Movie Match Up: REC vs. Quarantine

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This is probably one of the most difficult Movie Match Ups I’ve ever had to do, if only because the movies which I’m comparing are so damn similar. It’s not very often that you find a remake that so closely resembles the film it’s remaking, to the point of being a near shot for shot remake. I already mentioned how close they were when I reviewed the Spanish film REC’s American remake Quarantine, but I don’t think I stressed how rare it is for remakes to come across as exact copies of the films they’re remaking. I’ve seen some that came close, Let Me In was very close to Let the Right One In (I’ve yet to read the book so I have no idea how close either is to that), The Grudge, for all its flaws, was still extremely similar to the Japanese film of the same name, and even the 1990 remake of Night of the Living Dead follows its predecessor’s story with a certain amount of precision (with the exception of a few character tweaks), but no remake I’ve ever seen has been quite this close before. Thankfully, there are just enough differences that one film does outweigh the other, and furthermore, one group of zombies would most assuredly win over the other. Our main character and television host Angela is about the same in both films though, with the exception of Jenifer Carpenter, Angela in Quarantine, not being nearly as annoying as Manuela Velasco’s portrayal of her in REC, if only because Angela never shuts up in REC and it gets on your nerves fairly quick, so I’m not really going to go into her with this movie match up other than what I’ve said here. I will warn you before you read, there will be spoilers. Even if Quarantine’s fucking movie posters and trailers ruined the end for anyone that saw them, I thought I’d be a little kinder and give you a forewarning. Okay, let’s take a look at our films.

REC: A late night television show called “While You Sleep” decides to spend the night with a Barcelona fire department for their program. During the course of that night a call comes in from an apartment building about a woman in trouble, and the television host and her camera man tail the firefighters there. They arrive at the building, meet up with two police officers on scene, and head up to the woman’s room only to find her standing around in a confused, unresponsive state, for a while at least. She suddenly attacks them, ripping a chunk out of an officer’s face and becoming wildly violent. The group rush out of the room and attempt to get the officer medical attention only to find the entire building sealed off. It seems a virus is spreading throughout the building and the occupants must be quarantined to prevent its release into the general populace. That means those trapped inside are on their own as the virus begins turning them into zombie like creatures hell bent on devouring or turning everyone still uninfected.

Quarantine: A late night television show called “Night Shift” decides to spend the night with a Los Angeles fire department for their program. During the course of the night a call comes in from an apartment building about a woman in trouble, and the television host and her camera man tail the firefighters there. They arrive at the building, meet up with two police officers on scene, and head up to the woman’s room only to find her standing around in a confused, unresponsive state, for a while at least. She suddenly attacks them, ripping a chunk out of an officer’s face and becoming wildly violent. The group rush out of the room and attempt to get the officer medical attention only to find the entire building sealed off. It seems a virus is spreading throughout the building and the occupants must be quarantined to prevent its release into the general populace. That means those trapped inside are on their own as the virus begins turning them into zombie like creatures hell bent on devouring or turning everyone still uninfected.

As you can see, both movies are pretty much the exact same thing, with the exception of location, actors, and the name of the show tailing the fire department. There are a few other minor differences or course, tiny changes to a few scenes that I talked about when I reviewed Quarantine that you can see here if you like, (Quarantine), but it’s mostly the same film. So how do I decide if the Spanish REC or the American Quarantine is better if they are so very similar? Well, there is one key difference between the two and that’s the level of tension, something REC pulls off much better than Quarantine. It’s not that there’s no tension in Quarantine, but it’s so much more amped up in REC for a few reasons:

  • The actors in REC were never given the entire script, so they never fully knew what was going to happen, meaning that many times the fear, shock, and anxiety you see in the actors is quite real. The actors in Quarantine on the other hand, while not bad at all, just couldn’t pull of the fear they all should have been feeling. I will say that Jennifer Carpenter does an amazing job herself though, especially at the end. She asked to never see the end set so that it would be more of a shock for her and it worked very well for her performance.
  • The camera is much steadier in REC so you get to pay more attention to the little details instead of constantly having to worry about the thing bouncing around and swaying like it was being filmed by a drunk. It still gets a little hectic when they have to run but that’s to be expected, and to be honest, it actually helps with the tension. You get the steady scenes that give you every detail, then it suddenly goes hectic, before settling down again and forcing you to refocus on what’s happening. Much of Quarantine on the other hand has a much shakier cam which takes you out of the story far too much, not to mention making you a little queasy.
  • There’s also the fact that Quarantine ruined its ending with all of its movie posters and trailers. As you can see at the top, they show you the very last scene so you already know what’s going to happen. If you’ve already seen REC before it probably doesn’t matter as you’d already know how it was going to end anyways, but if you hadn’t, it’d be ruined for you right when you picked up the DVD as it’s front and center on the cover.
  • Lastly and most importantly is the cameraman. In REC you will never see him as he’s always behind the camera. You see his shadow from time to time, you see his body once or twice when the camera is down, and you’ll hear him speak, but you will never see his face. This gave you the feeling that it was you behind the camera, and it sucked you further into the film, adding much to the tension. In Quarantine you see the cameraman’s face within the first five minutes of the movie, ruining that sense of being a part of the film.

