Director – Jaume Balaguero, Paco Plaza
Cast – Manuela Velasco, Ferran Terraza, Jorge Serrano, Pablo Rosso, David Vert, Vicente Gil, Martha Carbonell, Carlos Vicente, Maria Teresa Ortega, Manuel Bronchud
Release Year – 2007
Reviewed by John of the Dead
This Spanish film rocked the horror realm in late 2007 and reiterated the fact that the US no longer has a stranglehold on good horror. Utilizing the all-too-common-these-days POV filming tactic, this flick gets the POV aspect right on and did what The Blair Witch Project, Cannibal Holocaust, Diary of the Dead, and Cloverfield failed to do…scare the utter shit out of you.
REC follows a late night Spanish news reporter named Angela Vidal and her cameraman Pablo. Tonight’s segment is about a day in the life of a firefighter and Angela has been assigned to document what goes on at the local fire station. The night is just like any other slow night until the fire station gets a call originating from a local apartment complex. Angela and Pablo manage to get permission to tag along with the firemen, and upon arrival at the complex realize that there is something very strange going on. Minutes after entering the building they come into contact with a tenant who exhibits terrible rage and viciously attacks an officer. The situation is too much for the news crew and in their attempt to leave the building they realize their luck has gotten much worse. The apartment complex has been sealed from the outside, with no explanation from law enforcement. The news crew, a few officers and firefighters, and many frightened tenants must now brace for survival in a place littered with an ever-growing number of infected sociopaths in a building with no routes for escape.
I cannot fully explain to you how awesome this film is. I have seen these “infected” pseudo-zombie flicks many times before, but never to the extent that this film takes that horror sub-genre. The dark and gloomy sets set up the perfect atmosphere for this type of film, and this flick breathes “claustrophobia” down your spine. If you know me then you know I am a huge HUGE fan of “nowhere to run” horror films, and this flick is the best one I have ever seen in that category. Directors Jaume Balaguero and Paco Plaza did a fantastic job with this film’s direction, never letting up once the tension begins. Even the first 15 minutes or so of development move by at a great pace. It is obvious these guys know how to make a good horror film, and that pacing is key with this genre. Why? Well because most horror films simply do not have the content to support a long or slow film. The objective is to scare, not to touch the heart. Well…these guys defied all of that by writing in some very interesting aspects I have never seen before in this sub-genre.
My goal of not ruining this film’s epic story will keep me from revealing some details, but I’ll divulge a bit. What I really thought made this film’s story awesome is the background information behind how the virus got in the apartment complex, and how it came to existence as well. I am a huge fan of religion being thrown into horror, especially the Catholic religion. No, I am not a Catholic, so I really do not have a bias. It just seems that out of all of the world’s well-known religions, the Catholic religion seems to deal with horrific elements more often, such as the element of demon possession. The idea in this film that demon possession is tied together with the infection is epic, and is an element I have never seen before in this type of horror film. Well done by writers/directors Jaume Balaguero and Paco Plaza, as well as co-writer Luis Berdejo.
The rest of the storyline for this flick is a great one, and throws in many different elements to keep the viewers interested and in awe. At first we are just as confused as the characters we are watching, and then slowly as more and more information leaks to them about what is going on around them, we experience the same horror as they do. That is probably the greatest and most rewarding aspect of the POV type filming, we get to be put in the shoes of those we are watching on film. These types of flicks tend to get annoying at times, but they do accomplish feats that normal filming cannot.
I have absolutely no gripes with this film because this one does it all. We get a good amount of gore, awesome writing, awesome pacing, great direction that produces many shocking scares, and the lead actress is hot as hell.
Overall, this is an amazing horror film that I recommend to all fans of the genre. If you are skeptical about the POV type of filming, don’t be. This film uses the tactic perfectly and gives us one of the best horror films of the decade.
– I ranked this film #1 in my Top 50 Horror Movies of the Decade(1-10) post.