I’ve been busily attending the 22nd Leeds International Film Festival this week – always a reason for getting out of bed in November, thanks to the number of quality horror films shown (although if they do want to start coming round to my house and showing them in my bedroom, I won’t object... just bring your own popcorn, ’kay?). Top of the shocks for me so far this year has been Quarantine, the American remake of the year’s earlier Spanish film [REC], which as I’m sure you’re aware was a handycam mockumentary with a viral-outbreak theme. I liked [REC] well enough and, while I wasn’t craaaazy about it, I did think it was a solid piece of Blair Witchery that unfortunately lost me a bit around the hour-mark, when everything seemed to degenerate into people running around screaming and biting each other with the lights off.
Quarantine, which was rushed into production before [REC] was even released, involves a similar amount of partially-glimpsed nocturnal nibbling, but you know what? It’s all spelled out a little more clearly – which is no bad thing when your film juggles around 30 characters and takes place mostly in the dark. Quarantine also gives us more memorable moments – gimmick-shots, really, I suppose, like a scene where the camera smashes repeatedly into the face of a zombie-woman – but these all keep things interesting. Otherwise, 90 minutes of hand-held camerawork can get a tad exhausting.
Showing before Quarantine was a short film (okay, very short film) called LV-16, made as part of Zone Horror’s “Cut” competition by Ryan Haysom, but definitely able to stand on its own as a neat little video-nasty that got everyone in the mood for some grainy gut-munching. In it, a man finds himself in a CCTV-monitored holding cell with a plastic bag over his head and something very nasty happening in the corner. If I said any more, I’d run the risk of spoiling things, so I’ll just say that LV-16 is like the (non-funny) horror equivalent of a comedy sketch: instantly gripping, snappy and topped with a nice pay-off. Makes me wish there was such thing as a horror sketch show... Watch it HERE.