So you can see that there are some definite reasons why the tension is so much better in REC, and why I believe that it is therefore the better film. I don’t think Quarantine is a bad film in the slightest, in fact quite the opposite, it’s a good film on its own, it’s just not as good as REC. The one reason for that is the tension, in the Spanish original, you feel incredibly tense the entire film because of how well the filmmakers handled it, that’s just not there in the remake. Otherwise they’re basically the same film, but if I had to pick one film over the other I’m going to pick REC as the better film.

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{It appears that neither Angela is happy with my decision}

Now we need to get on to the film’s villains, the zombie-like infected themselves. You’d think with the films being so similar and the only winning factor between them being the tension, it would be hard to pick a winner for a battle of the differing films’ undead, but there is one more difference I haven’t brought up yet because it’s a spoiler for REC, and that’s the cause of the zombie outbreak. In Quarantine, they let you know fairly early on that it’s a virulent form of rabies that can pass from animal to human, but in REC it is supposed to be more of a surprise, so if you don’t want to read that spoiler you might want to stop reading at this point. Otherwise, let’s take a look at the undead from the different films:

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{REC zombies vs. Quarantine zombies}

 

REC:

-Can take a huge amount of damage before going down

-Still able to move quickly despite their condition

-Ravenous need to consume human flesh

-Demonically possessed

-Demons force the possessed victim to attack anyone who isn’t possessed

-Once a person is bitten the demonic essence is transferred to the new host so that both the biter and the victim are now possessed

-Complete lack of morality allows the demons to do anything they please

-Demons seek to spread their influence outside of the building and thanks to having a demonic intelligence are prepared to do so

 

Quarantine:

-Can take a huge amount of damage before going down

-Still able to move quickly despite their condition

-Ravenous need to consume human flesh

-Rabies virus leaves them nearly insane

-Without any rational thought left they are capable of acting with wild abandon

-They pass the virus through their saliva so a bite will turn a bitten victim

-Should rabies virus escape the apartment building it could quickly spread through the population

Who would win? In my opinion it’s an easy choice, I think REC’s demonically possessed zombies would win. Both types are very similar in their abilities, but the demonically possessed zombies can still think, and that trait puts them leaps and bounds beyond Quarantine’s rabies effected zombies. The rabies zombies are essentially mindless beasts acting on pure instinct, much like fast moving film zombies from other zombie flicks, so I can’t see them as having much of a chance were they to go toe to toe with the demon zombies that can still control their actions. REC’s zombies also have a much better chance of getting out and spreading their brand of infection thanks to being able to formulate a plan, while the rabies victims are going to have to rely on both dumb luck and the ineptitude of the authorities. Not to mention, we are dealing with hell here, and you know they’ve got a long, detailed plan already set up, and hell versus some essentially mindless beast is a battle already set in hell’s favor. In the end I’m going to have to give the win to REC’s demonically possessed zombies.

 

The Undead Review

About The Undead Review

When I was alive I was an asshole and after I died remained pretty much the same, if not a little worse. You’d think becoming a member of the walking dead would mellow a person out, no more worrying about awkward small talk with people, no more having to be politically correct, and the entire world is your upright, bipedal buffet. Don’t get me wrong, it’s fun as hell to be a zombie, just somewhat irritating at times, especially those times you have to watch a lame movie or read a lame book. Thankfully, when I am forced to watch these films or read those books, I’ve got places like The Undead Review to bitch and moan to my heart’s content. {When he’s not devouring the living or sinking his teeth into a good film The Undead Review (Andy Taylor) spends his time writing his own stories or hunting down the paranormal. Oh, and did we mention his blind dog once saved the world?)
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