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One of the Creepiest Movies of the Past 10 Years...
on August 26, 2009
I am going to assume that, if you are reading this, you already know that this movie is the original predecessor to the recent American film Quarantine. As of this writing, I have not seen that film, so I cannot fully compare the two. However, I will note that it seems the only positive reviews of the American adaptation came from those who did not view this movie first.
That being said, if you have seen and enjoyed Quarantine, I will wager that you will like this this movie. In fact, I consider this to be one of a very few "Must See" horror movies from the past 10 years.
The story is simple, and has been relayed in countless other reviews here, so I will keep the synopsis short:
A TV show hostess visits a local firehouse for an evening to see what a fireman's life is like, and upon finding that it can be boring, wishes there were some sort of call to go on. Soon enough, she gets her wish, as the firemen are called to an apartment building to rescue an old woman, something the firemen view as a routine call. However, upon arriving at the building, the group finds that things are not as routine as they expected, and they are quickly sealed in until further notice due to a possible outbreak of disease, with all contact to the outside world severed. As tensions rise among the tenants, the hostess and camera man set about documenting what they feel "the public needs to know." What they find is more horrific than they could ever imagine...
And now for my opinion:
The scares in this movie are not your typical "jumpers," meaning that they do not come from cheap musical effects while someone comes around a corner. No, the real scares here come from the dark, claustrophobic, hallways of the building and the noises coming from off camera. In short, the atmosphere of the film creates an edge-of-your-seat type of tension that slowly builds until something shocking pushes it over the top; where it begins all over again. In fact, even the things that I knew were about to happen still managed to scare me; something that is very rare these days.
The movie also doesn't resort to cheap gore effects to frighten the viewer. Now don't get me wrong, I like the red stuff just as much as the next guy, but it seems too many movies these days are just laying it on to get a reaction. This doesn't mean that there is no blood in this film. In fact, there is quite a bit of blood, but none of it is spilled without any reason or effect. The same can be said for the "monsters" in the film. For most of the time, they are kept just off camera (though you can hear their odd noises in the background all along), but when they reveal themselves you certainly get the effect that the filmmakers intended. And while I'm on the subject, the "monsters" are not zombies, as people have taken to calling them; they are people who have been infected by something that is not clearly revealed (though it is hinted at during the final climax).
The less-is-more approach used in this movie was perfect because, luckily, the directors kept the running time on the short side at a lean 73 minutes or so. This means that the movie avoids the dragging feeling that most others of it's type wind up producing (Blair Witch anyone?). Granted, the first 20 minutes or so (when the hostess is at the firehouse) are a little slow, but during that time you are basically getting to know the characters who will become your main focus, and this helps make what happens to them later all the more unpleasant. That being said, you must also keep in mind that once they get to the apartment building, the pace picks up greatly and the scares remain constant up through the last 10 minutes or so, where the situation explodes into a veritable frenzy of scares and suspense. In fact, these 10 minutes are the perfect culmination to the build-ups before them. Think of it as a roller coaster where they save the giant hill for last...
In short, I think that all horror fans should really take a chance and watch this movie. Additionally, I would strongly advise against viewing the remake beforehand as I have the feeling that it may ruin the suspense since you will know everything that is in store and I've heard that it is much less atmospheric.