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[Rec] (2007)

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Plot Summary:
"(Rec) tells the story of Ángela, a sensationalist reporter, who follows the Barcelona Fire Brigade into an old building in which a strange incident has been reported. This incident unfolds as a 28 days later-like outbreak that turns victims into furious as well as highly contagious zombies. Ángela, the cameraman, the firefighters and some neighbors are trapped when the Police isolate the building due to an unknown biological threat. Now they must fight the infected in order to survive and reveal the secret behind the disease."

Review by
Steven Davies
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Review Date: 29 August 2008 My Rating: out of 5


Released earlier this month onto DVD here in the UK was Spanish horror-hit '[REC]'. It’s the tale of a local TV reporter and her cameraman who get caught up in a strange and bloody incident in a quarantined building along with the residents, local authorities and small fire crew.

It's truly starting to become more and more difficult these days to shine new life into the horror market. To provide audiences with a new and refreshing 'scare-tactic' is slowly becoming obsolete. '[REC]' has turned it's hand to such a 'tactic' by churning out a mini-fright fest using real-time action all from the point of view of the TV station's cameraman through his lens.

WAIT...I hear you cry. Surely that's been done time and time again? Arguably you're right, it has. This by no means is the first time such a technique has been implemented into the genre, in fact 'The Blair Witch Project' will probably be the forefront movie and most remembered in history for this. But '[REC]' isn't merely a copycat flick trying to cling on to past horror glories - it's taken the idea and breathed a bit of life into it.

'[REC]' however falters greatly and very sadly on two levels. The first simply being it's in Spanish. As gut-wrenching and head-shaking as it is it's a fact that English-speaking audiences will 9 times out of 10 prefer to go to the theatre and watch an English speaking movie. There's more money in it for the big wigs, there's more reach to the brain dead and more accessibility all round. It's a sad sad fact especially in a time when international horror is becoming something of a phenomenon. In fact, trying to find good, if not great, horror movies these days that aren't Spanish, French, Korean, Japanese getting tough.

Secondly, it’s all about the timing. It's been a long time since we've seen the use of handheld camera perspective throughout an entire movie to tell a story and to help the audience member feel and become part of the experience they're seeing. In February this year UK audiences were treated to the very good 'Cloverfield' which utilised this technique very well and in such a different way to what we've seen in the past. Next up in March we saw 'Diary of the Dead', Romero's return to the zombie franchise. Sadly, it was shit. Finally came '[REC]', 2 months too late. Everyone I spoke to referred to it as an imitation, a reproduction - without realising that it was there, we were just all waiting for it to arrive.

'[REC]' treats audiences to some genuine scares and quite disturbing imagery over its 75 minute run. The opening scenes at the fire station, although perfectly fine, started to frustrate me early on but the movie more than made up for this when the crew arrives at the building. From here on in there is literally no breathing space and the pace is pushed right up into top gear and rarely attempts the break pedal.

The movie has been blessed with great direction and even better make-up effects; however, a word to the wise...dump the marketing team. Has no-one ever heard the term less is more. It's a huge shame that some excellent scenes, setups and shocks have been ruined by over-exposure in the media. Half the movie's best bits had been blown in all the promo footage weeks before the release.

But still, great job all round. There are likeable characters and genuine jolts and scares. The story itself may feel a little tired but the delivery and style of story-telling here is excellent. And finally a quick word on Manuela Velasco who plays local reporter Ángela. Even though she was slowly starting to annoy me towards the end who wouldn't want to look at Manuela a hell of a lot more? And was it just me but I couldn't stop thinking after watching '[REC]' that that final scene should have been how 'The Blair Witch Project' should have ended! Creeeeeepy...

Reviewer: Phil Davies Brown @horrorasylum
Location:Scotland, UK
Review Date: 22 May 2008 My Rating: out of 5

The latest horror sensation from Spain begins as TV reporter Angela Vidal and her cameraman are sent out to cover the night shift at a local fire station for a documentary. The ambitious reporter is bored at first until a call comes in and the duo follow the firemen to a residential building where an old woman who is trapped in her apartment has been screaming for help. As the building’s residents look on, the firemen discover that the woman has become rabid. As the building is quickly sealed off, those locked inside must try to stay alive whilst Angela and her cameraman record everything so that people will know the truth.

REC comes to UK shores on a wave of hype with many credible sources proclaiming it terrifying, but sadly, in my opinion at least, it fell a little far of the mark.

Perhaps an unfair victim of bad timing, REC comes to us after two other handheld horror films, namely Cloverfield and Diary of the Dead. This means that by default alone it immediately loses some points, as most of the general public will see this as a copycat.

The film’s premise does justify the shooting style and the subject matter is definitely relevant to today, but I couldn’t help thinking that I’d already seen it all before. Apart from those films mentioned above, Right at Your Door was another very similar effort and one that I couldn’t stop comparing this to whilst watching.

The cast do good jobs, with Manuela Velasco’s Angela managing to appear totally inept at her job but excellent in a crisis (even if she does handle it by screaming really loudly for the duration). The older cast members come across as very likeable and realistic which also adds to the proceedings.

REC tackles such topical issues as viral outbreaks, government conspiracies, racism, religion and whom we should blame when things go wrong, yet it is never preachy nor overly sociological, managing to present its story as background to the main event, which is a zombie outbreak.

This is very well made but sadly unfortunate timing and inept marketing (all the good bits have been shown in trailers, clips and even in the SKY Movies documentary screened before release) meant that I didn’t jump once, as I knew what to expect every step of the way. Even the few bits not previously shown were extremely predictable.

REC is a good film that neatly ties together a range of relevant issues, which will undoubtedly scare the casual viewer. It’s far superior to Diary of the Dead but I didn’t enjoy it as much as I had hoped.

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