''There's something more to this place. Our cells don't work. Neither does the T.V. or radio. We're isolated.''
"REC" turns on a young TV reporter and her cameraman who cover the night shift at the local fire station...
Manuela Velasco: Ángela Vidal
''Good evening, this is Angela Vidal speaking. Tonight, as usual, we will share this time...''
[Rec] is basically the most, original, raw, horror films to come out for an absolute age. A Spanish horror film, replicated in the style of Cloverfield or Open Water, utilizing that home filmed feel. After seeing [Rec] I can say it's nerve shreddingly effective. It felt like this is the horror film I've been begging for, ever since playing god send Games like Resident Evil and Silent Hill have I had a glimpse of what a film vision could be like, finally [Rec] gives me something terrifyingly real.
It comes off like 28 Weeks Later or 28 Days Later yet it's that unique minimalist way it's conceived, as with way they film it.
So [Rec]'s plot is basically about two reporters whom are doing a documentary about the firemen at a station during their night shift. We are treated to their respective routines and a glimpse of the function of the department. It really does feel like you're watching an actual documentary in motion.
As matters progress we see the firemen take on their first job while the reporters accompany them to a rescue of an old lady trapped within her apartment. What begins as a routine process turns into something extremely sinister and gruesome, not only that scarily terrifying.
''There are incredible security measures in place. We know nothing. They haven't told us a thing. We saw special forces, health inspectors wearing suits and masks, and it's not very comforting.''
Actress Manuela Velasco plays Ángela Vidal, the main protagonist, the pretty eye candy girl reporter, who's the viewers main companion alongside the secondary Pablo who remains unseen mostly during [Rec].
The rest of the cast are impressively gritty and real, Ferran Terraza, Jorge Serrano, Pablo Rosso, David Vert, Vicente Gil and a wonderful Claudia Font as a sweet young girl who becomes a vision of terror.
[Rec] was interestingly enough also made and shot in real locations. No sets were built to make this movie. During the filming of the scene where the young fireman falls from the stairs, not a single actor knew that was going to happen, so the reactions we see on the films were the real reactions of the actors themselves.
The film is co-directed by Jaume Balaguero and Paco Plaza and they have clearly dipped into the bucket of clichés with REC, but in doing so they have created something that is both fresh and reinvigorating. It should be noted that clichés aren't always a bad thing and when put to good use can give the audience exactly what they came to see. It's true that the plot is minimal and there are loose ends, but then the vast majority of horror films often suffer from these traits, and sometimes purposefully, but with REC it doesn't make the film any less enjoyable. It is also evident from the plot and the methods employed that the film is very low budget, but this does not do it any harm, instead it complements the narrative and increases the films appeal.
I believe the true quality of the film lies in its ability to cleverly use the history of the genre and the bare minimal of resources to its maximum potential, there's little room to doubt the reasons for the cameraman to continue filming and this is due to the fact it's his occupation. He is there to film a documentary and in true cameraman style his instincts take over. The acting on show here is also a lot better than some in Cloverfield and the people all look genuine, some are even unattractive, which is realism, not a Hollywood cop out.
To put it simply [Rec] features some of the most fear inducing and scariest scenes to date. It achieves a level of fear that's rarely experienced in cinema and if watching the film carefully it can be seen how. REC has been made by people that are incredibly familiar with the horror genre and fans will recognize the homages and the inspirations used, from classics such as Evil Dead, to The Shining, to 28 Days later and many more. With such a wealth of horror-viewing-experience combined with inspired film-making they are able to draw upon some of the best moments in horror history.
Towards the final reels the film plays like an amalgamation of ideas and inspirations. One of which is the influence of contemporary video gaming as some scenes allude to how certain computer games work ( such as first person shooters) and this is supported by the POV technique as we, the viewer, live the character of the cameraman much in the same way a gamer lives the character he/she is in control of. This notion is furthered by the different levels in the apartment building, the films use of rooms, the final scenes and several allegories to various computer games including the mentioned Resident Evil, Alone in the Dark and Silent Hill.
For a feature film it is incredibly short, at a mere 75 minutes, in fact it is closer to the length of a TV documentary which is possibly its goal. I cannot recommend this film enough and have even attempted to script my review in a way as to not give too much away of it's genius masterful strokes, as it is a [Rec]comendation that needs to seen. Watch it with the lights off, alone, if you dare...
''It's nearly 2 A.M. and we're still sealed in this building that we came to with the firemen earlier this evening, to assist an elderly woman who later attacked a policeman and a fireman. They're both in critical condition. The police won't let us leave and are giving us no explanations.''