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 etc..etc..is 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...