Horror. Worldview. Faith.

[Rec] – Review

[Rec] – Review

May 6, 2011

reviewed by Danny
directed by Jaume Balaguero, 2007

“REC” is the abbreviation seen on a video camera screen while recording, so it should be obvious going in that this Spanish horror film is in the hand-held, shakey cam tradition that first gained fame with The Blair Witch Project.  Unlike that film and its many imitators, [Rec] eschews all of the other bare-bones, amateurish elements from BWP in favor of a tight, beautifully simple plot and plenty of old school scares.   [Rec] is also a zombie/killer virus film that does that genre just as well as it does the found footage genre.  My only real issue is with how the film explains the outbreak, but, to be fair, I’d always prefer the cause of a zombie outbreak to be mysterious.

[Rec] follows a young reporter assigned to do a puff piece on the local fire department.  It opens with the kind of standard chit-chat with the firemen that we would expect from a news magazine piece, but when the station gets called out, things begin to go bad quickly.  They arrive at the scene to find that the emergency is that an old lady in the apartment building has gone a bit crazy.  Before long, she is attacking and ripping the flesh from one of the policemen on the scene.  By the time the crew gets the wounded policeman downstairs, they find the building surrounded by police and under quarantine.  So there is your basic premise—a small group of residents locked in an apartment building with zombie-like creatures.

Once the action gets started, [Rec] barely pauses to give the characters or the viewers time to breath.  Despite seeing the action unfold from through a camera lens, we are witness to some solid special effects, lots of gore,  and beautifully framed set-pieces.  I was especially impressed with a scene where the characters have to rush past a zombie handcuffed to a staircase railing.  It would have been so easy for that scene to become impossible to follow, but it is handled perfectly here.

Of course, the camera goes through the same shakiness and oblique angles that we often get in these films, but I was always able to focus on the action and follow the physical elements of the plot.  To accomplish this, our brave cameraman is often shooting in a way that makes no logical sense (like shooting our protagonist while being stalked by a zombie in a dark room—I’m pretty sure I’d have that night vision trained on the thing that was trying to eat me).  This concession was made in order to make the film easier to follow and to keep the protagonist central to the story, so it is hard to complain much about it.

During the films climatic scenes, we learn what has caused the outbreak.  The theological explanation for the zombie outbreak is just as ridiculous as George Lucas using metachlorian count to explain a Jedi’s use of The Force in the Star Wars prequels.  Wait a minute—make that more ridiculous than metachlorians, especially when one factors in the explanation for why the disease control people have locked down the building.

Click Here to purchase Rec

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