Shot in the same documentary/shaky cam style as The Blair Witch Project and Cloverfield, [Rec] should be a tired and clichéd film, but instead the latest Spanish horror production triumphs as a tightly wound and frightening horror experience.
[Rec] stars Manuela Velasco as Angela, a reporter who along with her never seen yet always present cameraman Pablo (Pablo Rosso), is documenting a night with a local fire crew for television program, “While You Are Sleeping”. A dour evening at the fire station is disrupted by a distress call. Clamouring to document the only substantial piece of action that night, Angela and Pablo accompany the two firemen (Carlos Lasarte and Jorge Serrano) to an apartment building, where an elderly resident has gone insane.
A chilling scene is created, as the firemen, two policemen, and the TV crew approach the clearly deranged woman, who is drenched in blood. The tension snaps as she takes a bite out of one of the policemen. All hell breaks loose, as a contagion – spread through an exchange of saliva or blood – slowly turns the buildings inhabitants into rage filled, flesh chomping abominations.
To make matters worse, the authorities have quarantined the apartment, leaving Angela and company to fend for themselves.
An assorted cast of characters make up the buildings tenants. There is the family of Asian immigrants, who the neighbours look upon with racial mistrust; a slightly paranoid mother and her sickly daughter; and a camp elder gentleman, among other lambs to the zombie slaughter.
Those with an affliction towards being scared be warned: there are several crap inducing jolts in this one.
Since the frame reference for the viewer is Pablo’s camera and its narrow scope, the audience will be left shaking in their seats as their imagination runs wild as to what may be lurking around the corner.
One particular sequence shot in night vision is so frightening, that it makes Jodie Foster’s romp in the dark in the Silence of the Lambs seem like a number from a Broadway musical. And for horror fans this is a good thing, since horror films seldom scare anymore, especially American horror cinema which relies too much on gore, and not enough on frightening the audience.
[Rec] bucks the trend in a big way, and stamps Spain’s authority as the new kings of horror.