Some of the heaviest hitters of the horror genre today come from overseas. Films like Audition and Oldboy (both from Asia) are some of the ones that come to mind. But now we look to Europe, more precisely Spain for the next breakout scare fest, and one that should be on everyone’s Halloween viewing list.
[REC] follows the story of Angela Vidal, a late night reporter who follows different groups of workers and sees what their nightly routines are like. This particular evening, she is following the fire department around, seeing how they live, what their schedules look like. When a call comes in for an apartment complex situation, she gets to ride along to record them in action. When they arrive and all hell breaks loose, herself, the cameraman and everyone else in the apartment complex get locked inside until the outbreak is contained completely.
What Works: This film works on so many levels, I don’t know where to start! The characters and acting are fantastic, everyone feels believable, and Angela Vidal is a wonderful protagonist; she’s strong, energetic and her performance is incredibly emotional that you’d have a hard time not wanting for her to survive. That rarely happens in Found-Footage films; most of the time, the characters are incredibly obnoxious.
Speaking of the found footage element here, its not a distraction, it’s an enhancement, which you don’t normally get to say about these types of films. The movie is incredibly tense and scary. Yes, I said scary, and I don’t call movies scary very often. It has a great balance of jump and atmospheric scares, and they are all done in an effective and necessary way. I was on edge the entire time we’re in the apartment complex, and don’t get me started about the ending, that is the stuff nightmares are made of.
The zombies, infected, whatever you want to call them, are absolutely terrifying; they’re fast, strong, and unpredictable, which is a recipe for success. Especially trapped in such a confined building, as the infected numbers grow, the film just keeps getting more and more intense, and it’s wonderful.
What Didn’t Work: A few characters, some of the other apartment residences, are a little too over the top at times, but not as bad as most recent George Romero flicks. Also, this is found footage, so at times the camera shakes quite a bit as the cameraman is running, it gets dropped, kicked around, blood spattered, and if you have a hard time dealing with your motion sickness with these kinds of films, this one may need to be avoided.
You probably know by now that there is a remake of this film called Quarantine starring Jennifer Carpenter, and while it’s pretty much a shot for shot remake, it did one thing better: a lot of the scenes are much darker in composition, which made it slightly more effective in that aspect.
With fantastic characters, realistic acting, and with intense and frightening execution, [REC] is a gem, it’s one hell of a thrill ride that you’ll want to revisit many times, and every time I’ve viewed the film, it has still managed to grab me and throttle my nerves. 8.5 out of 10.