Call it a case of deliberately engineered deja-vu, that I consciously decided to sit through this American remake of the recently screened Spanish horror film [REC]. Well of course the purpose is to discover if what's essentially the same story and technique employed, could get screwed up in a remake, given that Hollywood more often than not, lets down the original brilliance which they think they can replicate easily to translate to box office dollars.
So what's the verdict? If you've already watched [REC], then this one just simply pales in comparison, because of the need to be verbatim, and somehow the filmmakers here found it necessary to tell you every now and then, that there's actually someone behind the camera. Scott the cameraman (Steve Harris) appears quite often in front of the camera, well, and actually does so from the onset. Also, to up the body count quotient, new characters were included (although supporting ones), and unlike the original which had an opening scene dedicated to the fire station filled with more meat, here it drones on and on at how the assigned firemen are getting the hots for reporter Angela Vidal (Jennifer Carpenter).
The storyline's almost the same, save for a few more extra scenes included to jazz up the gore department, and to incorporate some additional action elements. Otherwise, there's plenty of overacting here by everyone, so much so that instead of rooting for the characters to get out of their predicament, you're more likely to find yourself wishing that they meet their demise soon enough. Such is the original essence lost, and with that, what primarily works in [REC].
Between the two Angela Vidals, I'd confess that Jennifer Carpenter can't hold a candle to Manuela Velasco. The latter's the sweet damsel you'll risk life and limb to save, whereas the former, well, you'd just wish that she shuts the hell up and stop barking orders. I guess the direction of John Erick Dowdle will have take responsibility for that not-too-subtle difference between the Vidals. And through this film I'd learnt to appreciate how the shaky-cam was used to great effect in [REC], and how easy it is to lapse into pitfalls as in Quarantine. Same storyline and plot development, same technique, relatively the same type of characters, but totally different outcomes in terms of how it engages the audience, because there were crucial moments where it failed to understand the need for restraint.
Sure you can't expect rocket science to be coming out of this film, but unfortunately it joins the pile of "remakes that don't make it". Word is [REC]2 is currently in production, so I'll be looking forward to that, and hoping that there won't be a Quarantine 2 to embarrass itself.