REC

I am a big believer in watching the original version of a horror movie instead of the Americanized version to really get the taste of the movie’s plot and suspense. REC is that movie since it is the basis for the movie Quarantine that came out last year in 2008.  Jaume Balagueró and Paco Plaza who both love the genre horror and wanted to make a horror movie that was unique to the genre co-directed REC. The movie stars Manuela Velasco as Ángela Vidal, Ferran Terraza as Manu, etc. This modern horror movie was released in Spain in November of 2007. Since it’s premiere, REC has received many awards such as the Silver Scream Award in 2008 at the Amsterdam Fantastic Film Festival.

REC starts off as Ángela Vidal is taping the beginning segment that covers one of Barcelona’s local fire stations and what the night shift is like for her TV show “While You Sleep”. Her cameraman, Pablo, is taping everything that is going on in the fire station, which gives the film a first-person feel. The night starts off normal enough as the duo are given a tour around the fire station’s dining hall, sleeping quarters and are even treated to a basketball game. During the game, a call comes in about a woman being trapped within her apartment building. They arrive in time to find the tenants huddled in the entrance hall worried about the cause for the woman’s bloodcurdling scream. The police come down stairs to lead the two firemen on call, Álex and Manu, to the apartment in which the lady in question resides. A young woman comes out of the darkness and falls down dead in the apartment’s hallway. In the back, they find the old woman covered in blood and acting strange. The men try to reassure the woman that they are there to help and try to coax her to come down so that she can be taken to the hospital by ambulance. Suddenly the woman turns extremely hostile and bites the neck of one the policemen wounding him gravely. As the men dispatch the violent woman by shooting her in the chest, the remaining officer and Manu carry the wounded man down to the entrance hall with Ángela and Pablo taping the entire incident. When they try to get outside to take the officer to the hospital, they find the door has been barricaded from the outside. No explanation is given to why the building has been sealed off but instructions are given to the remaining officer to keep everyone inside until further notice. Panic ensues, as the tenants cannot fathom the reasoning behind the isolation being posed upon them. As they are arguing amongst themselves on what to do and how to escape the predicament, Álex falls down the stairs startling everyone. Later it is discovered that Álex as he stayed behind at the old woman’s apartment had been bitten and then tossed over the railing to the floor below. Ángela and Pablo follow the remaining cop and Manu as they all go back to the apartment to investigate. The woman’s body and that of the young girl have mysteriously disappeared when the group enters the apartment just to be attacked again by the old lady. The remaining cop shots the old lady killing her this time for good. Ángela unconvinced of what has just happened tells Pablo to rewind and replay that part of the tape to confirm the events leading up to the woman’s death. Ángela and Pablo keep recording the events despite threats by the policeman as they are all trapped with the residents inside the building that is surely becoming their tomb. At one shot, Ángela is trying to interview a little girl by the name of Jennifer. She lives with her parents and her dog Max in the building. Jennifer’s mother claims that her little girl just has tonsillitis. Max is supposedly at the veterinarian’s because he came down with something to cause him to become sick as well. Soon after the health inspector donning a HAZMAT suit is able to arrive and begins to investigate as well as treat the injured officer and Álex.  During the inspection, Pablo is hiding in the room next door to the men filming the health inspector treat the injured. To everyone’s shock and dismay, Álex and the wounded officer become violent like the old lady and begin attacking the men in the room. The tenant who is an intern is bitten and the room is closed off. The health inspector starts to explains that the disease is unlike any that has been encountered and for some reason it varies on blood type to how quickly a person gets infected and turns on those around them. Manu demands that the health inspector reveal more information, which he reluctantly tells them that the day before a dog was brought into a local veterinarian’s office with some kind of disease. The dog became horribly violent and attacked all the other pets at the clinic killing them. The BNC traced the disease from the dog back to the apartment building where it lived.  Ángela asks if the name of the dog was Max, whom the inspector confirms. This new information prompts everyone turns to Jennifer and her mother who distraughtly says over and over that Jennifer only has tonsillitis. Jennifer suddenly attacks her mother in violence. Everyone panics as Jennifer hisses and runs up the stairs. Trying to help, the inspector informs the distraught victims that the infectious disease causes people to turn into bloodthirsty savages. More and more people in the building become infected, and Ángela and Pablo are forced to fight them off. They find out that some of the corpses have disappeared and soon discover that the people presumed dead are now infected and chasing them. Trying to outrun the infected, Ángela and the remaining uninfected learn that there is a key that will open the door in the apartment building workshop. Inside there is an exit through the sewer system. Unfortunately, the key is located on the third floor in the intern’s apartment. Ángela, Pablo, and Manu fight the infected residents to the third floor apartment and find the key hidden in the intern’s desk. Manu stays outside to fend the infected off yet becomes infected himself leaving Ángela and Pablo to be the only survivors. They find themselves being forced upstairs to seek refuge in the penthouse that is supposedly uninhabited. Once inside, Ángela and Pablo discover that the penthouse is a house of unspeakable horror which leaves untold horrors to decide their fate in the darkness the penthouse holds.

            REC was filmed using the “shaky camera” technique that gave the film an ad-hoc (i.e., documentary) feel. The camera view during the movie that we feel Pablo is behind lends the ad-hoc feeling to REC. The directors admitted to wanting their movie filmed this way since a first-person view in the movie would make the film more believable to its audience. Also they admitted that the film was made in sequences so not even the actors would know what was next in the movie’s production in order to get a more realistic acting to the events that were taking place. When you watch Ángela jump as the firemen break the door down to the apartment, she isn’t faking her reaction since the actress didn’t rehearse that scene like that. The directors decided to leave out details to their actors/actresses so that the movie would be more convincing.

            REC is also every bit Spanish in its details in the movie. It captures these details, which are very peculiar to the Spanish way of life as well as design from the way the fire station is laid out spaciously to the equipment the firemen use. Even the cooling lobby of the apartment building that houses the infected shows Spanish influence in its detail. This is very refreshing for the genre of horror since it gives the genre a new feel and authenticity to the audience as they watch REC.

I really enjoyed this movie and found it to be more suspenseful and scary than Quaratine. In general, I would recommend it more to my audience than the remake.  It should be watched in Spanish (with English subtitles) if all possible to get the feel for the film as it was intended. REC is delightfully refreshing as a horror movie in this genre and I would definitely buy it for my home collection.

-Horror Movie Professor 

 

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