[Rec] (2008)

THE SCOOP

Director: Jaume Balaguero/Paco Plaza
Plot: "REC" turns on a young TV reporter and her cameraman who cover the night shift at the local fire station.


Genre: Drama/Horror/Thriller
Awards: -

Runtime: 80min
Rating: NC16 for bloody horror violence and language.


TRAILER:

IN RETROSPECT
One of the most outstanding horror films in recent years, [Rec] is an example of efficient filmmaking made within a tight budget and with limited resources. A product of the Spanish cinema, this Blair Witch Project-like film is actually way much better than the 1999 sleeper hit which I truly dislike despite its influence towards the style of horror pictures of the last decade. Nearly always devoid of original ideas, Hollywood has made remaking successful foreign horror films part of its capitalistic agenda. [Rec] is reworked into Quarantine (2008), a sub-par effort and one of the weakest of its genre in that same year.

[Rec] is superior to Quarantine in every way. Directed by Jaume Balaguero and Paco Plaza, the original leaves viewers chilled to the bone. Employing many standard horror tactics to scare viewers, the film surprisingly feels unfamiliar, giving us a unique experience (but of the kind we wouldn’t want to sit through again). Shot with a handheld camera, [Rec] has no proper narrative. In the film, a cameraman captures a blond, pretty reporter, as she follows a group of firemen to a building in the wee hours after the latter received a distress call. The intent to film the firemen as they go about doing their jobs for an informative television show “When You Are Sleeping” turns into a reality show of nightmarish proportions.

[Rec] becomes the footage that is salvaged from the hellhole. Much like The Blair Witch Project, the grittiness comes with the shaky camera feel and the actors leaving behind their acting skills. The first sequence featuring a crazed old woman drenched in blood gives a taste of horrible things to come. And they come one after another through strategically-timed shock moments which, no matter how well one prepares for, still scare the living daylights out of anyone.

The plot devices are clever: First, the building is quarantined by the authorities to stem the outbreak of an infectious disease of some sort; this means the protagonists are trapped inside a confined area. Second, the ‘disease’ infects healthy persons through saliva (from bites) and turns them into aggressive zombie-like creatures. In a nutshell, [Rec] is 28 Days Later set within the confines of an eerie building, and shot Cloverfield-style. These two aspects combine excellently to strike maximum fear in viewers. In one of the film’s most tense moments, a pack of ‘zombies’ rushes up a flight of stairs towards the survivors whom are frantically searching for the right key to unlock the door into temporary safety.

Another positive thing to note about [Rec] is its clear direction. Although seen through the point-of-view of a hand-held camera together with the disorientation and nauseousness associated with such a filmmaking style, [Rec] manages to remain intelligible throughout; viewers know what is going on, and understand the plight of its defenseless characters. Here, the filmmakers are at the top of their game, creating a highly original horror picture which leaves viewers shivering just thinking about the film, let alone watching it.

GRADE: B+ 
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