Horror – Starring Manuela Velasco, Ferran Terraza, Jorge-Yamam Serrano, Pablo Rosso, David Vert. Written by Jaume Balaguero, Paco Plaza and Luiso Berdejo. Directed by Jaume Balaguero and Paco Plaza
Pretty, perky TV presenter, Angela and cameraman Pablo are filming through the night at a fire station in Barcelona for a show called, ‘While you’re asleep’. Bored with the lack of action, Angela is excited to accompany a couple of firemen – Manu and Alex – on a call out to help an old woman trapped in an apartment building. Expecting a routine call, instead Angela, Pablo and the firemen find themselves sealed inside the apartment building by the Health Authorities with a couple of policemen, the residents, a crazy, blood-thirsty old lady and a sick child, as a zombie-like virus spreads out of control.
With no opening credits, Rec opens with TV presenter Angela (Manuela Velasco – a real TV presenter in her native Spain) recording an introduction for ‘While you’re asleep’, fluffing her lines, and being interrupted by sirens, giving the found footage film an immediate realistic look. What is most striking about the movie is just how believable and genuine the actors are. Angela is confident and relaxed, even when confronted by a dining hall full of male fire fighters, and throughout the beginning of the film, she is commanding, always in control, but personable and charming – the perfect TV personality. The firemen at the station react exactly how you imagine ‘normal people’ would when being filmed. They are playfully boisterous but respectful of Angela in the dinning hall, are a little awkward or self conscious when interviewed, and cast nervous but excited glances to the camera.
As a found footage film, multi award winning Rec is one of the best I have seen. The fact that we are viewing through the eyes of Pablo (Pablo Rosso), a TV cameraman, means not only is there a valid reason why the camera keeps rolling when the violence and terror escalates – after the old lady trapped in her apartment attacks and bites a policeman – but the quality of the camera work is of a high standard. Even the escalating shakiness and sound disruptions serve only to add to the sense of claustrophobia and confusion. At times, the camera is turned off leaving a silence and black screen that are as powerful as any image in creating anticipation and fear.
The high levels of realism – helped by the absence of a music score – continue faultlessly throughout the movie. The apartment block residents, a mixed bunch of a mother and child, a young family, an elderly couple, a young intern, and a bachelor, who have all been ordered by the police to gather in the building’s lobby, are all portrayed convincingly and naturally. To heighten the realism, in a scene where Alex (David Vert) falls down the stairwell, the other actors were not warned this would happen, and so their subsequent reactions captured on camera were genuine.
As the terror takes hold on everyone sealed inside the building, it is interesting to watch as order is lost to mayhem, characterised most notably when the authority figures, and the confident Angela descend into helplessness and hopelessness. Angela and Pablo’s role now is to ‘Tape everything’ that happens inside the building so that others will know what has happened.
Spanish with subtitles, Rec is fast paced, tense and exciting. I can’t find a single thing to fault. Beautifully shot and tightly written, with high levels of realism, Rec sweeps you off your feet and carries you on a tide of crazed ‘rage’ style zombies. Rec as been remade, almost scene for scene, as the American Quarantine (2008), but I recommend that you don’t get put off by the subtitles and watch Rec instead, it really is the superior of the two versions.
Rating 5 out of 5
By Lisa Richardson