Time: 85 Minutes
Age Rating: Violence, offensive language, sex scenes & nudity
Manuela Velasco as Ángela Vidal
Pablo Rosso as Pablo
Ferrán Terraza as Manu
David Vert as Álex
Jorge-Yaman Serrano as Sergio
Vicente Gil as Older Policemen
Carlos Vicente as Guillem Marimón
Martha Carbonell as Mrs. Izquierdo
Director: Jaume Balagueró, Paco Plaza
A television reporter and cameraman follow emergency workers into a dark apartment building and are quickly locked inside with something terrifying.
I haven’t disliked the found footage movies that I’ve seen but its not been one of my favourite genres. One of those I have been meaning to check out was a Spanish film called [REC], which proved to be very popular, spawning sequels and an American remake named Quarantine. I decided to check it out, and it was far better than I expected it to be.
[REC] is a very straightforward and simple movie. It starts out following a reporter and her cameraman as they cover a night shift at a fire station, but an incident happens, they are locked into a building, and things quickly develop from there. It doesn’t explain too much and the details are very minimal. It is not made immediately clear to these characters what is happening and that goes to the audience to. You are right there with these people as everything escalates. It is a zombie movie, and when you look at the genre, like most of the movies there is definitely a familiarity. You’ve seen these zombie outbreaks happen like this before. However it is very well executed so it doesn’t really matter that much. The atmosphere is very intense, and there is a real feeling of desperation and hopelessness which only increases as the movie continues. It is very chaotic and if I watched the movie again, I could probably identify parts that might’ve been a bit too chaotic for its own good. Whatever the case, from what I experienced, it was incredible effective at giving that feeling nonetheless. One could say that there is a lack of substance to the story, and the characters are one dimensional. But I don’t think that the experience would’ve been as visceral if that was changed. This movie is very short at under 80 minutes, but it utilises every single minute to its fullest and not a second is wasted, so it really was the perfect length of the movie. The plot is very fast moving and never allows itself to drag, making sure it gains momentum over time. The final 30 minutes or so are where its at its peak terror, and ends with one of the most memorable final shots in a horror movie.
The performances are a bit rough around the edges, but fittingly realistic and intense. The characters are one dimensional, but the actors convey the urgency and threat around them. Even the physical acting of the zombies is good. Manuela Velasco plays the lead character as the reporter, and she delivers a very believable performance.
The direction from Jaume Balagueró and Paco Plaza is great and is what made the movie as effective as it was. The movie has a budget of a million dollars, so I’m not quite sure that I would call it low budget. Nonetheless, it doesn’t feel like an expensive movie either, and that only helps the feel of the movie and adds to the realistic and disturbing feel. Much of the movie is confined to one hotel, and it makes you feel closed in and claustrophobic, just like the characters. The shaky camerawork can often work against a found footage movie, but it fits this perfectly. The shakiness is used at the right moments and only adds to the tension and terror. Through the camera lens, you get a first-person view of everything that happens. Not only that but the use of a camera actually makes sense in the movie, the main characters are filming a news report initially and when things go sideways, they try to capture everything they can on camera. The practical effects and makeup are great and seem very real, especially in this found footage look. It is very violent and the gore is very effective.
[REC] is a lean, mean and tense ride, a simple approach that’s incredibly executed, strongly directed, and has solid performances. It’s my favourite found footage horror movie, and probably one of the scariest movies I’ve seen. If you like horror movies, I think it is well worth checking out, even if you’re not a fan of found footage films.