Quickie Review: [rec]

Another day, another Marla-come-lately review. Since most of you have probably already seen Jaume Balagueró and Paco Plaza’s Spanish film [rec], I won’t take up too much of your time, particularly because I’m going to do a Remake vs. Original with this and the American remake Quarantine next week!

So: [rec]–it’s good, no?

We begin with footage from host Ángela Vidal’s (Manuela Velasco) Insomniacstyle show titled While You Were Asleep. No, not While You Were Sleeping. That’s different. Ángela and her cameraman Pablo (Pablo Rosso) are filming a typical night in a fire station. They’re assigned to travel with appropriately yummy firefighters Manu (Ferran Terraza) and Álex (David Vert). They’re soon called to the scene of an apartment building, not yet understanding what the emergency entails. Ángela, Pablo, Manu and Álex are immediately locked in the apartment building with a police officer, a medical intern, a dozen anxious residents—oh yeah, and some straight up zombies. The surrounding police tell them that everything is under control, but is it?

IS IT?! (no.)

So what we have here is one of the easiest premises in horror, as demonstrated by The Blair Witch Project, Cloverfield and Paranormal Activity (reviewed here).  The entire sequence of events is captured by Pablo’s camera, allowing for shaky, raw footage, minimal cast and locations, a budget of less than $2million, creepy camera lighting and naked performances by the leads. And my favorite part! It’s only 78 minutes! Hooray!

The cast is solid. Manuela Velasco as While You Were Asleep host Ángela Vidal is charming, particularly in the beginning when she’s shooting hoops with the guys at the fire station. Her urgency to accurately document the traumatic events is admirable, and later, as her fear escalates, she’s quite convincing as a woman overcome by terror. We only hear cameraman Pablo’s voice throughout the film, but Rosso conveys an impressive degree of emotion with little else. The rest of the cast is great, as well, particularly Ferran Terraza as Manu. But don’t get too attached to anyone! I really wouldn’t make the mistake of assuming that because a character is cute, charming, or has had lots of screen time, it means that s/he will be spared.

The kills are absolutely sweet, as is the gore. We get a very thorough look at some seriously decent blood work. Plus creepy zombie kids, which are always fun. Like so.

Alas, our fair heroes failed to learn this very vital lesson:

even the little kids, you guys! EVEN THE LITTLE KIDS!

[rec] was captivating and well made, but I hoped for a bit more *punch*. I think I’d possibly heard too much hype beforehand, and having recently seen Paranormal Activity which was made for a fraction of the cost and far more effectively, I was a tad disappointed. That being said, [rec] definitely boasts some beautiful new scare tactics: the silhouettes of the police on the outside of the quarantined building, backlit by search lights, are absolutely thrilling. The emaciated zombie is freaky as hell, and I love the new conceit that those infected by the virus turn into zombies at different rates, depending on their blood type—meaning that we never know when a beloved character is going to go all flesh-ravenous on us. And the end was spectacular, just not spectacularly original. We’ve seen the night vision done—and done better— in Silence of the Lambs. Still and all, I ended the movie a little scared and mostly satisfied. I recommend it!

Review Preview:

On Wednesday, original champion [rec] will be challenged by American newcomer Quarantine in a vicious battle known as REMAKE VS. ORIGINAL! Who shall triumph?!

On Thursday, the David Cronenberg Retrospect is BACK with the movie that murdered my Jeff Goldblum crush, because…ew. Still: The Fly! Yay!

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10 Responses to “Quickie Review: [rec]”

  1. I should probably wait until you Original v. Remake post, but I saw the American remake before the Spanish original and, honestly, Quarantine was awesome and scary! And so was REC! BECAUSE THEY ARE THE EXACT SAME MOVIE. LITERALLY EVERYTHING ABOUT THEM IS EXACTLY THE SAME – SCRIPT, CAMERA ANGLES, TYPE OF CAMERA, LIGHTING, COSTUMES – EVERYTHING EXCEPT FOR THE NAME & THE ACTORS THEMSELVES – but even the actors sort of looked alike.

    I really wish that I had watched the original first – namely because originals are generally always better – but also because I wouldn’t have been so damn bored watching it! I can understand if REC was a classic 70’s or 80’s horror movie, and enough time had passed so that some unknown American movie director could come along and remake it, and make it in HIS OWN STYLE. But they were released less than a year apart! Is the entertainment industry truly out of ideas? (oh wait, someone made The Human Centipede, so I guess not). But come on!

    They are both great movies, and I would recommend them equally. To me, basically it boils down to if you don’t like reading subtitles, then go with the American one. If you understand Spanish and/or enjoy reading, go with the Spanish one.

  2. ps – this is actually leftyjonno commenting… i’m not sure why it says gswhcc

  3. Hey there gswhcc/jonny! Hah, that is *hilarious* that they are identical. That’s going to make for an interesting Remake vs. Original. I was struck by how similar the poster of Quarantine is to the last shot of [rec]–now I know why!

  4. i feel like the “while you were sleeping” correction was for me because I LOVE WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING.

    the blood type zombie transformation time idea is AWESOME! and also scary. v. v. scary.

  5. It *was* for you! And your bestie Bill.

  6. While You Were Sleeping! My fave Sandy B movie!! Sandy Cohen only has one ball!

    Um, I think you left out the most important part, which is WHAT HAPPENS TO THE A- BLOOD TYPE? Does it take us longer to mutate or not? I gotta know, for scientific reasons.

  7. I thought that this movie was very entertaining and they managed to get the suspense just right. It was creepy without a lot of things jumping out at you all the time. I will agree that it wasn’t as good as I expected but, same as you, I am probably holding it up to Paranormal Activity. It’s really interesting that they would make a shot-for-shot remake of a movie like this. Once again, Hollywood proves they have very few original ideas. I now remember seeing the trailers for Quarantine and I had no idea it was a remake. I’m glad I didn’t see it and then find out later that there was a Spanish language version out there.

    Nice touch with the Leslie Hall. That song is so awesome–and it teaches life lessons. That makes it the best song ever.

  8. Um, thanks for some Leslie and the Ly’s (and an inadvertent shout out for Iowa, her place of haling).

    I love [rec] oodles. It has definitely been my favorite horror movie in a while. Better than drag me to hell, I know I am probably blaspheming to the hilt right now. (Don’t get me wrong, I did love DMTH). But, that emaciated thing in the attic freaked me out for weeks! Also, I loved the realistic way they explain why the camera is there and still on during horrible things where most people would be trying to flee, or busy peeing their pants.

    I haven’t seen paranormal activity, but I hear people with the same reaction that you all had to [rec], overhyped, and a total let down. I saw [rec] without knowing anything about it, so I think that the surprise that came with it launched it into my faves. I’m afraid to see PA because I think that I’ll be let down majorly. Tell me I’m wrong!

  9. Who knows! It sounds like we had opposite situations, because I was wedding planning/honeymoonin’ for most of the PA hoopla, and then I’d heard so much about [rec], and the reverse was true for you. It is *definitely* worth a watch from a technical standpoint if nothing else.

    Yay Leslie and the Ly’s!

  10. [rec]2 is awesome too! Carried on where this one left off. Part 3 where are you????
    The raw talent and fast paced action on [Rec] films top any of those other ‘1st person’ horror flicks.
    We have a mini review in our site somewhere..

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