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Friday, October 18, 2019

Review: [Rec]

Director: Jaume Balagueró and Paco Plaza
Guion: Jaume Balagueró, Paco Plaza, and Luis Berdejo
Year: 2007

In the middle of the found footage movie frenzy, in 2007 Spain produced “[Rec]”, a movie that blends this recording style with the zombie subgenre. Its success cannot be argued, giving way to a saga of four movies (“[Rec] 2”, “[Rec] 3: Genesis”, and “[Rec] 4: Apocalypse”) and a US remake (“Quarantine”), that itself received a sequel (“Quarantine 2: Terminal”). Above these accomplishments, it’s safe to say that this is one of the best movies of both subgenres. 

Ángela is a reporter in a late-night TV show called While You Sleep. Alongside her cameraman Pablo, she goes to a firefighter’s station to report a normal day in the life of a firefighter. Everything goes by peacefully until Ángela’s wishes of something to happen that breaks the monotony and that produces good material for her show comes true. Alongside the firefighters, Ángela and Pablo reach the apartment building where the call was made to find a group of people worried and scared of what is taking place there. Shortly after their arrival, the police quarantine the building, leaving them trapped inside, where a series of violent events are starting to take place. Ángela and Pablo do everything they can to report the events, taking them in a frenetic race to discover what is happening there and to stay alive. 

“[Rec]” has a short runtime of 78 minutes, but it doesn’t need more for its directors Jaume Balagueró (“Mientras Duermes”) and Paco Plaza (“Verónica”) who, together with Luis Berdejo (“Quarantine”), co-wrote the script, to be able to effectively present their intriguing and terrifying story. Only a few minutes are spent in getting to know Ángela (Manuela Velasco; “La Chica de Ayer”), Pablo (Pablo Rosso; “Mientras Duermes”), and the group of firefighters lead by Manu (Ferran Terraza ). Once they get into the building, the tension is ramped up to the maximum and it never stops presenting impactful events until the bone-chilling ending. Something that helps a lot to everything that happens is that the camera always has a slight delay to capture what happens, giving it plenty of realism and creating suspense, as it’s not easy to predict when something is going to happen. Ironically, this is something that is not common in found footage movies, whose shots often feels staged and too well framed and precise for them to look real from a found footage. The takes, the good acting, and the frenetic pace keeps the viewer in never-ending tension that gets to be suffocating (in the good sense). 

The other important element in keeping the tension and suspense high are the zombies, the base of the story. These creatures are presented as ferocious, strong and fast and with a horrifying appearance that is reminiscent of those presented in movies like “28 Days Later” or “Dawn of the Dead (2004)”. The zombies present a constant menace for the protagonists and are the principal force moving them from place to place looking to escape from them. When the attacks come, the images are crude and bloody, in pair with the expectation they produce. 

The best thing in “[Rec]” is the way in which the story is built upon, particularly in how the key events are revealed. Many of these can go unnoticed to those who are not paying full attention, as the experience of including the viewer in the story extends to this aspect. Instead of the protagonist having to put the pieces together, it is expected that the viewer does it while the information is being put out. The ending is the best example of this, where a great deal of information about the origin of the infection is revealed but is never specifically said. 

While horror filmmakers across the world were dedicated to doing found footage movies copying the same problems that make them feel so artificial, this small production appeared on the scene and without much noise showed everyone how to correctly do a movie in this style. Not only does it present itself as one of the best found footage movies, but as one of the best contemporary horror movies, offering a fast-paced and fresh story inside of two saturated subgenres. This is one of the movies that every horror fan should watch at least one in their lives.

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