This 2020, every Tuesday I will reviewing a horror film, and this week we have 2007’s [rec].
After reviewing the older horror classic, 1961’s The Innocents last week, I returned to reviewing more modern horror movies this week, with 2007’s [rec]. Rec is a pivotal example of the found-footage horror genre, one of the most famous sub-genres inside the horror genre. Other examples include The Blair Witch Project (1996), often called the first proper example, Paranormal Activity (2007), Cloverfield (2008), and Lake Mungo (2010). Rec is often called one of the best and most loved of its genre.
Rec centres on Angela Vidal (Manuela Velasco), a reporter and her cameraman, Pablo (Pablo Rosso) who are doing a report on a group of local firefighters. After a while of being bored, Angela and Pablo accompany two firefighters to a building complex after they get a call from a old woman who is trapped in her apartment. As they get there and we are introduced to the complex’s residents and other police, it is revealed that the complex has been part of an onslaught of a mysterious illness that is turning all the infected residents rabid. As, Angela, Paulo and all the other residents discover that the building has been sealed off to avoid an outbreak, they all attempt to escape, alive.
The film really succeeds because it feels very real and raw, and that has always been the biggest charm of found-footage genre. Although, it has been done to death over the years, when done well and done right, it can be very effective because it just make the whole situation feel very relatable and real.
This is also influenced by the various small details that the writers-directors, Jaume Balaguero and Paco Blaza employ to make it feel more real. There are numerous moments of the characters talking about often trivial and superficial things, and this adds to the realistic feeling. Also, the way in which various characters react to the pseudo-documentary format – for example, at one moment we see Pablo put his camera down at one moment, and a young girl play with it – also feels very real. We also see various characters get shy around the camera or try and fix their appearance when seeing it, and this carries on the realistic feeling.
Other than being a really great example of the found-footage genre, the film is a very well-paced horror film. The directors are very clever to place some breaks in there for the audience as otherwise the film would of been a non-stop and relentless horror film. At the start, we see Pablo and Angela sitting around and being bored, and this eases the audience into a real false sense of security, and gives the film a good way of building tension and unease. There is also a moment in the middle of the film, after the initial outbreak and shock, in which Angela interviews various residents of the complex. In this moment where the characters sit down and talk, it gives the audience a chance to get to know the characters, and a break from the bleak horror around us.
Unlike a lot of the horror films discussed on here, which often limit their jump-scares and settle for more subtle scares, this film does use jump-scares in plenty, but does it right. The jump-scares are done so that they are scary and viseral, and make you jump out of your seat. They make you feel scared about what will happen next, but never doing so in a way that feels cheap.
Also, what’s really scary about the film is – in the same vein as many infection/zombie movies – the humans are the real enemies. Also, the directors are very clever to take the Jaws approach with showing the monsters in this movie, as they don’t show them that much, and when they do, it is very effective and scary. One of the few mis-steps for me in this movie is the film’s ending, in which we see the monster in full (although, through night-vision googles, which very much gave me Silence of the Lambs vibes), and this ends up feeling quite un-effective as the monster just looks quite silly and strange.
The film owes a large debt to a lot of found-footage and monster movies that came before it. The biggest comparison is The Descent, which came out two years before, and deals with a group of people in a confined space dealing with a humanoid foe. Now, Rec does not have the depth of something like The Descent – it is more a substance-base exercise in horror, but a good one nonetheless.
Overall, Rec is a really great example of a modern found-footage horror movie. If you’re sick to death of all the Paranormal Activity’s, then be sure to watch this movie, because it really open you eyes to how great the found footage genre can be when done right.
Next Week: Thirst (2009)