and even more stagnant pacing to get to a moderately decent late-stage conclusion to the film. Under the direction of Marcel Sarmiento (Deadgirl), I’d truly hoped for something a bit more along the lines of a disturbing project such as that one, but the only thing disturbing was the time I’d invested in checking this one out. My best advice is to tune into the Lifetime channel if you want a sulky teen-melodrama with a tinge of horror, or you could simply jump into this one and work your way up…but it’s a LONG way to the top.
Sulky, moody, and ridden with teen-angst buried in the middle of a supernatural mystery – SOUNDS like a decent premise, doesn’t it?
IAMX’s Alive in New Light Review – A Dark, Hypnotic, and Stunning Musical Endeavor
Recording eight albums is an achievement no matter the artist, group, or band. This is especially true for Chris Corner’s IAMX, his solo project after the trip hop group Sneaker Pimps, which has enchanted listeners since 2004’s Kiss + Swallow with its dark electronic aesthetic. There’s something fascinating about the music Corner puts out as IAMX. Perhaps it’s the underlying melancholy that seems to pervade the music, almost certainly a result of the musician’s battle with depression and chronic insomnia [Source]. Perhaps it’s the unexpected melodies that reveal themselves with each new measure. Whatever it is, IAMX’s music is a constant delight.
On Alive in New Light, Corner reveals that his eighth album was a product he created as a way of “…breaking free from demons that have long plagued him,” per an official press release. Strangely enough, this uplifting attitude may easily be overlooked but repeat listens unveil a sense of hope and wonder that are simply breathtaking. The title track echoes with almost angelic choir pads that positively shine as Corner exultingly cries in a shimmering falsetto, “I’m alive in new light!” This comes after the Depeche Mode-esque “Stardust”, which offers the first collaboration with Kat Von D, whose pure voice is a beautiful addition to the pulsating track.
The third track, “Break The Chains”, has an opening that immediately called to mind Birds of Tokyo’s “Discoloured”, which is meant as a compliment. It’s followed by the Nine Inch Nails influenced “Body Politics”, which meshes Corner’s crooning vocals with a 90’s industrial backdrop. “Exit” has an almost sinister progression lurking in the background that builds to an aggressive, in-your-face third act. The cinematic Middle Eastern flairs of “Stalker” mutate effortlessly into a heartbeat pulse that features back-and-forth vocals between Corner and Von D. The haunted circus vibe that permeates through “Big Man” is mirrored by its playful gothic aura, ghostly “oohs” and “aahs” sprinkled carefully here and there.
While the album has been a delight up to this point, it’s the final two tracks that took my breath away and left me stunned. “Mile Deep Hollow” builds layer after layer while Corner passionately cries out, “So thank you/you need to know/that you dragged me out/of a mile deep hollow/and I love you/you brought me home/because you dragged me out/of a mile deep hollow.” The way the song’s melodies back these wonderfully uplifting lyrics feels grand and epic, as though a journey is coming to an end, which is where “The Power and the Glory” comes in. Far more subdued, it’s a beautiful song that feels almost like a religious experience, a hymn of a soul that is desperate to claw its way to salvation and escape a life of pain and darkness.
What makes Alive in New Light so wonderful is how much there is to experience. I got the album and listened to it no less than five times in a row without pause. I simply couldn’t turn it off because each return revealed something new in the music. Corner also makes fantastic use of Von D’s vocals, carefully placing them so as to make them a treat and not a commonplace certainty.
While some may be disappointed that there are only nine tracks, each of the songs is carefully and meticulously crafted to be as powerful and meaningful as possible. It really is a stunning accomplishment and I’m nothing short of blown away by how masterfully Alive in New Light plays out.
IAMX’s Alive in New Light is a triumph of music. Full of beauty and confidence, it doesn’t forget the foundation that fans have come to know and love for over a decade but instead embraces that comfortable darkness with open arms. Corner states that this album was a way to break free from his demons. It certainly feels like he’s made peace with them.
The Hatred Review – A History Lesson Dug Up From The Depths Of Hell
Starring Zelda Adams, Lulu Adams, John Law
Directed by John Law
I don’t know about the scholastic interests the masses had (or have) that read all of the killer nuggets that get cranked out on this site, but when I was an academic turd, one of my true passions was history, and it was one of the only subjects that managed to hold my interest, and when the opportunity arose to check out John Law’s ultra-nightmarish feature, The Hatred – I was ready to crack the books once again.
The setting is the Blackfoot Territory in the late 1800s, and the pains of a lengthy conflict have taken their toll on the remaining soldiers as food has become scarce, and the film picks up with soldiers on the march in the brutal cold and snow covered mountainside. In tow is a P.O.W. (Law), and the decision is made by the soldiers to execute him in earnest instead of having to shorten their rations by feeding him, so he is then hung (pretty harshly done), and left to rot as the uniformed men trudge along. A short time later the group encounters a small family on the fringes of the territory, and when the demands for food are rebuked, the slaughter is on and the only survivor is a young girl (Adams) who prays to an oblivious god that she can one day reap the seeds of revenge upon those who’ve murdered her family. We all know that there are usually two sides to any story, and when the good ear isn’t listening, the evil one turns its direction towards those who need it most, and that’s when the Devil obliges.
The answer to the young girl’s prayers comes in the resurrection of the prisoner that was hung a short time ago, and he has been dubbed “Vengeance” – together their goal will be achieved by harshly dishing out some retribution, and the way it’s presented is drawn-out, almost like you’re strapped into the front-row pew of a hellfire-cathedral and force-fed the sermon of an evil voice from the South side of the tracks. It’s vicious and beautiful all at once, Law’s direction gives this visually-striking presentation all the bells and whistles to please even the harshest of critics (hell, you’re reading the words of one right now). The performances, while a bit stoic in nature, still convey that overall perception of a wrong that demands to be righted, no matter how morally mishandled it might be. Overall, I can absolutely recommend The Hatred for not only those wanting a period-piece with ferocious-artistry, but for others who continue to pray with no response, and are curious to see what the other side can offer.
The Hatred is a visually-appealing look into the eyes of animus, and all of the beauty of returning the harm to those who have awarded it to others.
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