Quarantine Blu-ray Review
”Quarantine” is presented in widescreen 1.85:1 with MPEG-4 AVC 1080p coding.
As is to be expected from a movie shot completely in HD the print quality is pristine with zero video compression artefacts. In the brighter opening scenes all detail is very well defined with colours and flesh tones spot on throughout. Creases and dirt on the firemen's jackets, the ribbed pattern on Angela's sweater and detail in the fire station (such as the floor tiles) are clearly visible. As we move to the darker setting of the apartment building detail is still present although only really shines when the camera light illuminates. Some of the infected attack scenes are punctuated with a misty spray of blood that is very well defined, for example, when Ms. Espinoza is shot the fabric of her nightshirt takes on the red blood colour with great realism. In fact all the bloody scenes in this movie are very well captured (especially the close up of the broken leg) with subtleties such as sweat, dried blood, slavers of rabid spittle and other secretions present on the clothes of the infected. Some of the scenes, especially the static crowd shots or the long shots from the upper floors of the apartment building, demonstrate good depth.
During the darker scenes in the apartment block there's a complete absence of grain (again thanks to the HD recording process) with no evidence of blocking. The dark scenes also serve to display some great shadow detail in the apartments with books, pictures and other contents all clearly visible in the gloom and highlighted when the camera light shines upon them. The end night vision scene contains some magnificent deep, solid blacks that are dispersed by the thin beam from the camera only to return and dominate when the camera moves on.
It seems that the colour palette has been muted to some degree to maintain the drab nature of the old apartment block. Although there's no great changes in colour vibrancy there is a very well defined difference in colour tonality with, for example, great representation of the rust brown/blue walls of the apartment building or the dried darker blood shades overlain with lighter coloured fresh blood on Ms. Espinoza's nightdress. The only colour that really shone through the slightly muted palette was Jake's yellow fire jacket with the fluorescent strip almost glowing in the darker scenes - this may have been a conscious choice to highlight Jake as the shining hero.
Although very well presented the restricted environment of the apartment block, crushing nature of the gloom and limited, slightly washed out colour palette all reduce the full capabilities of BD.
“Quarantine” comes with a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 soundtrack.
As mentioned “Quarantine” does not contain any score so Dowdle relies on constant ambient noise activity to take the place of background music. I have to say that this is an extremely active surround mix with constant activity from all speakers with great interjection from the LFE channel when required.
During the opening scenes in the fire station this soundtrack shows some good potential. The deep rumbling of the fire engine (with engine rev's and gear changes) has great LFE extension as the wailing sirens and warning announcements completely fill the soundstage. Once the action moves onto the apartment block the surrounds get more involved with helicopters and police sirens clearly audible outside the building. The building itself also composes its own score with deep seated ominous groans and clanking water pipes adding to the atmosphere. p>
The helicopter effects really sound fantastic with some of the best directionality displayed since “Black Hawk Down”. The choppers fly around and over the listening field with great precision and variation. The LFE also comes into play with the close up chopper scene at the window of the apartment block producing a chopping bass effect giving the impression that the helicopter blades are directly beneath the viewer. There is also great front separation with some of the siren's appearing to come from well beyond the plane of the soundstage. Other effects such as the wheezing of the infected and the satisfying crunch of boot on zombie skull are crystal clear in the mix.
Overall the track does a fine job of adding to the horror factor and although very well engineered and immersive, can seem a bit of one trick pony at times, with a limited arsenal of effects due to the restricted nature of it's scenario. In saying that for a soundtrack that doesn't contain a score it does a fantastic job of maintaining the ambience of the situation.
”Quarantine” comes with a mediocre selection of extras but does have the bonus of a commentary track. We've also got the Blu-ray Live feature that provides a link to a collection of new BD releases as well as some high definition trailers (that can take some time to download). The commentary features writer /director John Erick Dowdle and writer/producer Drew Dowdle who give insight into the production values and how much fun everyone had on this shoot. We see that lots of improvisation was captured on film in an effort to increase realism . The Dowdle duo seem to love everyone on the shoot and constantly gush about how brilliant the acting and atmosphere was on set. There are some interesting and funny pieces such as bromine induced foaming, notes on sound production and the condom rat but for the most part it seems like overindulgence in their own product.
”Locked In - The Making of Quarantine” (10 mins) - A mini documentary on the production of this movie with explanation about the difficulties of filming long single takes with only one camera. It's mentioned that a whole day's shooting could only equate to five minutes of film. The difficulties in acting but not acting in an attempt to maintain authenticity, lighting and the confines of the building are all explored here. There's also insight from the cast and crew on how they coped with the intensities on working on this shoot. It seems that a lot of effort was made by all involved but I'm not too sure where it all went!
“Dressing the Infected - Robert Hall's Make Up Design” (7 mins) - An interesting look at the makeup used on the infected and all the gory stunts. In the well lighted make up rooms the prosthetics and other make up effects that are utilised on set are very impressive.
“Anatomy of a Stunt” (3 mins) - A short feature on the stunt where one of infected is thrown from the stairwell on the upper floors of the apartment to the ground below. Somewhat pointless.
We also have a collection of 1080p trailers including “Resident Evil:Degeneration”, “Lakeview Terrace”, “Terminator Salvation” and “The International”. Overall, apart from the two long(ish) featurettes, there's not much of interest here. Plus where are the references to “Rec” and the process of adapting it for this movie??
"Quarantine" is pretty much a standard zombie/rage virus movie with the addition of a hand held camera adding a slightly novel angle to the genre. There's enough here to warrant a watch with some guaranteed scares. Ultlimately though there was nothing here that would tempt me back for a second viewing.
The video presentation is strong throughout with sharp detail even in some of the darker scenes. The audio mix really is the trump card for this BD release and is thoroughly enjoyable and immersive.
The extras, while providing some insight through the commentary track and featurettes, are by no means a comprehensive package and I was very surprised by the ommision of any references to the Spanish original. p>
This BD release of “Quarantine” is passable but there's nothing here to really make it a must buy. The movie itself is enjoyable but in my opinion time would be better spent checking out the superior Spanish original.
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