Saturday, 18 February 2012

[Rec] (2007)

While I'm a fan of the zombie movies of George Romero (and in particular of DAY OF THE DEAD), and while Stuart Gordon's REANIMATOR is one of my all-time favourites, it's European zombie horrors that I've found properly frightening and disturbing. Fulci's quartet (ZOMBI 2, CITY OF THE LIVING DEAD, THE BEYOND, HOUSE BY THE CEMETERY) and Danny Boyle's 28 DAYS LATER all contain sequences that have had me on the edge of my seat, the latter because I found the fast-moving Rage virus victims absolutely terrifying. But out of all of these movies, Jaume Balaguero and Paco Plaza's [REC] is the one I like the most. It's the best paced, the scariest, the most kinetic and the one that still leaves me shaking, even though I've now seen it several times. Taking the format of footage filmed for a documentary about a night in the life of the local fire service, [REC]'s narrative is told entirely from the point of view of Pablo, the cameraman whom we see only very intermittently, and who somehow manages to keep filming under the direst of circumstances. In this respect [REC] is a little bit like Ruggero Deodato's CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST but without the breaks from the filmed footage, and mercifully free of the mean-spiritedness. Manuela Velasco is the pretty presenter (apparently her real job on Spanish TV) who does her best to provide a running commentary of events when the team gets called to a residential block where an old lady is apparently trapped in her flat. Once the team are inside the building and have discovered the woman covered in blood and keen to chew on anyone who comes within biting distance, the building is sealed by the authorities. Initially there is no explanation as to what is going on and the film becomes extraordinarily tense as more and more people succumb to the zombie plague that has been unleashed. The brief running time of less than eighty minutes means that once the action begins the only time the film truly pauses for breath is close to the end, and even that is just so something even more terrifyingly horrible than what we've already seen can appear. In fact the climax almost tops everything that has gone before as the film veers off into deliciously ambiguous territory regarding the cause of the disaster, and the ending is anything but comforting. [REC] 2, this film's direct continuation, ran the risk of diminishing the impact of the first because by necessity the questions raised had to be addressed to some degree. It's interesting to note that [REC 3], due for release soon, takes a different angle on the material with the zombie plague being unleashed at a wedding. One of the reasons that [REC] works so well is because it relays superbly to the viewer the sheer frenetic anarchy of what is taking place. Hopefully [REC] 3 will use its setting to provide another dose of fast-moving terrifying outrageousness to match the original. 

1 comment:

  1. I actually liked the movie, liked the in your face realistic feel and the found video docu style feel of the movie.

    Rec 2 was good but less effective. I predict Rec 3 will also be less more effective.

    I watch one other spanish rec style found video movie called movie. The ending was interesting though.