Dir: Jaume Balagueró, Paco Plaza
Cast: Manuela Velasco, Ferran Terraza
As in [Record]. Another film that mines the increasingly common gimmick (in horror) of the first-person shaky-cam narrative. Man Bites Dog, The Blair Witch Project, Cloverfield, Diary of the Dead,
etc, have all used this conceit - that what we are watching is actually
happening, or the faux-documentary. And now (or, at least, 2 years
ago) along comes this little Spanish horror flick doing the same dance.
Thing is, this one's good. Really good. This is what Romero's Diary
of the Dead coulda and shoulda been.
We start with
Angela, a news reporter, doing a kinda fluff-piece on the lives and
habits of firemen. After a bit of familiarizing us with both herself
and a couple firemen, an alarm comes in, beckoning the firemen to an
unknown crisis at a Barcelona apartment building, Angela and cameraman
in tow. What begins as a fairly routine call turns into a very
confusing and frightening descent into harnessed chaos. While
ostensibly a zombie film, [Rec]
is more about the interrelationships of people kept against their will
in close quarters, and how bonds are formed and emotions are frayed when
people are forced to act without a safety net.
filmmakers cleverly play with the viewers' senses and sound and lighting
are used to expert effect, showing just enough, but not too much. The
film takes a bizarre turn in the final 10 minutes, but if you can go
along for the ride after what seemed to me like a bit of a stretch
plot-wise - and one that admittedly comes out of left-field - then the
final scenes are incredibly frightening.
think it's silly or puerile to revel in films categorised as "horror",
especially with the world's economies crumbling before our eyes and
truly terrifying environmental threats that dwarf any cinematic ones,
but I think what the genre at its best can offer is a mirror of the
pressing issues of today, without having to conform to any kind of
constraints of traditional dramatic cinema. [Rec] is kind of a frenzied
hybrid of Night of the Living Dead
and Cloverfield, and if you dug either of those, you'll probably find
something very intriguing and surprising in [Rec], which touches on
strained relationships, bio-horror (think The Host),
and religious obsession all in an economical 76 minutes (even though
the box claims the running time is 89 minutes. Extra long credits?).
Be forewarned - the R1 Seville DVD has a default English-language audio track (a la Let the Right One In).
Be sure to change the settings to the original Spanish with English
subtitles for maximum enjoyment. Also, avoid the American remake Quarantine, which stumbles badly out of the gates by foresaking subtlety of character for blunt-object head trauma.