I wasn't a fan of the 2008 chiller, "Quarantine." An American remake of the sparkling Spanish horror picture "Rec," the update was a watered down take on a pure terror experience, which came to be sequelized in 2009's ferocious "Rec 2." Instead of serving up another tired reheat, writer/director John Pogue shifts the world of "Quarantine" in a slightly different direction with his sequel. Lacking a budget and stars, the filmmaker reworks the viral viciousness into a modest but highly entertaining follow-up, dropping tedious found footage elements to refresh the concept.
It's a normal evening routine at work for flight attendant Jenny (Mercedes Masohn), preparing a sparse group for a casual flight out of LAX. With everything on schedule, the crew settles in for a peaceful journey, overseeing passengers ranging from a military medic to a 12-year-old boy flying alone. When an unidentified illness strikes an obese passenger, his ensuing bloodthirsty rage triggers an emergency landing. On the ground, panic is ignited when the passengers learn they've been locked into the terminal by government forces, informed the virus that's plagued a Los Angeles apartment complex has now hit the airport. Alone in the dark, the survivors are forced to deal with one another as the infected attack, with Jenny hunting for a way out of this nightmare.
Considering how well "Quarantine" did at the box office during its theatrical release, it's surprising to see how downscaled "Terminal" is, contained to only a few sets and brandishing a distinct lack of star power. The reduction in gloss comes to benefit the film in a major way, challenging Pogue (who makes his directorial debut here) to dream up a different plan of attack. As previously mentioned, the found footage concept has been jettisoned, and "Terminal" is no remake of "Rec 2." Instead, the production stays within fictional parameters, abstaining from a sleepy air of "realism" to forge ahead as a traditional horror picture. Although the change generates a familiar appearance, the new direction gives "Terminal" something to do besides photocopy Spanish creativity.
"Terminal" action is contained to a plane, a baggage area, and even a catering container, tracking the increased paranoia and panic of the passengers as they grasp the dire situation. Pogue utilizes the claustrophobic settings splendidly, creating suspense by snowballing the viral eruption, with the red-eyed, foaming menace spread around the crew and travelers, who are not even sure what's causing the outbreak, having only heard rumors surrounding the apartment closure from the first picture. Pogue keeps the tension bubbling within this group of stock characters (the writing is obvious but succinct), while making good with the gore, keeping the blood flowing and the bites steady as the gang is slowly winnowed down to a few unlucky souls.
Pogue isn't breaking any new ground with "Terminal," but his commitment to shifting the franchise's approach is engaging. Instead of shaky-cam and bad actors, the sequel coolly arranges its scare spots, goosed by a promising range of unknowns. There are plenty of jolts and incidents of creepy conflict while the script connects tentatively to the previous picture, and there's also a goofy, but promising set-up for the next round of "Quarantine." With the film series now pleasingly repositioned, I welcome further rampages of the rabid.
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