As horror fans, we tend to pride ourselves on not getting scared. Maybe we get a rush from sitting through a terrifying movie, and staying outside of it. But that’s no fun! So once in a while I go in telling myself to relax, to get sucked in, to let myself jump.
I did not do this when I saw REC - it got me all on it’s own.
The film opens on a reporter. She and her cameraman are covering the late shift at a fire station and are anxiously waiting for something exciting to happen. When a distress call is received from an old lady, the team heads over to her building only to find there is complete chaos inside. There is a mysterious outbreak of illness, turning people into rabid, flesh-eating, crazies. As the bodies mount it becomes clear that there is only one thing to do - quarantine. And so begins a very long night.
Showing everything from the cameraman’s lens, this film properly takes advantage of the tension that can be created by creating a claustrophobic space. The handheld cam is shaky when it needs to be, but not overused (ahem, Cloverfield). The limited view keeps the audience alert, because these speedy zombies can be anywhere, and the frustration of not being able to look around will drive you nuts… in a good way. Keep in mind, this film was made the same year as Paranormal Activity but was not released in North America until some time after. So it’s part of the original genius, not the stale trend. Because this is a one-cam film, there is very little noticeable editing and the film is mostly made up of long takes and long shots. And yet, things happen really quickly. It’s incredibly dark, so zombies seem to just pop out of the abyss and run at you full speed. It really is something! The recipe for jump-scares may not be so perfected in any other movie, past or present.
An American version of the film was released in 2008 by the title Quarantine, but was not given very positive reviews. I have not seen it but have heard from many that it doesn’t have the same effect as REC, despite its complete mimicking. Meanwhile in Spain, REC’s popularity grew as the series continued with a second in 2009, and a third in 2012. The fourth is in the post-production phase and returns to the characters from REC 1 and 2. The third was an interesting divergence form the series as it focused on new characters with an emphasis on black comedy that simply wasn’t in the first two. Nonetheless, it’s a fun ride, and really amps up the Final Girl conventions.
My advice for those who have yet to visit this franchise is that you get on this immediately. And don’t forget to hit the lights!