Wednesday, July 15, 2009


REC (2007)
Directed by Jaume Balaguero & Paco Plaza

REC is the 2007 Spanish film which Quarantine, the 2008 American version, is based on. Surprisingly, both films are practically identical. REC follows suit with other first-person style horror films, like Blair Witch Project and Diary of the Dead -- shaky camerawork that makes you dizzy while you experience the horror first-hand. The film follows a TV reporter, Angela Vidal and her cameraman Pablo, who spend the night with a crew of firemen in their firehouse, hoping for a small emergency to make the documentary interesting. They get a little more than they bargained for when the call comes in.

They respond to a call regarding a screaming woman who is trapped in an apartment building. When they arrive, the woman is drenched in blood and attacks one of the firemen, biting him on the neck. The residents panic, and when they attempt to escape they are warned by the police to stay away from the windows. The authorities seal off the building with plastic sheets, trapping the people inside, informing them that they have been quarantined and will be sending in a health inspector. Once inside, the health inspector informs the residents that a dog from the building was brought to the vet a day earlier, and was infected with some sort of strange virus, which tipped off the local police that the building was contaminated.

One by one the residents fall victim to the virus after being bitten by the infected, leaving Angela and Pablo as the only survivors as the end of the film nears. When they reach the top floor of the building in an attempt to escape, they find themselves in an abandoned apartment filled with newspaper clippings, religious artifacts, and laboratory items. We quickly learn that the resident of the apartment was an agent of the Vatican, investigating the demonic possession of a young European girl. He brought her to the States and kept her locked in the apartment, performing experiments on her. Angela discovers a tape recorder documenting his studies, and soon realizes that her and Pablo are not alone in the apartment. Pablo puts the camera up into the attic, and a bloody infected boy jumps at the camera, destroying the spotlight. After putting the camera on night shot, the real terror finally begins. Angela and Pablo spot a figure moving inside the apartment, and once in full view we see an emaciated, lanky infected woman rummaging around the kitchen. It is an absolutely terrifying sight. The final few minutes of the film, where Pablo and Angela are trying to keep quiet and not be noticed by the woman, are the most horrific moments of the movie. I won't tell you what happens in that room, but let's just say there's no happy ending.

REC was a cool movie, but nothing too ground breaking here -- think 28 Days Later with a shaky camera, shot in an apartment building. The movie's plot grows increasingly chaotic with every moment, and the arguments among the characters I found to be very annoying. Screaming "what the hell is going on" over and over again did not evoke a feeling of terror, but rather frustration for the viewer. The horror takes the form of panic and chaos, with very little gore to back it up. The lack of music also makes the film anti-climactic, relying on quick scares and surprises around each corner instead of a haunting soundtrack. Essentially you could fast forward to the end of the film when the screen turns green and see the best part of the movie. But if you're in the mood for a bunch of people running up and down stairs screaming, the start from the beginning.

Check out the REC trailer here:

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