If recent horror theater has taught us anything, it is that outbreaks in apartment buildings go better the more explosive the approach. Watching the gradual deconstruction of societal standards because of a cough just isn't compelling enough no matter how much bickering you put on screen. Quarantine/REC or even the recently reviewed Condemned have more to offer with their subject matter because there is sometimes a limit to how effective realism can be in a horror movie. The truly terrifying things in life are global warming and the stability of my 401k in the future, but setting that to boil and watching people squirm isn't exactly reaching the grandeur of entertainment value.
Containment is one of those films that depends on attaching itself to the audience via character-driven material and a withholding of information. By doing so, the director attempts to establish a sense of realism and to get you thinking about putting yourself in that scenario. There are two problems with this method. If the dialogue is primarily arguing and complaining, it pushes the viewer towards a sense of annoyance rather than connection. If the information or pursuit of it isn't enticing enough, it doesn't pull your attention. Containment failed in both of these areas.
I feel I am being fairly harsh on a film that was overall strong in its acting and maintained a status quo of production value throughout. But at the same time, the film's lack of backbone and inability to retain interest prevented me from indulging in the finer things of the production. The film played out like a claustrophobic yet less interesting enclosed experience of the film Contagion. What would a virus with a high mortality rate do to a small quarantined population? Now we know, it'll create a lot of in-fighting for an hour and a half.
None of this film provided enough of an edge to be qualified as horror. While the situation in reality would be horrific, the mundane execution of the timeline of events was too realistic and somehow completely uneventful even when events were occurring. There are so many other great outbreak movies out there that manage to establish a much greater sense of dread than this film, and perhaps that is where it ends up disappointing the most.
Horror Qualifier: 4/10
Horror Quality: 2/10
Film Quality: 4/10