[Rec] is a Spanish horror film that was co-written and directed by Jaume Balagueró and Paco Plaza. It was released to great critical acclaim and it uses the concept of a virus infection as a catalyst for a zombie outbreak.
It is an intense and high-octane movie filmed in a ‘found-footage’ style where the viewers are seeing supposedly raw footage taken directly from the a camera.
Ah, the dreaded shaky cam. This technique has been used and abused in more movies than I’m willing to count. Occasionally actually inducing nausea (looking at you, Cloverfield ( ), it is rarely used effectively.
[Rec] is one of the few exceptions. The documentary-style handheld camera is wielded with skill, and contributes to the film’s tension and realistic look. The filmmakers show us what we really need to see, and hide enough provoke genuine scares.
The true test of a great horror film is in its knowing how much to reveal. [Rec] uses gore and action efficiently; when the bites come you feel them, rather than being constantly bombarded with carnage. Although it all started with Blair Witch, this film is one of the reasons why found footage continues to be a viable genre staple.
The method is the madness here, the plot rundown is fairly simple. Following a couple of firefighters on what initially seems like a routine call for her reality-TV show, ‘While You’re Asleep’, Angela and her cameraman Pablo inadvertently witness the rapid spread of an apartment building’s zombie infection. The fire crew are called to the apartment block which is swiftly quarantined as the authorities try to work out exactly what is going on. We learn quickly that a virus is spreading through the apartment which is causing the occupants to act like rabid animals and causes them to attack anyone on site.
One of the aspects that makes the movie unique is the government’s extremely quick response to quarantine the contagion, sealing everyone inside (under threat of being shot) as soon as the second bite hits. Rather than focusing on survival in a zombie-infected world like most in the subgenre, [Rec] shows the inception of an outbreak and the subsequent action unfolds in the microcosm of the sealed apartment block.
The film’s only real problem is its lack of character development. There is a brief attempt when Angela interviews some of the building’s inhabitants, but not enough screen time is given to them to entice the audience to care if these people live or die. This issue doesn’t get rectified until the third installment of the series when new filmmakers take the helm, and the found footage style is discarded.
A possible reason for this lack of character development is because the audience is really supposed to identify with the camera, since it is their point of view. The use of the vérité style camera elicits an investigative response from the audience, heightening their vulnerability and building the suspense and fear. Along with Angela and Pablo, the spectator is searching for what may be lurking in the shadows, trying to find a way out, and seeking explanations for what they have witnessed. Eventually, the duo’s investigative reporting is successful in finding a possible origin for the infection.
The theme of witnessing is repeated several times throughout the film, with Angela frequently reminding Pablo to keep filming so there is a record of the building’s decent into chaos and the government’s treatment of those locked inside. This plays off of the idea of the reporter’s camera as evidence for police mistreatment of citizens. In this way, the film can be viewed with possible political undertones. These are individuals imprisoned in a deadly situation by their government, with little explanation or hope of escape. All great zombie films have underlying socio-political themes, with the creatures used to explore some part of the human condition or cultural failures, and [Rec] is no exception.
Watch the trailer for [Rec] below:
Watch the full movie:
|Buy the film at Amazon.com|
|Buy the film at Amazon.co.uk|
[Rec] was remade as ‘Quarentine‘ in the US and was directed by John Erick Dowdle. It was released in 2008 and received very mixed reviews.
Written by: Danielle Beauchea