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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

*REC (2007)

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REC is a great example of how a film can be made with a very small amount of special effects and a moderate budget. Spanish films had had their ups lately with Rec and with another excellent horror flick called The Orphanage (2007). Both films are fueled by atmosphere and good performances, leaving the plot elements to be gathered properly throughout and put into place properly in the third act.

REC is about a television reporter and her cameraman who are shooting a piece about what firefighters do when everybody’s asleep. Of course it’s late at night and they grow bored stiff. That is until the alarm goes off and a crew of firefighter is dispatched to the scene where a woman is locked in her apartment. The TV reporter and her cameraman are allowed to tag along and in the three-story apartment building they arrive at an old woman is bloodied and out of her mind. She attacks one of the firefighters and bites him severely in the neck. It’s gruesome and it’s awesome and it’s still early in the film, and we immediately subconsciously know that it’s going to be a zombie film.

The firefighter is carried downstairs to the lobby, where he is to be escorted to the paramedics unit that is waiting outside in the street but the group find themselves locked inside the building along with all its tenants. A police force is waiting outside the building and they quickly quarantine it while yelling into a megaphone what is happening outside. They tell the crew and tenants that the officer locked inside the building with them will be issuing orders to them while they instruct him on the situation via his dispatch radio.

Minutes later another police officer’s body plummets from the stairway onto the lobby floor, crashing with blood spraying everywhere.

From here on out it’s not your usual zombie flick because you only have about ten characters and the building has three floors, one of which is unexplored until the end. One by one, some become infected and run amuck trying to bite others and infect them and the main crew find themselves running up and down the stairs quite frequently:

“We must go there and find this person”, and “Oh no! She’s disappeared! …wait, there she is! Run!”

You hear that quite a lot but it never repeats itself because there is only so much you can do inside a small building. From here on I will reveal nothing further that happens in the film except to say that the last fifteen minutes are some of the creepiest, scariest minutes I have ever seen in a film.

REC is shot entirely through the perspective of the cameraman, which is a familiar growing style but only some movies pull it off well, like George A. Romero’s Diary of the Dead, and some fail miserably, like Cloverfield.

It looks like it was shot with only five or six edits but I know the magic behind filmmaking and I know that there are many hidden edits. Whenever there is a dark segment on screen that lasts for even a couple of frames an edit can be hidden in there, but viewing the film a second time I honestly could not find so many hidden edits and that is a sign of great filmmaking and editing.

This movie was made two years ago and it finally makes its way onto video in North American. It also has an English dub so weaklings and egoists can watch it, too. Last but not least, a similar film called Quarantine has hit theatres a few months back and apparently it’s a shot by shot remake of this film. I ask you "why"? Was this movie so terrible that it had to be remade? If you go to IMDB or Rottentomatoes you’ll notice that everyone hates Quarantine but loves REC. Why? Because REC came first, that’s why. Nobody likes a lazy remake.

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