Quarantine appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. The film’s stylistic roots meant the picture didn’t excel, but I thought it looked quite good within those constraints.
Sharpness usually seemed solid. The shooting style meant lots of out of focus elements, but those had nothing to do with the transfer itself. The DVD featured delineation that was perfectly appropriate for the various shots. No issues with jagged edges or shimmering occurred, though I noticed some light edge haloes. Source flaws also remained absent.
Colors tended to be low-key. The movie usually made things look somewhat monochromatic, which made sense within the format since so much of the flick took place in the dark apartment building setting. Though the hues never seemed memorable, they were fine for what I expected. Blacks looked solid, while shadows were a bit erratic. Usually the low-light shots seemed fine, but a few seemed somewhat dense. Overall, this was a satisfying presentation.
As for the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Quarantine, it was more active than I expected, which may actually have been a negative. Through the flick, the filmmakers slavishly adhered to the “fly on the wall” video photography; there’s not a single shot that didn’t look like it came from the news crew. However, the multichannel audio violated that sense of realism.
And it did so virtually all the time through the movie. Most of the material reflected the sense of siege that came with the apartment building confinement. The track featured a nearly constant presence of helicopters that whirred around the spectrum. The sounds of other emergency vehicles and whatnot also came from the sides and rears. The film featured no score at all.
Why did the filmmakers decide to break the realism with so much material from the surrounds? That choice was satisfying in terms of movie enjoyment but still seemed inappropriate since there was no way a news crew would capture stereo surround information. The track integrated the back speakers well, and I thought the mix left a very good impression of all the mayhem, but I was a bit disappointed the film dropped the ball when it came to attempted auditory realism.
I suspect that the filmmakers chose to go with multichannel audio simply as a nod to the demands of modern cinema. That was why the folks who made Cloverfield did it, and I thought that the use of surround audio was even less justifiable in that case. For Quarantine, it felt less like a violation of the film’s universe. Cloverfield tried much harder to present a sense of realism, whereas Quarantine made more concessions to feature films. It used recognizable actors and superior camera equipment. Both it and Cloverfield shared a “found footage” dynamic, but Quarantine looked and felt a whole lot more like a movie.
Because of that, I didn’t really mind the lack of realistic sound. Audio quality was consistently good – and definitely better than the news crew would’ve captured on the scene. Speech was concise and natural, without edginess or other issues. Effects sounded accurate and full. The movie boasted very good bass response when necessary. Again, no music appeared, so that wasn’t an issue. Despite some qualms about the lack of realism inherent in the audio presentation, I still found it to be satisfying.
In terms of extras, the DVD opens with an audio commentary from writer/director John Erick Dowdle and writer/producer Drew Dowdle. Both sit together for this running, screen-specific look at cast, characters and performances, sets and locations, camerawork and technical considerations, attempts at verisimilitude, effects and makeup, sound design, editing and pacing, rehearsals and shooting concerns, and a few other technical topics.
Only a few slow spots ever mar this generally fine commentary. The Dowdle brothers usually dig into the film with gusto and provide a lot of good insights. You should learn quite about the movie’s creation in this satisfying discussion.
Three featurettes follow. Locked In: The Making of Quarantine runs 10 minutes, five seconds and includes notes from John Erick Dowdle, Drew Dowdle, executive producer Glenn S. Gainor, cinematographer Ken Seng, editor Elliott Greenberg, production designer Jon Gary Steele, producer Sergio Aguero, and actors Johnathon Schaech, Greg Germann, Jay Hernandez, Columbus Short, Jennifer Carpenter, Stacy Chbosky, and Dania Ramirez. The program looks at cast and performances, shooting methods and cinematography, editing, sets, and various concerns. If you already listened to the commentary, you’ve already learned virtually everything discussed here. “Locked In” adds some behind the scenes shots, but those aren’t enough to make it especially worthwhile.
Dressing the Infected: Robert Hall’s Make-up Design goes for seven minutes, 29 seconds and features Gainor, John Erick Dowdle, Drew Dowdle, Chbosky, Ramirez, and special makeup designer Robert Hall. As expected, the show looks at the methods used to bring the film’s infection victims to life. We find a mix of good details in this gross but informative piece.
Finally, Anatomy of a Stunt lasts three minutes, 22 seconds and presents remarks from John Erick Dowdle and stunt coordinator Lance Gilbert. We see the execution of one particular stunt. It’s a short piece but it proves interesting.
A few ads open the DVD. We get clips for Blu-Ray Disc, Obsessed, and Passengers. These also appear in the Previews area along with promos for Fired Up, The Ugly Truth, Angels & Demons, Baghead, 2012, Screamers: The Hunting, The Grudge 3, The Poker Club, The Messengers 2: The Scarecrow, Against the Dark, Rec, The Lodger, Boogeyman 3, Vacancy 2: The First Cut, Rescue Me and fearnet.com. No trailer for Quarantine shows up here.
Ala Cloverfield, Quarantine offers a first-person film, one that reworks the standard horror flick. While not as consistently engaging as Cloverfield, Quarantine works acceptably well. I can find a mix of flaws but still think it gives us reasonable entertainment. The DVD boasts positive picture and audio as well as some interesting extras; a very good audio commentary fares the best. Though this isn’t a movie I enjoyed to a tremendous degree, I think horror fans will want to give it a look.