“We have to tape everything”
Over the last decade there has been a renaissance in European Horror, spearheaded by the French (Martyrs, Haute Tension) Spain has also produced several great horror movies (The Orphanage, Tesis) the best of all being [REC]. Directed by Jaume Balaguero & Paco Plaza, REC is a no holds barred scarefest that breathes new life into several overused genre themes. Another entry in the “found footage” genre (don’t worry this is no Cloverfield) the movie manages to still look fresh & most importantly believable. The plot itself, is quite simple.
Angela Vidal (Manuela Velasaco) is a television presenter for the program While You’re Asleep. Accompanied by her cameraman Pablo they spend the night following a group of Barcelona’s firemen. After a short time filming the firemen at rest in the station, a call comes in. Angela & Pablo accompany the firemen to a call at an apartment building where an old woman is believed to have fallen in her apartment & is locked in. Once they arrive they find the rest of the residents of the building in the lobby & two policemen waiting for them. They head upstairs to the old woman’s apartment & the firemen break open the door. Angela & Pablo head inside, following the firemen & police. The old woman appears at the end of the hall, her clothes bloodstained & in an apparent state of confusion. As one of the police officers approaches her & tries to reassure her, the old lady violently attacks him, biting a chunk out of the policeman’s neck. Panic ensues as the wounded man is brought down the stairs only to find the building has been sealed & placed under quarantine. Now the TV crew, along with the firemen & the remaining residents are trapped inside the building, trapped with an infection that has deadly consequences.
To outline anymore of the plot would start to ruin some of the movie’s best jump out of your seat scares & trust me there are several in this movie. Although technically the infected in this movie are not zombies [REC] is a fresh take on the zombie genre. It also combines the great horror staples of isolation & paranoia to create an atmosphere of unease & claustrophobia. One of the central things that makes [REC] work is the movie is grounded by believability. The film crew, the firemen, the police & residents all act completely normally. For the first fifteen minutes of the movie, you feel like you could be watching a normal documentary. By the time the horror starts, you already buy into the scenario, the characters. No one does anything stupid. These people react as we all would, they are just trying to stay alive. None of the usual silly bollocks genre cliches apply here. The movie’s other strongpoint is the performance of Maneula Velasco as Angela. The camera maybe our “eyes” through the unfolding horror but it is Angela that puts the human face to it. Her performance had to be just the right balance of fear, anger, terror & despair. If her character wasn’t believable, the whole movie would fail. As it is her performance is faultless & she carries the movie effortlessly. This movie is everything 28 Days Later should have been. it grips you from begining to end. Anyone that knows me will know how much I bleat on about this movie. It is a movie everyone should see at least once. It stands alongside Martyrs at the pinnacle of modern European horror.
[REC] is a must-see movie. A true no holds barred, make you jump out of your seat creepfest that stands up to repeated viewings. The film has a sequel, the imaginatively titled [REC]2 which takes a leap of faith (pun intended) to stay with & two more films in production. Plus a horrible American remake (Quarantine) Quite simply you either love [REC] as a scary movie or you simply haven’t seen it yet.