Since I got back from Sundance, I've been watching any and everything I have here in the house on BluRay, just to see how good things can look and how bad some source material looks on the screen. And when my buddy Scott came over on Saturday and wanted to watch something new, we ended up putting in one of the discs that showed up while I was away, the new Sony BluRay release of "Quarantine."
Yes, I think it's a criminal shame that a new film as good as "[REC]" didn't get widely distributed and seen here in the U.S. Having said that, the remake happened. A year after the original. And the filmmakers they attached to the American version worked their asses off to make sure that they made a film that would work on its own. I like the Dowdles as filmmakers. Their movie "The Poughkeepsie Tapes" turned out to be one of the most controversial things I ever programmed at any event I was part of, so I hoped that "Quarantine" would be at least a decent effort from them.
I think it's more than that, though. I think "Quarantine" is a great haunted house. It's not really a movie in a conventional sense, because it's such a linear, experiential event that calling it a movie sort of does it a disservice. In the theater, it leaned heavily on the "shot on video" gimmick, but this BluRay transfer is a whole different thing. It looks like they just used the high-def master and did a direct transfer. The result is sort of eye-popping if you watch it at 1080p. There's a good chance that a number of filmmakers who are just now gearing up will never work on film. That's sort of mind-boggling. I remember when the mere suggestion of shooting a feature film on video would have been laughed at, and now it's more than an option... it's gaining ground as the first choice for many people.
The DVD has a commentary by the Dowdles and a couple of behind-the-scenes featurettes, and I wish they'd devoted one entire piece to the editing of the film, one of the invisible threads holding this complicated sleight-of-hand together. If you can't get past the idea of the remake, don't bother, but if you're interested in seeing a really smart and slick horror film, "Quarantine" is at least worth a rental.