Thursday, October 16, 2008

Jason watches "Quarantine"

So back in 2005 I saw a funny little sex comedy at Indiefest called "The Dry Spell". Here's what I wrote about it at the time:
Next up was "The Dry Spell", featuring Chip Godwin's insane go-for-broke performance that won him the best actor award at Slamdance. Chip plays romantically inept Josey Fargo, who's been going through the titular and extended dry spell, and gives what is possibly the gutsiest comedy performance I've ever seen. The litany of his embarrassments is immense,and I won't list them here. I will mention two things: First, there is one line that's also in the trailer in which he offers a girl a "glass of red wine--ice cold!" Although I saw it in the trailer a couple of dozen times during the festival, it still cracks me up. Second, there is a voice-over narration
throughout the entire movie. Occasionally it gets distracting, but it works more often than not, and it helps the jokes come faster and allows him to flashback to previous girlfriends quickly. It kind of reminds me of "Arrested Development", except while "Arrested" uses voiceover as a bridge, in "The Dry Spell", it's the whole symphony. Almost makes it feel like an epic poem with visuals.
Now the reason I mention this is because writer/director brothers John Erick and Drew Dowdle who made "The Dry Spell" recently made one of the best, most effective mainstream horror movies I've seen. That's not to say "Quarantine" is a perfect movie. It relies heavily on handheld shaky-cam. Nothing inherently wrong with that--the technique was popularized with "Blair Witch" and jumped the shark with "Cloverfield". It's effective, but has now reached the point of cliche and that should be acknowledged.  There are a few scenes that are silly when they should be scary or elements that are way too predictable (the little girl, on both counts).  But it's a tight, well told story, with at least 4 distinct scenes that made me jump (and I like to think I'm jaded).

The story is simple--a late night TV public interest news hostess goes on a ride-along with some firefighters.  They respond to a medical call at an old building.  Once inside, they're locked in, as apparently the medical emergency is worse than they thought, and the CDC knows it.  First they try to escape, then just survive as some strain of super-rabies turn people into psychos.

Again, well done.  Now I hope to see their previous horror film, "The Poughkeepsie Tapes".

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