Synopsis: [REC] is another 2007 import (as was this week’s 31 Days feature Inside), but this time: 1) it’s from Spain, 2) it’s the mother-film of the 2008 American remake, Quarantine (which, for the record, I haven’t seen), and 3) it is straight-up terrifying. Television reporter Ángela Vidal and her cameraman, Pablo, get trapped in a Barcelona apartment building with its tenants, a cop, and some firemen. A woman that the firemen are there to help becomes aggressive, and awfully bite-y. Then, slowly but surely, almost everyone becomes a ravenous zombie. How and why the woman became a zombie in the first place is uncovered by the diminishing number of survivors, and it’s sufficiently creepy to turn this shakey-cam zombie-suspense film into a bona fide horror.
Killer Scene: Any one of several moments could go here, but I’m picking the last two scares of the movie. Everything is scarier in nightvision.
Violence: [REC] is not a violent movie, per se. There are spurts of violence, and it’s good, but this movie stakes its claim as a genre film by its suspense and terror. No copious buckets of blood, but the zombies are highly convincing. The gore is there, and balanced — exactly when and where you need it. And as an added bonus, the first-person perspective enhances the spectacle, because you’re thrust in the thick of it all. Or running the fuck away.
Sex: None. Sorry, nerds. You won’t miss it. Really.
Scares: The Barcelona building has a foyer, six units, and a penthouse. And everyone is stuck. The building is surrounded — quarantined. No way in or out without a SWAT team shooting you into tiny bits. The people are in a truly desparate and terrifying situation, and they’re smart. No dumb moves, and they are still in a brutal mess. Then there are the jump scares. I think I jumped a good two feet out of my chair, about 4 times. Mabe a few more. So: a handful of jumping, terrible situation, shakey-cam goodness, and an eerie building. Win, win, scary, win.
Final Thoughts: The movie is shot in Blair Witch Project and Cloverfield shakey-cam style, from the vantage point of an unseen Pablo. While this may sound cheap or amateur, I encourage you to give it a shot here. It makes the movie, as you’re absolutely caught up in the violence and sheer terror and confusion of what the hell is going on in and outside of this place. [REC] didn’t get a theatrical release in the US, but was released on DVD in 2009. Worth the buy if you’re a horror fan. Worth the rent if you’re a zombie fan. Also worth the rent if you’re just a movie fan.