Have you seen the Youtube video of the rabies baby. It shows an infant infected with the horrible disease, and it is quite disturbing. The clip has become a viral hit amongst horror fans. And it was used for inspiration by the cast members of Roy Lee's upcoming American adaptation of the hit Spanish horror film Rec.
John Erick Dowdle is directing this new thriller, entitled Quarantine. The film has an ensemble cast that includes Jennifer Carpenter, Jay Hernandez, Columbus Short, Greg Germann, Steve Harris, Dania Ramirez, Rade Sherbedgia, and Jonathon Schaech. The plot follows television reporter Angela Vidal (Jennifer Carpenter) and her cameraman (Steve Harris) as they are assigned to spend the night shift with a Los Angeles Fire Station.
After a routine 911 call takes them to a small apartment building, they find police officers already on the scene in response to blood curdling screams coming from one of the apartment units. They soon learn that a woman living in the building has been infected by something unknown. After a few of the residents are viciously attacked, they try to escape with the news crew in tow, only to find that the CDC has quarantined the building.
Phones, Internet, televisions and cell phone access have been cut-off, and officials are not relaying information to those locked inside. When the quarantine is finally lifted, the only evidence of what took place is the news crew's videotape.
We were recently invited to the set of this rabies scarefest, where we got to talk with both director Dowdle and his amazing cast of actors. We will have a full set report in the near future. But here are a few excerpts from our interviews with actors Columbus Short and Jonathon Schaech:
Has Dowdle shown you the original film?
Columbus Short: Yeah, I saw the original film. When I saw the original film, that's when I decided I wanted to do it. It's not just an experimental thing. Like The Blair Witch Project or 28 Days Later. The way that it is shot is so special and interesting. It is a great role. I just had to do it. I am an African-American playing Danny Wilensky. I am crossing barriers right now. I am changing it.
Because of the way it is shot, do you have to be conscious of where the camera is?
Columbus Short: The camera is there. There is no fourth wall. It is like Cops, bro. When the camera comes, you have to get out of the way. The cameramen have taken some blows. I am serious. I am manhandling them. They have to have pads behind them, because I am jabbing them into walls. It is fun, but it is pretty physical. The tuna sandwich. That is part of Danny Wilensky's daily regime. That is my method.
Did you find it easier to have the original performance to play off of?
Columbus Short: No. I watched the original for the original's sake. But I didn't want to be that cop. There is a different type of cop that would be in this situation. How would he deal with it. He is still overeager. But how am I overeager, and how am I overwhelmed? It is all to scale. I tried to find it for me.
Do you find that you are spending a lot of time figuring out what you will be doing with the other actors? Or do you just do your own thing, and see how that works?
Columbus Short: It is a choreographed thing with the Dps and the other actors. We all come together. It is cohesive. The cinematographer is part of the action now. We have to figure out where we are all going to be. Everything has to be safe. So you are being mindful of the things around you while being organic. That is daunting in itself, but that is also the challenge. That is why they hired us. That is why we get paid...The big bucks?
How was the filming technique different for you on this movie?
Johnathon Schaech: I went to the fire station because I wanted to make it as real as possible. We were given a speech by Clint Culpepper that he wanted to make this as real as possible so that people would really enjoy the experience. We wanted to blur the lines between what was real and what was not. That is why I grew this mustache. I didn't want anybody to recognize me. I went into the fire station, and more than fifty percent of those guys have big mustaches. Just like this. I stayed there with them, and tried to find all of the nuances. What they had to do every single night. I tried to bring as much realism as I could to the piece.
They are filming this in really long takes. Does that change the way you approach a scene at all? Or how you prepare for it.
Johnathon Schaech: I think the performance mentality is always about the other actors that are there. What the give and take is of the two of them. You don't get your close-up. But you have to be very camera aware so that you can tell the story as you go along. If that makes any sense. The acting is all about the other person. The interaction. If they capture it. If you are on camera. This is a lot more fun. Knowing that you are not getting a close-up, you don't have to prepare for it. You just have to go. It is like a play. It takes a long time to set up. A lot longer than setting up something on the stage.
The Dowdle brothers are fairly new to the horror scene. What is it like to work with these guys that are still a little wet behind the ears?
Johnathon Schaech: Exciting. Both of those guys are really, really smart. I got to see their The Poughkeepsie Tapes movie. Has anyone seen it yet? It is frightening. It is a whole different world. It is about bending reality, but scary. This stuff could totally be real. Tobe Hooper did that years ago with The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, but it wasn't shot through a video camera. Because the concept was real. And they made a movie about it. These guys are doing the same thing.
With the aspect of the rabies, how quickly does it happen?
Johnathon Schaech: I think it takes six weeks to really kick in. It is a very real, very deadly disease. If you are infected and you don't get it taken care of right away, you will die. It affects your oxygen intake. You are not able to swallow. It grabs at the brain and makes the thought process unbearable. It really makes people aggressive and agitated. That's why dogs and squirrels are so aggressive when they have it. I swear I was attacked by a squirrel one time that had rabies. They are just so angry. They become very angry with you.
Quarantine opens October 17th, 2008.