Director – Jaume Balagueró, Paco Plaza

Writer – Jaume Balagueró, Luis Berdejo

Starring – Manuela Velasco, Javier Botet, Manuel Bronchud, Martha Carbonell


The reason I am not a huge fan of the horror genre isn’t because I am easily scared but because there is rarely a horror film (especially nowadays) that is even remotely scary in any way to me. Usually it’s recycled crap that relies on the audience jumping because of loud noises alone. [REC] is not only decent it’s a legitimately scary and very effective 80 minute ride.

A news report crew decide to follow a team of fire-fighters as they respond to an emergency call in an apartment building. They expect everything to be routine but soon after arriving everyone realises that there’s a lot more to it and soon come across a few raging tenants who seem to be infected with some sort of virus.

[REC] is pretty much everything that a horror film should be. Firstly, and most importantly, it’s legitimately scary. I crave good quality and actually frightening horror films (especially since there is a draught of them in cinemas nowadays) that can keep me on the edge of my seat, breathing heavily and generally frightened from start to finish and [REC] does that in spades.

To accomplish being scary the film employs a number of crucial elements to make that so. It introduces us to likeable enough characters, when usually horror movie characters are annoying, makes us care about them as much as we possibly could and sets them on their way. If you didn’t know beforehand what was ahead, in a general sense anyway, you could possibly think you have walked into the wrong movie. The first ten minutes follows a news reporter as she wanders around a fire station seeing how it functions. Soon the fire-fighters get a call about a disturbance in an apartment building. Once we arrive everything isn’t so routine from then on and soon, once we go to investigate the disturbance of a screaming resident, the horror starts and boy does it work.

The film will no doubt be compared to the other films, recent or otherwise, that use the handheld camera technique. The Blair Witch Project started it off and from then on there was a whole siege of them, most recently is the mysterious Cloverfield and George A. Romero’s mediocre Diary of the Dead. In my opinion [REC] blows all of those out of the water in terms of its use and effectiveness of the in-camera technique. There are the automatically creepy long and dark corridors, lights turning off and on inexplicably and the general notion that anything could come out of any corner at any moment. That’s the main strength of the film; the fact that you don’t know where the next jump-scare is going to come from. The key to making a jump-scare effective, and not just relying on a natural reaction from the audience to jump back when they hear a loud noise, is to time it perfectly. [REC] not only just has jump-scares where it supposed to but it waits and waits and waits, lingering on something on-screen that the audience is just waiting to jump out at you. It hangs on so long that you let your guard down for just enough time that the film makes you jump out of your skin despite your best efforts to see it coming. I would need the hands of three or four people to count how many times I jumped throughout this film and for a film to “get me” in that way I give it major credit.

Something else that’s an important part of making a film scary is to have believable acting and more specifically that their sense of being scared is believable. It’s rare that the reactions and fear of a character in a horror film are anywhere near believable; they are usually whiny and annoying. [REC] also gets top marks for all the acting involved but especially of the lead actress who plays the news reporter. She does the heavy breathing, the screaming and the general scared-out-of-her-mind routine that the audience is feeling.

What I also loved about [REC], aside from the fantastic scares it provides, is the fact that it doesn’t explain everything to the audience and it doesn’t provide a safe or happy ending, nor does it provide a proper resolution. It doesn’t feel like a proper horror film in the traditional sense but rather it keeps its extreme sense of immediacy and therefore making it all the more frightening to the audience.

I am striving to think of anything I didn’t like about this film. When you’re in the zone of experiencing the film you pretty much forget any flaws that it might have. Thinking about it in retrospect I guess you could say it takes a little too long to get into the swing of things and for some it may be a little too much to take. But anyone who makes the effort and lays down the money to see it will be looking for as full-on of a horror film as possible and needless to say [REC] does that.

My first reaction when the end credits came up on-screen was, “Now that’s how you make a horror film.” As I have said it has pretty much everything a horror film should. It’s atmospheric, it holds your attention, it keeps you on the edge of your seat until the credits and above all it’s genuinely scary. And with a horror what more can you ask for?

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