QUARANTINE 2: TERMINAL (Samuel Goldwyn Films): Looking more like an above average SyFy Original than the Dowdle brothers’ brilliant QUARANTINE (itself a perfect remake of the great Spanish chiller REC), QUARANTINE 2: TERMINAL is a fun, if unambitious followup to the original film. NOT a remake of REC 2, but basically ‘QUARANTINE on an airplane.’Writer/director John Pogue (THE SKULLS) deserves props for one ballsy idea–the film ostensibly occurs while the original film is taking place in L.A.. As with QUARANTINE, the plot is NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD in reverse–in an effort to limit the epidemic, everyone is forced to remain in the place they took shelter in.
As with the first film, Eli Roth’s CABIN FEVER, Danny Boyle’s 28 DAYS LATER and the George Romero zombie films, the question is: who will get infected next and how much damage will they cause before they are taken out? It’s also great to have a film series where an ostensibly normal line like “The CDC is here” is actually quite menacing.
The heroines (CHUCK’s Mercedes Masohn and CHERRY FALLS’ Bre Blair) are both appealing and likable, but not given as much to do as Jennifer Carpenter in the original. To his credit, unlike most recent ‘siege’ horror films, Pogue–in his directorial debut–keeps everything moving and it’s never boring.
Robert Hall’s Almost Human, who provided the truly revolting fx of the first film, are this film’s MVPs. They do amazingly sickening work here–with this and THE CRAZIES, they have pretty much cornered the fx market on red eyes, runny noses and vomiting blood. Unfortunately, this time out they are not given setpieces as horrifying as Doug Jones’ weird naked maniac or the baby in the first film.
As Jenny, Mercedes Masohn is approproately plucky to make you root for her survival. She and Bre Blair have a natural friendship chemistry onscreen and the opening where the two prep the plane for takeoff is both credible and interesting. The passengers are all archtypes from ’70s Airport movies: the Fat Drunk, The Angry Guy Threatening To Sue Everybody, The Batty Old Lady With The Cat, The Kid, The Guy With The Secret, The Couple Having Sex On The Plane (Hey–haven’t seen that cute cliche’ since SNAKES ON A PLANE! No nudity or extreme payoff to their coupling here, though)
What made the first QUARANTINE and REC so scary is its willingness to target any character, from baby, dog, little girl, to firefighter or even our own heroine, nobody was safe, while here, there’s a curious pullback on savagery. At one point, The Kid is in danger and another character is bitten in his place even though the kid was in the dark with the infected person for much longer–but he implausibly survives. Why didn’t the maniac bite the boy? “Because you can’t kill kids in horror films”. Didn’t they see the first one? NOBODY was safe!
Nice to see Sanda Ellis Lafferty (from the great Christopher Walken angel movie THE PROPHECY) as a nutty passenger and infected labrats running around provide goofy fun. D.p Matthew Irving, who shot WAITRESS and MONSTER MAN, keeps things moving at a fast clip, makes it look good and Pogue struggles mightily against his low budget.
Considering that Pogue shot most of the film on 1/5th the budget of the first film, on a flight simulator in Georgia, he makes it better than it has a right to be. Fun fact: Many TV shows set episodes on airplanes as inexpensive “bottle” shows–it keeps things relatively inexpensive on one or two standing sets, which is probably why it is used as a setting here. Like CABIN FEVER 2, this film tries to replicate the highlights of the first film in a smaller venue.
Samuel Goldwyn Films will have screenings of the film around the country this weekend to test interest.