Like Matt Reeves’ Let Me In, 2008’s Quarantine is the rare American horror remake that somehow manages to not fuck up the original foreign film it’s based on ([REC]). A local TV news camera crew shadows a team of firefighters as they explore a rabies outbreak in an apartment building, and are subsequently plastic-wrapped into the building by the CDC. Quarantine’s a slow starter, but the scares come fast and furious in the final half. Quarantine 2: Terminal abandons the camera crew angle while retaining the hand-held documentary aesthetic, which has a tendency to drain the film of the immediacy that was so palpable in the original. In Quarantine, you were in that building, which pumped up the tension considerably. Still, Quarantine 2 serves as a solid little sequel, a scrappy, low-budget chiller that would almost certainly tank in theaters, but as a straight-to-DVD release, it‘s entirely adequate.
Taking place on the same night as Quarantine, several strangers board a nearly empty red-eye flight, with one passenger watching local news coverage of the apartment building rabies outbreak. Jenny (Mercedes Masohn), an uber-friendly stewardess, chats up each passenger for a few minutes, which serves as a sort of “character back-story info dump.” There’s a super fat dude with his own seatbelt extension, a petulant 12-year-old boy traveling alone, a loudmouth dickhead, a frail bald man who is riddled with Parkinson’s disease, etc. The gang’s all here. When the super fat dude is bitten by an onboard rodent and subsequently blows chunks all over Jenny, full-on panic sets in and the pilot conducts an emergency landing.
And that’s my primary problem with Quarantine 2. When all the action is confined to the plane, there’s an inherent claustrophobia that really ramps up the suspense. Once they land the plane––a mere 25 minutes into the action––the passengers are sealed into a baggage loading dock by a government bio-terrorism unit, and the movie seems to settle into a different gear. It’s a creative move that dilutes the entire tone of the movie. There’s loads of dialogue from screenwriter John Pogue (who also wrote Rollerball and Ghost Ship, so there‘s that to brag about), none of it terribly compelling, and the attacks from the slobbery infected seem too intermittent. When they happen, they provide a welcome jolt, but they come too infrequently to have a lasting impact. The frantic chaos of Quarantine has been warmed-over into a sporadically entertaining gab fest. Quarantine 2 certainly has its share of juicy, straight-to-DVD moments, but it’s miles away from the original.