REC (2007)

REC review!Reviewed by Andrew Kasch

Starring Manuela Valasco, Javier Botet, Claudia Font, Pablo Rosso

Directed by Paco Plaza & Jaume Balaguero

This year’s big horror trend (aside from more miserable remakes) seems to be cinéma-vérité with fake documentary flicks like Diary of the Dead, Paranormal Activity, and The Zombie Diaries bursting from the indie floodgates. But unlike the old Blair Witch fad, most of these titles have delivered the goods, which puts extra pressure on [REC], a Spanish import so hyped that the Hollywood remake is already under way.

The concept couldn’t be more straightforward: Angela is a bubbly TV reporter shooting a documentary series on the late-night lives of firemen. Answering a routine rescue call to an apartment building, the crew find themselves in a world of shit when the would-be victim takes a meaty bite out of her rescuers. With cameras rolling, the crew and residents must find a way to survive the zombie outbreak when they find themselves quarantined inside the building by the trigger-happy military.

[REC] is directed by Filmax regulars Jaume (Darkness) Balageuro and Paco (Romasanta) Plaza, which automatically raised a few red flags. Both have produced visually stunning but utterly vapid movies that left me close to clawing my eyes out from boredom, and for the first act of this film, I wasn’t entirely won over. But by the time the end credits rolled, I found myself white-knuckled and gripping my seat from pure exhaustion. This is the kind of movie that is perfectly suited to the talents of these two filmmakers. [REC] isn’t so much a story as it is a ride, and what it lacks in substance, it more than makes up for in pure dripping style.

Balageuro and Plaza take their time to build the atmosphere around their location, then completely explode into a frenzied rollercoaster. Simply put, this experience feels like being trapped in a haunted maze, and there are images here that are the stuff of nightmares. It’s simple-minded, sure, but just when you’re ready to dismiss this one as another unoriginal zombie entry, the directors open the gates and unleash a whirlwind of chaos, claustrophobia, and jump-from-your-chair “Holy fuck!” moments. Natural performances and a lack of music only add to the realism that comes across even with lavish production values.

The final few minutes of this film are terrifying beyond words, leaving the viewer with no answered questions or quaint resolutions. Short and sweet, [REC] delivers a perfect fast-paced ride that will score big with horror fans everywhere despite its familiar elements. Just be sure to see it before the Hollywood-butchered remake.

4 out of 5

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  • zombiefreak

    I just finished watching this and I am pretty much speechless. I think this is the first time I ever applauded after a film in the privacy of my own home … by myself! I may be a complete dork, but what a fucking ride!

    Having seen the trailer recently for the American remake, I am wondering how Hollywood will manage to fuck this one up. Jennifer Carpenter is awesome, and I’m hoping for good while expecting the worst. I’ll still go see it.

    At least my first impression of the story will always be this triumphant foreign language version.

  • Hunter1006

    O RLY NVM I have it now.

  • toshiromifune69

    I just saw this courtesy of bittorrent….amazing!!! Everything some over-budgeted fake verite piece of excrement like CLOVERFIELD aspires to be–short, nasty and very very real–the cast is totally convincing and the camerawork is just crappy enough to draw you into the scenario–but not so much so that it’s unwatchable. I loved the fact that this is one of few movies I’ve seen in a while where when the characters are in some place that’s dark–the screen is pitch black. Looks like the remake will largely be a rehash–even down to the ending with the newsgirl being dragged away into the darkness–but hopefully it won’t be embarassingly bad or in any way upbeat. Three cheers for good old nihilistic horror!!!

  • Hunter1006


    • nash7950


  • thedudeabides

    REC was awesome. Best of 2007. I’m looking forward to the remake even though it will pale in comparison to the original.

  • Terminal

    If anything the remake will be fun, but losing a crucial element of the story in favor of the superficial conclusion in the first half is terrible.

  • Kryten Syxx

    REC was unsettling, but I’ve got a bad feeling that may not carry over with the remake.

  • gabrielenriquez

    I just saw it and i loved it.
    And i still want to see the remake.