Wednesday, 31 October 2012

[•REC] (2007)

 Visceral and engaging, Rec takes the horror of the zombie film and the claustrophobic tunnel vision of the found footage genre and combines them to powerful effect.

Blair Witch meets 28 Days Later would be my poster quote for this film. Zombie films often rely on grand set pieces to get by; there's a reason "horde" is one of the most common terms used to describe the undead. Counter to that, found footage films tend to have the monsters go unseen for most if not all of the movie. Two conflicting ideals that successfully walk a tightrope in this independently produced piece of work.

Rec is set almost entirely in a Barcelona apartment block (and as such the film is in Spanish, by the way). Television reporter Angela and her cameraman Pablo are filming a "night in the life" of the local fire crew when they go on a call out to help out an old woman who has fallen in her flat. Things go from mundane to horrific as Angela gets the spectacle she wanted when the government unexpectedly seals the building and starts a biological containment program. infections and tempers flare up as the residents and rescue workers struggle to escape and to even just stay alive.

Rec follows a standard set by the outstandingly authentic Blair Witch Project in 1999 and gets on the list of where the first person perspective works as an integral part of the ensemble and isn't just a gimmick or a crutch like it is in so many cases (I'm looking at you Diary of the Dead). It makes sense in the context: this is some college kid who's suddenly got a noble sense of "the world needs to see this" but reporters whose job it is to cover what goes on around them, and as such grants them some use of proper equipment and technique rather than just crazy shakycam that any old punter with a a camera could get.

Considering the majority of the film and the plot is relatively original and entertaining (as original as you can get in the zombie genre, at least) it does take a disappointing, almost cop-out style take on resolving the infection at the end, but it's not so bad as to ruin the rest of the film.

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