by Lee Hazell
[Rec] is a low budget horror movie that arrives to us from Spain by way of George A. Romero. The film focuses on a young female daytime TV show reporter and her cameraman, through who, we see all of the action, although we never actually see him. They are following a crew of firemen on an overnight shift when they are called up to save an old lady trapped in her apartment screaming the place down.
What follows is one of the leanest, most economic Zombie movies ever created. At a slender one hour fifteen minutes this film wastes no time setting up it’s characters and even less mowing them down, cleverly using the hand-held camera motif to omit anything unnecessary to the plot or the action. There is not a single second of celluloid not put to good use.
But all of this would come to nothing if the creativity of the film did not show the same level of ingenuity and originality in the plot. God thing then it does. The film is claustrophobic, panic inducing and unflinchingly violent. The group dynamics between the authorities, the residents and the two leads feel remarkably authentic given the extreme nature of their situation, and their conversations, their interviews and their own irrational behaviour add to the growing sense of dread and paranoia the film makes itself an expert at imposing upon the audience.
The most impressive thing about the film however is how it grounds itself in reality. For a film about a zombie outbreak there is a kitchen sink quality to the proceedings. Wounds look genuine and there is no exaggerated acts of heroism or show piece moments of gore that usually feel so forced in movies of this nature. In keeping the scale small, by sticking to a small number of compact locations and keeping the action in real time, it heightens the belief that a disaster of this magnitude could easily happen.
Shame then that the film opts to move away from this philosophy in the final scene. The writer takes a step too far to make the film unsettling and shocking. We not only move into the realms of superstition but also of CGI. The CGI is hidden well by the use of night vision but ultimately represents the point where the realistic purity of the film is diluted.
[Rec] is still one of the best horror movies made in the last ten years though and defiantly one of the scariest (although it helps when half of the examples of this genre don’t even try horror and go straight for satire). The way in which it creates a genuinely convincing catastrophe as well as genuine drama to accompany and compliment it, is the way proper horror should be done.