Right. So I watched Quarantine last night and watching the end credits I realised I'd done something uncharacteristically dumb. I mean I do dumb stuff all the time, but this particular oversight isn't one I usually fall prey to.
I watched a remake before seeing the original.
Somehow in the hurly-burly I missed the fact that Quarantine is a remake of a movie called REC. When I pick out movies for my NetFlix queue or when I order DVDs to collect, I usually make such decisions based on a little research. I rarely just pop something onto my 'watch' list just because the trailer looks good or because it has a flashy ad on Yahoo! I dig up a little something. No spoilers obviously... and I don't necessarily regard reviews (especially on extreme films) as a deciding factor but enough info about plot or director to give me some idea that the film is worth my time.
Quarantine WAS worth my time. I thought it was done pretty well and some effectively creepy or shocking moments. It had a very downbeat ending uncharacteristic of Hollywood.
I should've known. Hollywood didn't come up with that ending, a group of filmakers from Spain did. The American group gets the credit for not lightening the ending up at all. But I DID see the trailer in the theater, was intrigued and so when NetFlix put it on there as a suggestion, I said 'what the hey' and added it to my queue.
Now after seeing 'based on the film REC' in the end credits and then looking into REC, I REALLY wish I'd been less impulsive. Looking around, most genre reviewers didn't think Quarantine was bad, but they almost universally consider REC better. Quarantine actually fares better than most remakes when compared to the (usually foreign) original. See Pulse, the Grudge or any number of J-horror movies. I hear the French film Martyrs has been bought for an American remake, but I can tell you right now there is no way that any theatrical cut of that movie will come anywhere near the original, which is one of the most disturbing movies in recent years. In fact, that's pretty typically why you want to see the original of anything Hollywood remakes. If there's a compelling story there it is often a much better experience if you remove big studio gloss, name actors, or test screening-directed edits.
Moral of the story: if you are into genre films, especially various transgressive genres or horror it really pays to look into what you watch before you watch it. I still put REC on my list because I do want to see 'the better one', but Quanrantine was made only two years after the original and is almost a shot-for-shot copy apparently. I'm going to now know everything that happens in a film that puts a lot of weight into the unknown.