Six months after the rage virus was inflicted on the population of Great Britain, the US Army helps to secure a small area of London for the survivors to repopulate and start again. But not everything goes to plan.
"REC" turns on a young TV reporter and her cameraman who cover the night shift at the local fire station. Receiving a call from an old lady trapped in her house, they reach her building to hear horrifying screams -- which begin a long nightmare and a uniquely dramatic TV report. Written by
REC is a film that utilises the POV (Point of View) camera technique for the entirety of its duration. It is a technique in which the person behind the camera is a character that is integral to the plot, narrative and story of the film. In brief, REC is a horror film that begins with the crew of a TV show, called While You Sleep, making a documentary about firemen. As the film progresses the crew are lucky enough to accompany the fireman on a call out to a local apartment building.
Undoubtedly and unsurprisingly REC will be measured by the film The Blair Witch Project, especially given its plot and the manner in which the film plays out. Comparatively REC is also a horror, low budget, sticks to a female lead and has an ending that is very similar. Although The Blair Witch Project was a ground breaking film, given its illustrious marketing campaign and widespread fooling of audiences, if the two are to be judged purely on their viewing merits then REC is by far the superior if anything REC is the film that the Blair Witch should have been. It is the film that I wanted to see when I queued up in the rain, 10 years ago full of hype, anticipation and adolescent excitement.
Despite REC being a better film than The Blair Witch Project some critics have attacked it for employing such a tired technique that has been used too much in recent films (i.e. Cloverfield and the forth coming Diary of The Dead). The method that has been employed in REC is, I believe, a method that is now firmly embedded in the medley of cinematic processes that a film-maker may chose to exert. It seems strange to me that once a new technique is discovered or employed and put to use regularly, people and critics complain especially when it works. Granted, if we are subjected to a recent flurry of films all using similar methods then yes, it deserves further scrutiny and what usually surfaces is that greedy studios are exploiting market trends.
The film is co-directed by Jaume Balaguero and Paco Plaza and they have clearly dipped into the bucket of clichés with REC, but in doing so they have created something that is both fresh and reinvigorating. It should be noted that clichés aren't always a bad thing and when put to good use can give the audience exactly what they came to see. It's true that the plot is minimal and there are loose ends, but then the vast majority of horror films often suffer from these traits, and sometimes purposefully, but with REC it doesn't make the film any less enjoyable. It is also evident from the plot and the methods employed that the film is very low budget, but this does not do it any harm, instead it complements the narrative and increases the films appeal.
I believe the true quality of the film lies in its ability to cleverly use the history of the genre and the bare minimal of resources to its maximum potential and, unlike Cloverfield, there's little room to doubt the reasons for the cameraman to continue filming and this is (like Blair Witch) due to the fact it's his job. He is there to film a documentary and in true cameraman style his instincts take over. The acting on show here is also a lot better than Cloverfield and the people all look normal, some are even unattractive.
To put it bluntly REC contains some of the most fear inducing and scariest scenes of recent times. It achieves a level of fear that's rarely experienced in cinema and if watching the film carefully it can be seen how. REC has been made by people that are incredibly familiar with the horror genre and fans will recognise the homage's and the inspirations used, from Evil Dead, to The Shining, to 28 Days later and many more. With such a wealth of horror-viewing-experience combined with inspired film-making they are able to draw upon some of the best moments in horror history.
Towards the final reels the film plays like an amalgamation of ideas and inspirations. One of which is the influence of contemporary video gaming as some scenes allude to how certain computer games work (most notably first person shooters) and this is supported by the POV technique as we, the viewer, live the character of the cameraman much in the same way a gamer lives the character he/she is in control of. This notion is furthered by the different levels in the apartment building, the films use of rooms, the final scenes and several allegories to various computer games including Resident Evil, Alone in the Dark and Silent Hill.
For a feature film it is incredibly short at only 75 minutes, in fact it is closer to the length of a TV documentary which is perhaps its aim. I cannot recommend this film enough and have even tried to construct my review in a way as to not give too much away; as it is a film that needs to seen. Watch it with the lights off, with a friend and in a small room. Enjoy.
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