Was THE ORPHANAGE just too atmospheric? A little too much suspense with too little gore and an ending that didn't match the build-up? If the answer to these questions is yes, we may have the antidote for you!

Jaume Balagueró, Luis Berdejo, Paco Plaza Directed by: Jaume Balagueró, Paco Plaza Starring: Manuela Velasco, Javier Botet, Manuel Bronchud, Martha Carbonell, Claudia Font, Vicente Gil, Maria Lanau Distributed by Odeon Sky Filmworks Film will be released on Friday 11th April 2008 in the U.K. Review by Michael Edwards

rating: 3.5

From Spanish directors Jaume Balagueró and Paco Plaza comes this festival-appraised and already Hollywood-appropriated horror movie about a news reporter and her cameraman who begin their night by shooting a seemingly dull documentary about being a fireman on a nightshift and end the night locked in a block of flats fighting off zombie-type things. Before I start, let me reiterate that despite being released last year, an American remake entitled Quarantine and directed by John Erick Dowdle (who? anyone?) is already in post-production. Has the world gone mad?! As if it wasn't bad enough that The Eye has been remade by Hollywood a mere 6 years after the original, we have to get even crazier. I'm incredibly confused as to why it is now felt that anything made with a budget of less than US$50 million is merely a prototype to be eyed over by studio execs to decide if they should use it as raw material to be glitzed up and sugar-coated for the Anglophone masses. Hey-ho, on to the task at hand. In this instance the studio execs don't have a lot they need to mess about with, as you may have noticed from my intro the plot is pretty simple and the location fairly non-taxing for even the most uninspired location managers and set designers. A pretty news reporter and her cameraman begin the evening filming their show in a fire station before rushing off on call with them to the block of flats where it all kicks off. And by that I mean it turn into a microcosm of 28 Days Later. It turns out that there is some form of crazy zombifying disease in this building and the government act promptly to quarantine (hence the superbly imaginative title of the remake) the building to prevent its spread. The style is a bit like that adopted in Cloverfield or even The Blair Witch Project in that it draws its validity from an immediate and consciously present cameraman, and it really throws you into the action. Mercifully though by setting the cameraman up as a professional rather than a bloke at a party or a inexperienced student we don't have to watch with our heads tilted at a 10-degree angle or suffer severe seasickness. It also means our guide mainly captures the many of gory scenes (enough to satisfy the bloodthirsty among you) with decent clarity. Another bonus is that the action mostly avoids the more crass tools of the trade like unnecessarily loud noises coming from, shapes flitting rapidly across the background and inexplicable sounds in the distance. With the exception of the ending, which is incredibly creepy and pretty damn cool, you can see almost every single plot turn coming in this film. And I don't just mean the more astute out there, or even horror fans - large swathes of this film fit the standard horror template avant la lettre. But what makes this film a bit more special is that you don't care. Like a Mexican wave you'll see each moment of terror approaching with a strangely gleeful anticipation and wave it past with enthusiasm. I'm really torn on how to rate this movie, it was genuinely pretty fun and because it was short I sat through the entire thing with few complaints. But it was also incredibly formulaic and, with the exception of the aforementioned brilliant ending, (it really was brilliant - but a moment of appreciation just doesn't provide lasting satisfaction does it?), I felt like I'd seen it all before. If you're looking for a fun horror movie that'll entertain you for an hour or so then you could do far worse, but don't be expecting any Guillermo Del Toro...
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Michael J Edwards hasn't written a bio just yet, but if they had... it would appear here.