Jaume Balaguero

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You could try and argue that [Rec] isn’t one of the best found footage films ever, but you’d be fighting a losing battle. The 2007 chiller managed a near perfect execution of story and format in a film that gives viewers a likable heroine, an interesting mythology and multiple scenes of pure terror. A sequel followed two years later, and while it wasn’t quite as strong it once again delivered lots of scares alongside a developing story. Both films used found footage and both managed it with extreme effectiveness. but a decision was made to drop the tool for the [Rec]3: Genesis, and that decision along with a shift to a more comedic tone resulted in a disappointment. Jaume Balagueró, the co-director/co-writer of those first two films (as well as the director of the excellent, blackly comic thriller Sleep Tight), skipped out on part three but is now back in control for [Rec]4: Apocalypse. The film is said to be the final installment in the series, and as the production still (courtesy of Bloody Disgusting) above shows it also promises to be another extremely bloody affair. Check out the first trailer below.

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[REC]3: Genesis

The zombie genre has a long way to go before it becomes as annoying as the vampire one, but it’s well on its way to becoming just as ubiquitous. Most of them fall by the wayside into a generic pile of body parts and walk/run arguments, but there are a few that stand out for their inventiveness, energy and pure terror. Two of the best examples in recent years come courtesy of Spanish co-directors Jaume Balagueró and Paco Plaza. [Rec] and [Rec]2 tied the “found footage” trend to a zombie-like outbreak with both films consisting strictly of handheld (or helmet mounted) camera footage wielded by the characters themselves. They both take place in the same building and are ridiculously and wonderfully terrifying. (The zombie moniker is arguable as they most resemble the mindless ghouls from 28 Days Later, but just run with it. Or walk with it.) The third film, Genesis, loses Balagueró’s involvement as Plaza takes on solo directing duties. Unfortunately, he at some point inexplicably decided the [Rec] films were lacking in laughs and felt he could rectify that here. He tries to infuse comedy into the story, and even though he fails repeatedly each stab at humor lessens any hope for the horror side of things. Jokes fall flat. Terror, tension and fear are non-existent. And we quickly realize which half of the original directing duo held all the talent.

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Two years ago, on a night just like this, Landon and I sat down on a giant couch as Luke Mullen introduced us both to [REC]. Needless to say there was an equal amount of screaming and bodily fluid clean-up after the credits rolled. That movie is scary as hell. So is the sequel. Paco Plaza and Jaume Balaguero managed to take the same concept and extend it along with its mythology in [REC] 2. With the third and fourth installments, the pair are going in an entirely new direction. [REC] 3: Genesis moves the action far away from the infamous apartment building and into the daylight. As promised by the synopsis, it will lead into the fourth film – the final chapter in the series. The teaser trailer is an exercise in oddity as a wedding party erupts in the bloodiest kind of wanton violence.

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If you somehow aren’t aware by now, we take Fantastic Fest pretty seriously ’round these parts. America’s largest genre festival will kick the doors off the hinges for its 7th incarnation this September, and your faithful crew here at Starship Reject could not be more excited. As always, we’ll be assembling our Fantastic Fest Death Squad to attempt the insane goal of reviewing each and every film that plays this year. Take a gander at some of the titles that have jumped out at us from this latest batch. First up is Lars Von Trier‘s Melancholia. Antichrist was huge at Fantastic Fest back in 2009, and the buzz out of Cannes and from a brief run in LA has me chomping at the bit to see Von Trier’s latest as soon as possible. While certainly polarizing, Von Trier is also an extremely versatile and uncompromising filmmaker, and I can’t wait to see him put his own unique spin on a story with sci-fi elements. You can bet the Rejects will be first in line for this one come September. You also know we’re looking forward to You’re Next, the new film from the team behind last year’s A Horrible Way to Die. While their previous effort wasn’t a perfect film, the last 20 minutes in particular were chilling and showed quite a bit of promise with their fresh take on serial killer celebrity. Adam Wingard returns to direct You’re Next, and genre favorite AJ Bowen joins a cast that includes […]

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Drinking Games

Just when you thought it was safe to go back into your super-rabies-infested apartment building in Barcelona, directors Jaume Balagueró and Paco Plaza bring the horror back in a sequel to the groundbreaking [REC]. This time, we see more of the horror from a couple different perspectives, and even though it’s shakycam with subtitles, it’s easy enough to follow, even with a few drinks in you.

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Why Jaume Balaguero would even want to step foot inside another enclosed apartment complex after delivering REC, REC 2, and steadily working on two other films for that franchise, is beyond reason. Those movies were enough to make me happy to be in a house where it’s nice and safe (except for all the masked and un-masked, tennis shorts-wearing strangers that keep coming by to torture me and my family for no discernible reason). The point? Damn, the REC movies are scary. So when I saw that Twitch had a teaser for Balaguero’s forthcoming Sleep Tight – the day was made. Check it out for yourself, and never look at your doorman the same way:

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REC 2

Picking up where the original left off, [REC] 2 offers a bevy of first-person scares and moments rife with tension. It’s an admirably efficient horror exercise with an in-your-face, down-to-business sensibility that never lets up. The picture lacks the fully-rounded, satisfying sense of a narrative arc introduced and explored, but it provides a fine dose of sheer visceral entertainment. Shot in the Blair Witch/Cloverfield handheld style, the picture forgoes exposition to send a new team into the sealed off apartment building overrun with zombies, into which (in the original) a TV reporter and her cameraman descended, never to return. The new, rather brainless squad consists of a medical officer (Jonathan Mellor) hiding a secret and a SWAT team.

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When he reviewed it at Fantastic Fest last year, our own Cole Abaius called [REC] 2 a “near perfect” horror movie. It’s the kind of movie that I won’t even see because it’s so terrifying. I even had to close my eyes during this red band trailer…

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After stunning audiences with their first two films, Plaza and Balaguero are each taking on a REC film of their own.

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ff-deathsquadfooter

Coming off of the sealed-off apartment of REC, the story begins mere moments after the last film ends as a S.W.A.T. team prepares to enter the building with a mysterious man from the Health Department. What they find is the truth behind what’s been going on and, of course, a ton of still-starving victims of the virus chomping at the bit for human flesh.

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