Quarantine 2: Terminal
Mercedes Masöhn, Josh Cooke, George Back, Andrew Benator, Jason Benjamin, Lynn Cole
US theatrical: 17 Jun 2010 (Limited release)
Sequels suck - at least, that’s the general critical consensus. Remakes are regarded in even less flattering terms, unless that is, they are updates of already questionable (read: horror) material. Then, they get a pass - or a predetermined promise of horribleness. So imagine the sequel to a remake, a second take on an unnecessary translation that fails to follow the original’s spook scope and sensationalism. Doomed from definition alone, right? Frankly, you have no idea.
In 2007, Jaume Balagueró and Paco Plaza unleashed the brilliant [REC] on an unsuspecting fright fan base. Utilizing a first person POV perspective to tell of a zombie-like outbreak in a Spanish apartment building, the foreign fear fest went on to top many year-end ‘Best of’ lists. Two years later saw the release of the equally impressive [REC]2. Managing the amazing feat of being just as good as the original, Balaguero and Plaza expanded the mythology while expertly recapturing the elements that made their first film so memorable.
Of course, Hollywood had to step in and mess things up. First, they turned the masterful [REC] into the ever so slightly just above average Quarantine. Ditching most of the foreign film’s backstory for a “human rabies” like ideal, it was a decent, if derivative, adaptation. Nothing horrible, and yet nothing honorable. Now comes the wholly redundant sequel, Quarantine 2: Terminal. Dumping everything [REC]2 stood for and setting its standard scary movie machinations within an empty airport, this latest lamentable decision on Tinseltown’s behalf beleaguers an already obvious point. You can’t capture creepshow lightning in a bottle, nor can you expect audiences invested in the franchise to follow a blatant cash grab that has nothing to do with the source’s sense of dread.
It’s another red eye flight from LA to Nashville for flight crew members Jenny (Mercedes Masöhn) and Paula (Bre Blair). Discussing their various exploits from the night before, they anticipate a routine flight. Once onboard, things seem normal. Captain Forrest (John Curran) is fine, while Wilson the Co-Pilot (Andrew Benator) has a bad cold. As the passengers arrive, including an elderly man with Parkinsons, an affectionate young couple, an unaccompanied minor, a frustrated businessman, some loud mouthed marrieds, and an overweight golf nut, everything seems normal.
Then a high school teacher (Josh Cooke) with a carrier filled with hamsters (?) sheepishly boards, acting a tad suspicious. When one of the creatures bites someone, things start spiraling out of control. Soon, the plane is in distress, people are turning into monsters, and the survivors are sidetracked to an empty terminal in Las Vegas, where they are abruptly quarantined. Of course, the threat from response team is nothing compared to the evil hiding within the massive building…
Argh! Quarantine 2: Terminal is irritating…as irritating as [REC]2 is revelatory…as irritating as (non-returning) star of the original Quarantine, the yelping and squealing Jennifer Carpenter. This is a movie that mocks everything the Spanish original instigated, instead deciding to trade on the name and nullify everything that came before. The fate of the people in the apartment building? Who cares. What about that weird-ass creature in the attic? Forget about it. Angela’s last second drag off screen? It shouldn’t concern you. Whereas [REC]2 went right back to the ‘scene of the crime’ and filled in blanks, Quarantine 2 takes the virus and drops it into the middle of a mediocre SyFy Channel effort. In between all the posturing and predetermined horror beats, the claustrophobic feel generated by the series dissolves into a puddle of predictable shocks.
After all, how much macabre mileage can be earned by placing survivors in a vast dark space and then making things go “bump” in the prearranged night - over and over again. And since Quarantine 2 wants to meld this with a mystery involving the outbreak’s origins, we are forced to watch the narrative arch back and forth between information points and boring ‘boos.’ One moment, the characters are concerning themselves with who - or what - may be responsible for the plague. The next, they are being picked off. Nonsensical noises suggest a vast outbreak. The reality is more limited. Red Herrings fly with the frequency of F-bombs, while the entirety of the plot plays possum with relevancy. Yes, we know this is science fiction tinged horror, but does it all have to sound so…stupid?
One of the best things about [REC] was that it never let you in on the ruse. While it knew it was a movie, and you knew it was a movie, it played like a recognizable slice of life. When [REC]2 came along and copied/expanded that idea, it solidified its purpose. Quarantine 2 robs the Western version of the franchise of such a strategy. Instead, it decides to play pseudo-zombie, using the virus as a means of making monsters, nothing more. They are not used to generate intrigue or insight. Instead, they are spitting, hulking garbage that nullify the reason for the sequel to exist. Why take the plague outside the boundaries of the original building unless you intend to go apocalyptic on everyone? Instead, we get the usual cat and mouse accented by amateurish acting, weak dialogue, and an ending that hints at still more mediocrity to come.
The best way to describe Quarantine 2: Terminal is to take the worst elements of the neverending Resident Evil franchise, meld it to some senseless narrative vagueness about human rabies, delete all the potential suspense or dread, and then up the dopey factor. In a genre that consistently clamors for its own internal pointlessness, this is a perfect supporting argument. With the originals sitting out there like life saving beacons in a black cloud of otherwise commercialized crap, there’s just no real comparison. Trying to make an otherwise officious introduction even less relevant is never a good idea. [REC] and [REC]2 will forever remains creative classics. Quarantine and this limp also-ran will remains notorious - and especially in this case, noxious.
We all know how critical it is to keep independent voices alive and strong on the Internet. Please consider a donation to support our work as independent cultural critics and historians. Your donation will help PopMatters stay viable through these changing and challenging times where costs have risen and advertising has dropped precipitously. We need your help to keep PopMatters strong and growing. Thank you.