The third of 2008’s first-person-perspective horror outings after Cloverfield and Diary of the Dead, Quarantine uses its aesthetic conceit for a zombie tale that’s not as frightening as it should be, but still better than the average Hollywood scare-a-thon. An adaptation of Jaume Balagueró and Paco Plaza’s Spanish-language original [Rec], John Erick Dowdle’s film is a straightforward story of a news reporter, firemen and police officers, and average citizens all trapped by the government in an apartment building wracked by a rabies-like virus that turns the infected into flesh-eating monsters. The gimmick is that the action is viewed through the video lens of local TV reporter Angela’s (Jennifer Carpenter) cameraman (Steve Harris), a by-now hackneyed device which nonetheless pays mild dividends as an immersive technique that successfully creates the illusion that one is an immediate, involved player in the mayhem. Director Dowdle’s sharp framing doesn’t call great attention to itself – a shot of a body plummeting to the floor is a particularly deft example of carefully staged pseudo-verité. When all hell finally breaks loose, Quarantine begins to sputter in part because its scares feel too familiar, and not unruly enough for what’s ostensibly presented as found-footage chaos. What creepiness director Dowdle does generate, though, can be attributed mainly to his shrewd pre-zombie set-up, in which he manages the not-inconsiderable feat of endearingly humanizing his soon-to-be-terrorized protagonists.