Wednesday, 15 August 2012

ReMade in the USA: Quarantine

It’s another case of the geek trying to imitate the popular people in the school and failing miserably.
Heathers 1988
Every film ever made and every film to be made is eligible for a remake. The remake is so entrenched in the movie business philosophy that it is a genre unto itself. This genre encompasses all types of films from romantic comedies (You’ve Got Mail 1998) to westerns (True Grit 2010) to horror (Carrie 2013).

The genre also encompasses different types of remakes. The bona fide remake establishes a respectful distance from the original to adapt the story for a new generation (The Thing from another World 1951: John Carpenter’s The Thing 1982). The foreign bona fide reworks the story for an American audience (Seven Samurai 1954: The Magnificent Seven 1960). The denial protests it is not a remake (Le Samoura├» 1967: The Driver 1978). There are the honest mistakes (Psycho 1998) and the carpetbaggers (every horror remake since The Ring 2002).
consumed by imperialism
The ‘carpetbaggers’ is what happened when Generation X1 assumed power. These executives raided the horror films of their youth (the 70-80s back catalogues). They remade them at will with scant intention of elevating the storytelling of some pretty ropey pictures (The Hills Have Eyes 2006 is a notable exception). The business model was to take a brand name and sell it again but with downgraded quality (Halloween 2007, Friday the 13th 2009, A Nightmare on Elm Street 2010).

Every year I put on a new label. One year it’s beer. Then the next year we call it ‘light beer’. And then the next year it’s ‘cold’, ‘filtered’ or ‘dry’. You know what? We can’t make enough of that shit.
The Larry Sanders Show2
The most insidious of the carpetbaggers is the foreign clone. This is when the Yankee imperialist remakes a (new) foreign film that hasn’t or has hardly been released in the US. Thus, these movies do not have a chance to resonate in American culture the way La Femme Nikita 1990 did (which resulted in two TV series). They are remade shot for shot with the texture lost in translation. It is a case of badly dubbed porn.

[REC] was released in its native Spain in 2007 and premiered in the US on DVD in 2009. When the clone Quarantine 2008 was released in American theatres most patrons didn’t realise it was a remake. It is also a fraud. Quarantine tells the story of [REC] in American accents but voices alone do not destroy resonance. Quarantine is example of how Americans depict themselves. How accurate that depiction is is for Americans to answer.
Jennifer Carpenter in Quarantine
Quarantine begins exactly as [REC] does. There is the distributor’s card and the film delves straight into narrative. The viewer is presented with a half-shot of lead character Angela Vidal this time portrayed by Jennifer Carpenter. The difference between the two films is that in this version Angela starts off bitching. There are more warning signs: the cameraman, Scott, walks into shot in the very first scene.

Two things are occurring with this action: Scott is played by Steve Harris, an African American. With his primping of Angela’s hair he is immediately positioned in the subservient role. The original cameraman, Pablo, was always Angela’s equal even when they were arguing. The other significance is his appearance itself. The American Dream is self grandeur. This is true of their journalism. It explains the documentarians who appear onscreen.

As they tape outside the firehouse a fleet of engines leave with sirens blaring. Angela pogos at the sight of them like a child who’s been promised a bowl of ice cream. Then she bitches again and pulls a face like a child who’s finished the bowl but wants more. This is an illustration of the infantilization of American culture (in association with its dumbing down). That a grown woman in a professional capacity can behave like a child in a public place is indicative. Alas this kind of behaviour is commonplace.
The setup of the film involves Angela meeting the firemen at the firehouse. The interaction consists of Angela bitching, consistently making lewd comments, the firemen putting each other down and homosexual taunts. The basketball scene in [REC] showed the firemen allowing a girl to play with them; they didn’t foul her and they let her score a basket. In Quarantine Angela is the best player on the court. This film is set in America – the land of racism and the home of political correctness.

The racist iconography continues in the apartment building. This film is set in Los Angeles scene of the Rodney King torture3. One of the Quarantine cops is African American so white girl Angela decides it’s perfectly safe to physically shove him. To reverse the roles this is what happens when African American women encounter white male cops.
Casting can make or break a movie. A great part of the success of [REC] was Manuela Velasco’s performance as Angela. Jennifer Carpenter does not induce sympathy here nor did she in The Exorcism of Emily Rose 2005. While her inclusion in this film may not be the fault of director John Erick Dowdle her performance is. To date Dowdle has directed three horror films (The Poughkeepsie Tapes 2007 and Devil 2010). There is not a single journalist or blogger who has accused him of being a potential horrormeister.
Quarantine is what happens when you take a Spanish pearl and turn it into American pigswill.

Dr Blood suggested this review. Meanwhile over at The Vault he has reviewed every film in this canon. I advise everyone to check out what he wrote. I enjoyed it.
1 Generation X TIME
2 The Larry Sanders Show 218
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