Rob Abrazado (flatvurm) wrote,
Rob Abrazado

Surprisingly good

Some time ago, I picked up a couple movie recs from, of all places, our friends at Gnome Stew, from an article suggesting a couple movies that would make good gaming scenario fodder. One was The Thing, the old Kurt Russell/John Carpenter horror staple. One was 30 Days of Night, which I watched a few days ago. The third was Quarantine, which I just now watched tonight.

The Thing I actually had seen fairly recently due to a little mini-block of Kurt Russell films I decided to indulge in. Yeah, it happens. Sue me.

30 Days of Night takes place in the town of Barrow, Alaska, which, in the movie, undergoes a yearly month-long nightfall, and on this particular year is set upon by vampires who take advantage of the sunless time for fun and profit frolic. In the final analysis, I could take it or leave it. It was an all-right film, but nothing special.

Quarantine, though, I really enjoyed, and I enjoyed it enough that I figured I'd pass on the recommendation. It's a remake of a Spanish film called REC, a preview of which was included on the DVD I got, but which I haven't, myself, seen. I found Quarantine to be a really well-done horror flick, in my own narrow view of things. As we all know, I'm not much of a horror film guy, but this one really drew me in. I thought it was very well-constructed and, as far as these things can go, well-presented.

The whole movie is shown from the perspective of a single hand-held camera, a technique I think we know has been handled poorly from time to time, but it really works well for this film. Rather, I feel they made it work well. The storyline of the movie is that it's being shot as part of a television series where this, uh, TV chick runs around and films herself hanging out at people's night jobs. On this particular occasion, she's hanging with some firemen, and after goofing around in the firehouse for a while, they finally get called out to an apartment building, but not so much for a fire as for just medical response. Upon their arrival at the scene, freaky shit starts to go down, and the movie takes off.

I think the handheld perspective was really, er, handled well. There was a bit of a motion-sickness quotient, to be honest, but it wasn't, I feel, done for effect, and it wasn't overdone, which was certainly nice. I lack the vocabulary, really, to explain why I was so taken by the production of the film, but I just thought there was a lot of genius around the framing and the direction of the photography. It was suspenseful without being frustrating, and it was exciting without being ham-handed. I felt they struck an excellent balance between showing things in order to be scary and not showing things in order to be scary. Very well done.

There was also a lot to be said for the character portrayals. A lot of horror movies, especially the ones I consider to lean more toward the "action" end of the genre spectrum, feature "victims" that rise to the challenge and transform into action-packed ass-kickers. I have nothing in particular against this trope, by the way, I just like it in an action setting and not necessarily in a horror setting. There's also the kind of movie where people just quail and die in the face of monstrous opposition, and while that also has its place, it's not exactly my cup of tea. This movie, though, hit it just right, I felt, and it was basically just the chronicle of people being placed in a shitty situation, panicking a lot, having meltdowns here and there, but all in all doing what they had to do. Or what they felt they had to do, rather, which is even better. There wasn't exactly a lot of calm level-headedness to be featured in this story, but what the fuck, bad shit is going down, you know? There weren't really even any heroes, per se. Like I said...just people freaking out and trying to make it. Somehow this strikes me as more...I don't know...true to life, if I can say such a thing about a totally fantastical situation.

The lead in the film is one Jennifer Carpenter, who's name rang a bell, and who looked incredibly familiar to me, but I knew not from whence. During the whole movie I sat there trying to work out where I knew her from. I found myself continually drawn to appreciating the lines of her face. She had a lovely face, and I associated it with a kind of...I don't know...happy but intense character that I couldn't quite pin down. This happens a lot...if I see a familiar face that I can't quite place, I often associate it with a kind of personality or something if I can't remember the actual character or actor. The feeling I got from this face was...well, sassy, somehow. Someone you'd trade friendly jibes with, but wouldn't really fuck around with, cuz that would be bad news. It drove me crazy. Anyway...after the movie I went and looked her up. Duh...she's Dexter's sister. Heh.

The only other person I recognized was Greg Germann, who I recognized immediately as that dude Fish on Ally McBeal. Mercifully, he didn't play a smarmy Lothario in this movie. Less excitingly, he didn't play much of anything in this movie. :) Like...there wasn't all that much to his character. But, that's fine; I still dig you, Fish.

So anyway. I've deliberately not said too much about the actual story of the film, just because...well, one, it's a horror movie, and how much story do you really need to know? And two, its also a pretty successful suspense film, so I don't want to, you know, take away from the suspense of it all. :) There is some gore, but it's not a splatter film by any means. There is lots of death. There is lots of fear. If you feel like taking on some of that, then by all means, I recommend giving Quarantine a try. Watch it in the dark! :)

* * *

In life news, I've been working a lot, and I've also been various modes and levels of sick lately, so I haven't been around so much on the blogging front. So...movies it is. :) Peace, everybody! :)
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