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Sunday, October 12, 2008


I’m sure most of you are asking yourselves “What would a delicate flower like moi know about being in Quarantine?” After all, being a paragon of virtue has become a burden I carry for the generations who have grown up since my youth, so that they will learn to be chaste and discerning young adults and avoid the pitfalls that lead to Quarantine. Doesn’t that sound nice? It’s so much better than saying I don’t want all the young’uns I know at the movie theater to screw around with everything that moves and end up with some skanky disease that will get them tossed into lockdown by the Department of Health ~ or worse, by the CDC. Trust me, I know about these things.
When I was a young-un, the world was celebrating the coming of “The Age of Aquarius” and so everybody was enjoying the “sexual revolution” of the time. Yes children, even today’s grandparents were swapping spouses at ‘key parties’, which is probably enough to make you go “Ewwww” when you pause to think about it. It’s just possible your grandma and grandpa were swingers, and for people in their early 20s, the world was an open bed. What we didn’t know was that it was also a lot of open sores. Yes, Yours Truly discovered the hard way that Hepatitis B is not just something other people got, and, at least at the time, it was enough to get a person sealed in their apartment like a salmon in a Glad™ Seal-and-Forget-About-It Freezer Bag with a gi-normous
Quarantine sign slapped on the front door. So not only did I get sicker than a dog that ate rancid skunk, I turned the color of a Simpson (Homer or Marge, not O.J.), but I also bore the indignity of everyone in my apartment building, affectionately known as “Vaseline Flats”, knowing I was now a social and sexual pariah.

If only the residents of an unnamed building in Los Angeles were so lucky. In the movie
Quarantine, television reporter Angela Vidal (Jennifer Carpenter; tv’s “Dexter”) and her cameraman Scott Percival (Steve Harris;
Ball Don't Lie) pick the wrong time to shadow a fire company because, as it turns out, they end up in this same building with the residents when the firemen answer an emergency call from the landlord concerning a tenant who appears to be sick, disoriented and creating a huge disturbance, especially odd since she’s a little old lady. With the camera still rolling, Angela follows hunky EMTs Jake (Jay Hernandez; Hostel 2) and George (Johnathon Schaech; Prom Night) as they meet up with the grumpy granny, Mrs. Espinoza (Jeannie Epper; I Heart Huckabees), and I can tell you right now that Mrs. E looks like she’s spent the last week flying on some “E” without even a drop of water to quench her thirst, if you know what I mean. This hag looks like she is ready for Halloween and they’ve already told us this is supposedly taking place on March 11th.

So begins the saga of Quarantine. In the next 90 minutes, the evening rushes by, showing the shocking and stressful events of the night, many reminiscent of George Romero’s classic Night of the Living Dead, but also with nods to 28 Days Later, Lord of the Flies, and camera work straight out of Cloverfield. It is a delicious mixture of screams and jumps, that even when you know they are coming you won’t be able to help yourself from responding to like you are a ten year old kid.

Quarantine is based in a Spanish film called REC, but this version is surprisingly more based in reality as what is eating the residents of this complex (besides each other) is a bizarre virus, rather than something of a supernatural origin. In some ways this intensifies the fear and makes the movie all the more American in nature. Since 9/11 we’ve become a nation driven by paranoia of just about everybody, including suspicions of our own government (with good reason). We collectively live with an uneasy dread of an impending crisis, possibly a viral or biological attack from who-knows-where. Suddenly, all that is a terrible reality to the people inside this building, and before they can even grasp what their circumstances truly are, the help they expect from the police is not only not coming, but these same police and the Centers for Disease Control are sealing the building in, jamming all the phones, and cutting the power so that the dozen or so inhabitants trapped inside are on their own, and with no means of escape. Thankfully, the cast here is relatively diverse, but virtually free of the curse of most horror movies ~ teenagers ~ so instead we are treated to some actual actors who can do that, act, and the performances of Columbus Short (This Christmas) as the stretched-beyond-his-limits police officer Danny Wilensky, and Greg Germann (Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby) as a tenant and veterinarian called into service as a doctor to the injured and afflicted humans in a rapidly spreading scourge he doesn’t understand, both offer substance above what one usually expects in a movie of this genre .

I felt just like these poor schlubs when I had Hepatitis B. The nurse from the Department of Heath told me I could file for unemployment since I’d be out of work for months while I recovered, but the Department of Employment and Labor told me I’d have to come in to their office to apply, which, of course, I wasn’t supposed to do since I was under
Quarantine (and I was so sick I couldn’t get out of bed except to get to the bathroom, and even that was a major event of the day).

After seeing
Quarantine I wish it had come out about 30 years ago. If I’d seen it then I know I’d have been tempted to call a cab and then take a bite out of the caseworker at the Department of Employment and Labor who was so inflexible when I explained my situation to her. I swear, they say some people have a 2 x 4 shoved up the back end of them. She must have had the whole lumber yard up there. She could use a few years in Quarantine, if you ask me, which you didn’t, but I’m just sayin’.

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