** Contains Spoilers **
The original QUARANTINE, released in 2008 and starring DEXTER’s Jennifer Carpenter, was an almost scene-by-scene remake of sublime Spanish chiller [REC]. The inevitable Spanish sequel, [REC] 2, picked up where the original left off, continuing the story of the condemned tower block and its infected inhabitants. The American sequel, QUARANTINE 2: TERMINAL, has chosen to abandon this approach and strike out in its own direction, transplanting the action to a deserted airport and eschewing the first-person footage approach that is the series’ signature.
Bre Blair is Paula, a feisty air stewardess in charge of a plane full of the passengers from hell. There’s the creepy morbidly obese guy, the surly kid travelling on his own, the hot-headed guy who threatens to sue at every turn, and the amorous couple determined to join the mile high club without leaving their seats. As if that wasn’t bad enough, a super-virulent virus that turns anyone it infects into mindless cannibalistic ghouls capable of almost supernatural feats of savagery and endurance has just been released...
A combination of turbulence and zombie outbreak forces the plane to land, and the passengers disembark into a deserted airport staging area, where they are immediately placed in lockdown. The authorities seal the building and the terrified survivors are left to fend for themselves. At this point it all starts to look familiar. The ever-dwindling cast desperately search for a way out as they’re stalked and picked off by fast-moving, semi-supernatural ghouls. Despite the relatively expansive set there’s a palpable sense of claustrophobia, and the tension is rarely allowed to ebb. Some of the special effects aren’t what they could be (the leaping rat is particularly bad), but the zombies retain the blank-eyed menace of earlier films, and there are some truly stomach-churning moments of violence.
QUARANTINE 2: TERMINAL is a brave attempt to do something different. The decision to expand the narrow parameters of the tower block is to be applauded, but it feels like a mistake to abandon the found footage element. The intimacy of the previous films is gone, replaced by a generic straight-to-DVD aesthetic. It’s telling that the most scarily effective scenes are at the end, when the survivors are in total darkness and the action is filmed from the perspective of a pair of night-vision thermal goggles.
Aside from the change of venue, QUARANTINE 2: TERMINAL has little new to offer. What it does offer is a fast-paced, gory addition to the zombie infection canon. Strong performances and relentless action make for a worthy sequel.