Saturday, October 18, 2014

Film Review: [Rec] (2007)

[Rec] (Review)
Spain/2007
Format Viewed For Review: Blu-ray (eOne Films)
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No
A 31 Days of Halloween Special Review!*

"...a contemporary horror masterpiece."
 
Television reporter Angela Vidal (Manuela Velasco) and her cameraman, Pablo, cover the night shift at a local fire station for their series While You're Sleeping. Angela and Pablo tag along to a routine call in an apartment, which quickly spirals into madness...

[Rec] is a fairly simple story. The camera crew arrive with the firemen to find some police officers have already arrived. The call concerns an old woman's bloodcurdling screams from her apartment – most of the residents have already gathered in the main hall. However, the routine call spirals into madness when the old woman viciously bites an officer, and the occupants of the apartment complex find themselves quarantined. Much of the rest of the film follows the survivors as they try to find out why they're quarantined, find an escape route, and survive a mysterious disease. The ending is fantastic – a terrifying ending with a nice pinch of originality for the genre.

As if the film wasn't original enough already. [Rec] is a breath of fresh air for a genre that has become stale – or rather, the found-footage sub-genre of horror that has grown repetitive and boring in recent years. It's much more than a “zombie” found-footage horror movie – both in style and narrative. As simple as the story may sound, it packs plenty of surprises, plenty of character, and most certainly packs in plenty of terror. And, I'm talking pure terror.

Whether it's the claustrophobic settings, the nail-biting suspense, or the jolting jump-scares, [Rec] aims to petrify. And it succeeds tenfold. The suspense is nerve-shredding; in this case, I think the tight corridors and stairwells, as well as the found-footage style, contribute greatly to the suspense – it creates an effective cone vision that block you off from the rest and keeps you on edge. Since the suspense is very effective, this a rare case where the jump-scares are actually frightening. The visual presentation is also scary – there are some chilling visuals, including the overall design and the gore.

The acting is very impressive, especially by horror standards. By any standard, actually, the acting is great. Manuela Velasco is a great leading lady, very charismatic and genuine in emotion. In fact, the entire cast captures the sense of urgency and panic perfectly – I was panicking myself! The film is, of course, a found-footage movie. Therefore, some of the camerawork is shaky. However, I didn't find it as annoying as I usually do – I mean, it was occasionally nauseating, but it also created a sense of realism and, again, panic. Directors Jaume Balaguero and Paco Plaza are fantastic in creating pure terror. The suspense is superb, the visuals are chilling, the atmosphere is always ominous (you never feel safe), and even the jump-scares are incredibly effective.

Overall, Rec is a contemporary horror masterpiece. It was one of my favorites when it first released, and it still manages to scare me. There are some minor plot contrivances and now-cliches (I think this film is responsible for the “Record everything” cliché, due to its emphasis), but not nearly enough to hinder an otherwise perfect horror film. So, I would give this film a 9.5/10, but I only use whole numbers in my reviews, so I have to round up to a 10/10. (yeah, yeah, excuses excuses.)

Score: 10/10
Parental Guide: Strong violence and blood, some partial nudity.

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