Even though [REC] has been on my radar for over a year now, it’s not something I was overly excited about. It’s not that it didn’t sound like a cool project – especially having Jaume Balaguero and Paco Plaza co-direct it – it’s just that pretty much every single Filmax movie is the same. They look the same, feel the same, play the same and even have similar stories, which is why I figured this collaboration would be just another “good rental” – boy was I wrong. [REC], following similar themes to BLAIR WITCH and DIARY OF THE DEAD, is an ambitious low budget first person film that takes place in near-real time over the course of one night.
The film turns on a young TV reporter and her cameraman who cover the night shift at the local fire station. Receiving a call from an old lady trapped in her house, they reach her building to hear horrifying screams — which begin a long nightmare and a uniquely dramatic TV report.
If I could have my way I’d tell you to stop reading this review right now and go see the movie, but unfortunately it probably won’t see the light of day here in the States until after the remake (Quarantine) arrives in theaters next October… (In a perfect world.) What’s really effective about [REC] is the unknown and having no clue what to expect. Originally I thought what I was seeing was just another ghost film, when actually it’s a quasi self-contained zombie movie.
What most movies fail to do is heighten the suspense, action and violence until the very last frame; most drop the ball around the third act – but not [REC]. Once sh-t hits the fan what transpires is non-stop madness. The infected are extremely creepy as they make really odd noises, scream high pitch squeals and run at their victims faster than any previous zombie-esque film. The way suspense is built is nothing new, but it is exceptionally executed. Because everything is first person we get loads of suspense just from that – we see the cameraman having to walk around handcuffed zombies, there’s a segment where the lights go out and he’s forced to use night vision and when things pop out of the shadows to attack it’s almost as if you’re standing right there. In fact, you never even see the cameraman, it’s almost as if he’s you!
As the film escalates the situation goes from under control to loose cannon to complete chaos, ending in what could be one of the scariest moments ever caught on film. My nails were dug deep into the armrest of the seats and I found myself howling in excitement nearly ever few minutes. [REC] has it all and is probably one of the best Spanish horror films in recent memory. There are buckets of blood used, well-developed characters, a wonderful twist, a good solid story and a finale that will ensure you leave the theater in shock. I cannot stress enough that you should see this in a theater if possible (check out BDTV for fan reactions at Sitges). Either way I give [REC] the B-D stamp of approval and smile at the fact that something extraordinary has finally come out of Filmax.