Films about the undead have become such a staple in horror cinema that we rarely bat an eye anymore when one, oozing congealed blood and bemused moans, is set upon audiences in the dark confines of a Regal cinema. The fact of the matter is that there is a stalemate going on right now between the creativity of Hollywood and Independent and foreign filmmakers who are proving their mettle in a stream of creative works that inadvertently distance themselves from audiences because of nonexistent big-studio backing. Nonetheless, we see shades of their success in the oft-berated remakes and adaptations that do flood our theaters and television sets, such as the shaky-cam zombie/possession film Quarantine or World War Z. Many people, for example, do not know that the former is actually a remake of the Spanish tour-de-force, [REC].
In [REC], a news reporter and her camera man, covering a story on the Barcelona’s local fire station, decide to go on a ride-along to a domestic disturbance call at a nearby apartment building. Once inside, it isn’t long before the group finds the doors have been locked behind them. And then the screams begin.
Those who have seen Quarantine would probably say that the above synopsis is almost word-for-word what they'd seen. So what sets the Spanish [REC] apart? First and foremost, we’re talking about a relatively original film that amps up the horror with its pivoting reality likeness and intrinsic sense of chaos. [REC] isn’t the kind of film that wraps up the viewing experience in a nice little bow—it thrives on throwing the camera this way and that, giving you sneak peeks at a horror that lies beyond without sucking its trump card dry: the unknown. [REC] is, in short, a front row seat to the sudden and brutal methods by which our very lives can be upheaved from the commonplace to the unimaginable (whether they be political, personal, or otherwise).
Nonetheless, at its very core, [REC] is first and foremost a horror film, and one with enough jump scares, bloodlust, howling, and mystery to keep any audience member on their toes. A film which doesn’t dwell on the why, [REC] dispenses with any sort of explanation as to the cause of how those occupying the complex have been turned into bloodthirsty, raving lunatics. There is one scene in particular when the reporter, cameraman, and firefighters (joined by the apartment’s surviving tenants) are collected in the main foyer. One of the bomberos is still upstairs with an injured woman, and everyone has just found out they’ve been locked inside, when BAM! Said bombero lands splat on the ground between the group, thrown downstairs by... well, you just have to watch the film. It’s the classic “don’t go up there!” motif, but one forced on men and women who we might otherwise believe are capable of fighting off baddies (i.e. we’re not dealing with stupid teenagers).
This isn’t to say that Quarantine is bad, or that someone would have bad taste in film just because they prefer the remake over the original (insert reasons ranging from it being foreign/subtitled to less recognizable cast), but it’s undeniable that films like [REC] paved the way for the fast-paced mockumentary adrenaline-laced thrill rides that Hollywood is so fond of taking credit for—or at the very least, gives the genre some merit.
The version of [REC] reviewed did not come with any special features.
[REC] is rated R for bloody horror violence and language. Click HERE for more information on questionable content within this film.
[REC] is available at the following retail stores and online markets:
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