See REC before you read this review, see REC anyway…
TV presenter Angela Vidal (Manuela Velasco) and her cameraman Pablo are shooting a segment for a Spanish TV show ‘While You’re Asleep’. We see everything from the point of view of Pablo’s camera for the entire film.
Angela and Pablo are partnered with Manu and Alex, firemen working with a local Barcelona fire crew. For the first few moments of the movie we see Angela look around the fire station, interview the guys and play some basketball. Then finally there’s a call, a woman needs assistance in an apartment building. Not what Angela was hoping for but at least they get to go along for the ride…
At the apartment they are escorted upstairs by the two cops who are already in the building. The firemen break down the apartment door and find the elderly woman covered on blood. She suddenly attacks the policeman in charge and takes a huge bite out of his cheek and neck. Alex restrains her as the others run downstairs with the injured policeman. Angela tells Pablo to “tape everything”
As they try to get outside they discover that the building is in lockdown and a voice from outside informs them that the building has been quarantined. Suddenly Alex’s body hits the hall floor with a bloody thud. They run back up to the womans apartment and the policeman shoots the crazed woman as she runs at him. As they all look for an exit they are informed again from the voice outside that the building is quarantined and if they try to leave they’ll be shot.
Angela interviews the residents, one of whom is a young girl, Jennifer, who’s sick with a fever as was her dog Max who’s at the vets…
A health inspector enters the building to take blood samples from the now dead, police and fireman. During the procedure the bodies spring violently to life and attack everyone in the room. Then, all hell breaks loose and your nerves will be shredded.
The movie is all done at a frenetic pace and you don’t have any time to catch your breath.
There is some incredible footage in the apartment as things are ramped up even further. This is not going to end well. The use of night vision on Pablo’s camera during the finale reminded me of ‘The Descent’… in a good way.
The hand held camera is done far better than in ‘The Blair Witch Project’ or ‘Cloverfield’ and is much more believable due to the TV show premise. However, apart from the camera work, REC has nothing else in common with those movies, it is far better than either of them and in looking for a comparison the only one I could think of was ’28 Days Later…’ which is high praise indeed.
The cast are all excellent, their reactions to what’s going on appear believable and we really buy into their situation.
The effects are done incredibly well; visually the infected look great and there is more than enough blood to satisfy most horror fans blood lust. But it is the audio effects that are a standout, the howls and screams are unnerving, especially in the darkened shots.
However this really is the director’s film. Jaume Balaguero and Paco Plaza are the co-directors and on this evidence I’ll see anything they do next. The film clocks in a fast-paced 75 minutes; it looks great, is incredibly well executed and has the balls to ramp up the tension and take it to the films climax.
REC was remade in America as ‘Quarantine’ with Dexter’s sister Jennifer Carpenter in the lead role. It has been derided on certain horror themed sites as a tame, pale imitation of REC, but it is pretty good and worth watching… after you’ve watched REC of course. Quarantine has added 14 minutes to its running time but these moments are mainly spent introducing us to the characters and fleshing out their personalities. Although still hand held, the camera work in Quarantine is clearer than in REC, I know in some quarters that’s a big deal. I won’t write a review of Quarantine as it will be so similar to this but less satisfying.
Quality: 4 stars
Is it good: 5 stars