August 11, 2012

[REC] (2007)

"A television reporter and cameraman follow emergency workers into a dark apartment building and are quickly locked inside with something terrifying."

In preparation for my next podcast, I rewatched "[REC]" yesterday, started making some notes, and then realised that I had never written a review of it. So, only about 5 years too late, here's my review of "[REC]".

The first thing which I noticed was that the skinny, rabbit-toothed reporter, Ángela Vidal, was really two-faced. I think this was a very well observed piece of filmmaking and definitely a criticism of all those TV journalists who act all friendly (and a bit stupid) but are quite ruthless underneath. Ángela Vidal, played by Manuela Velasco, came across as someone who thought that she was better than everyone else, who considered that the job was beneath her, and was completely narcissistic. Apart from her sexy upper arms, I didn't like anything about her.

As far as eyecandy in the movie went, I thought that Maria Lanau who played Mari Carmen (the little girl's hysterical mother) was much better looking than Manuela Velasco. Well, she was until she got bitten anyway. Maybe it's because she reminded me slightly of uber hot Belén Rueda who is around the same age and equally well preserved.

Unfortunately, Ángela dominated this film. I don't think there were more than 5 of the 120 minutes where she wasn't on screen, and she was a very annoying character. If she wasn't acting in a controlling way or redundantly telling the cameraman to film things, she was screeching at the top of her voice. I'm glad I had subtitles and could turn the volume down.

"Eeeeh, what's up, Doc?"

As for the story, for another faux found footage movie, "[REC]" wasn't bad. I was a bit annoyed by what I would call "linear gameplay", since a lot of the characters' actions involved going backwards and forwards over the same ground just like in a "Resident Evil" game. Actually, it also reminded me of "Doom" and "Quake" in the way that it was all a lot of running through corridors, or up and down stairs, collecting an item at point A to be used at point B, and unlocking doors etc. The video game influence on "[REC]" were blatantly obvious.

Among all the outstanding gore and make-up effects, there were even a couple of jump scares which actually got me. Both involved the little girl, Jennifer, once she had turned rabid. I didn't find the atmosphere to be particularly creepy, and there wasn't any tension, but the jump scares just happened so unexpectedly that they caught me off guard.

Of course, there were several plot holes which almost spoilt my enjoyment of "[REC]" including how Max, the little girl's dog, got infected when the Portuguese girl had been locked away for years with no contact with any of the other residents of the building. The old woman who was said to have cats didn't actually have any cats roaming around her apartment either which was a huge disappointment for me.

The revelation that the rabies-like virus which was turning everyone into zombies was supernatural in origin was a bit hard to believe so I can see why "Quarantine" (2008), the American remake, left that part out. Having to use newspaper clippings and an old-fashioned tape recorder to explain why everything was happening was either an homage to "The Evil Dead" (1981), or more likely, was something else borrowed from computer games.

Even though it had a lot of faults, I was actually quite entertained and really enjoyed rewatching "[REC]". It was nicely paced, not so obviously staged as "Quarantine", and it looked the part. Due to the subject matter, it was totally unbelievable as a "found footage" film, but I'll still rate it as average.

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