So years ago, a movie called Quarantine came out in the theaters. When I saw the trailers for it, it looked pretty good, utilizing the “first person view” camera style to shoot a zombie movie. Then I read, in a web comic first but other sources later, that it was a remake of a Spanish horror movie, one which had received a lot of critical acclaim. Naturally, that got me really interested in watching the original because horror movies generally don’t get much praise from the critics. So of course, I bought it and it quickly became one of my favorite horror movies to watch. With that being said, let me introduce you to today’s movie, [REC].
The plot: Reporter Angela Videl and her cameraman Pablo are at a fire station to film the night shift for their program, While You’re Asleep. After meeting the station chief and having him show her around, she is introduced to Manu and Alex, the two firemen that she will be accompanying for the night and helps wire them for the show. As they film around the station during the night, an alarm sounds and Alex and Manu quickly get their gear on and race for a waiting truck, with Angela and Pablo racing to catch up to them. They head off to an apartment building where they find a police car outside and some worried residents standing downstairs in the lobby. A police officer comes downstairs and explains that an old woman had been screaming from inside the apartment and the door is locked so nobody could get in to check on her. As Manu and Alex follow the officer upstairs to the woman’s apartment, the officer and his partner comment about Angela and Pablo and don’t seem happy to have them here. After getting the door open, the officers, along with Alex, Manu, Angela, and Pablo, enter the apartment and find the woman covered in blood and standing at the end of the hallway. One of the officers approaches the woman and tries to calm her down. When Pablo turns on his camera’s light so he can see better, the woman starts to freak out and the other officer, Sergio, quickly tells Pablo to turn it off when the woman suddenly lunges out and bites the first officer in the neck. Sergio, Alex, and Manu work to get the woman off the officer and as Alex holds her down, Manu and Sergio carry the officer, with Angela telling Pablo to film everything as the follow them. As they head downstairs, the lights suddenly go out, then come back on and they discover that the building has been sealed off. One of the residents, Guillem, is a medical intern and tends to the wounded officer while Sergio and Manu yell at the people outside to tell them what is going on. An announcement is made over a PA system that the building has been sealed off for health reasons and that they will try to get the people out as soon as possible. The residents are starting to panic and Sergio yells at Pablo to stop filming. One of the residents, Mari Carmen, says that her husband, who was out getting antibiotics for their daughter, says the police have the entire street blocked off. Manu decides to try and find a way out through a textile workshop in the back of the building when suddenly, Alex’s body hits the ground, having fallen or been thrown from the third floor stairwell. Manu, Sergio, and Guillem go to check on him and when Pablo tries filming it, Sergio shoves him out of the way, causing Pablo to briefly stop filming. When the camera is turned back on, Angela and Pablo are heading upstairs and enter the room where they here some screams. They see a wounded woman running towards them before she collapse, just as Manu and Sergio appear. Manu checks on the girl but she is dead and when the old woman appears and races for them, Sergio is forced to shoot her. Seeing that Pablo filmed it, Sergio gets upset but Manu convinces him to calm down and while they head back downstairs, Angela asks Pablo to let her see the footage. When they return downstairs, they find Manu opening the shutter for the textile warehouse and despite Sergio saying they should stay in the hallway, Manu, Angela, and several other residents go inside to see if there is another way out. Not finding one, the residents get upset when they discover that their cell phones are no longer getting a signal and that the TV and radio have been cut off. Guillem tells Manu about a possible way out and they grab the keys from the super’s office and head to another apartment to try and get to a neighboring building but find the police already blocking that way out as well. Sergio shows up and, starting to get unnerved by the situation, draws his gun on the four people but Manu manages to calm him down and they all head back down to the textile workshop. As they are waiting to hear about what to do next, Angela decides to interview the residents and as she finishes, Sergio announces that a health officer has arrived and will be coming in the building. Manu decides to get a count on how many people live in the building and they learn that everyone is accounted for except for the father of a Chinese woman, who is sick in bed. When the health inspector comes in, Angela starts talking into the camera about what is happening but when the health inspector sees the camera, he makes them stop filming. When the camera comes back on, Pablo and Angela are trying to see what the inspector, Sergio, Manu, and Guillem are doing and Pablo manages to look in through a window into the office that the injured men are being kept in. He sees the inspector handcuffing the men to the tables they are on but the officer grabs the inspector while Alex grabs Guillem and bites him. Manu, Sergio, and the inspector manage to get out of the office and the inspector locks the door, trapping Guillem inside. He explains that the virus is spread through saliva and that it infects people at different times due to blood type. He then explains that they had received a call about a dog that was being treated for an unknown disease and they used the chip in it to trace the dog to that apartment building. Angela realizes that the dog belonged to Mari’s daughter Jennifer and when the inspector confronts Mari about Jennifer’s illness, Mari says it is just tonsillitis. Suddenly, Jennifer bites Mari in the face, then runs upstairs and Manu, Sergio, and the inspector quickly grab Mari and handcuff her to the stairwell. Manu, Sergio and Pablo go after Jennifer and when they enter the open apartment room, and discover that the bodies of the old woman and the other girl have disappeared. They soon find Jennifer and Sergio attempts to give her an injection but she leaps at him and during the scuffle, bites him so Sergio grabs her and locks her in a room with her, telling the others to run. As Manu and Pablo go to leave, they encounter the old woman and Manu smashes her in the head with a sledgehammer, just as they hear shots coming from the room Sergio entered. Leaving the apartment, they see some of the residents running upstairs and they learn that the infected are escaping the warehouse. Manu, Angela, and Pablo head into the apartment of a man named Cesar, who tells them the inspector is in their as well. Manu goes to question the inspector but the inspector yells at them to get away, as he has been bitten. Cesar tells them that there might be another way out as their is a drain cover leading to the sewers in the textile warehouse but they would need the key from Guillem’s apartment but before he can tell them which apartment he lives in, the inspector breaks through the doorway and bites Cesar. Running from the apartment, they encounter more infected residents and make their way down to the mailboxes to find Guillem’s apartment, then race upstairs to it. Manu smashes open the door and stands guard while Angela and Pablo go in and look for the key but after they get the keyring, they leave the apartment only to find Manu has turned and is heading after them with the other infected so they are forced to go into the penthouse. Looking around the penthouse, they find news articles pertaining to a girl, Tristana, that was suffered from demonic possession and the Vatican’s attempts to cure her. Finding a tape recorder, they listen to it and learn that the Vatican agent had managed to isolate the enzyme but it had mutated and went viral so he locked the girl in his apartment in the hopes she would starve to death. When the attic door suddenly drops down, Pablo uses the camera to film what it up there but an infected child swipes the camera, breaking the light. Pablo switches the camera to night vision mode, and notices a door that they had not seen earlier. Seeing a severely emasculated Tristana emerge from the door in search of food, Pablo tries to guide Angela away but when Angela knocks something down, Tristana attacks them and kills Pablo. Angela finds the camera and sees Tristana feeding on Pablo and tries to run but falls and as she reaches for the camera, she is dragged off into the darkness.
[REC] received universal acclaim from the critics, holding a 90% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Plunging viewers into the nightmarish hellscape of an apartment complex under siege, [Rec]proves that found footage can still be used as an effective delivery mechanism for sparse, economic horror.” To make the actors emotions seem more realistic, none of them were given the entire script, usually given their parts the day of shooting, so that they were nervous and stressed out as they filmed since they didn’t know their character’s fate. The movie was a box office hit, earning $29.5 million off of a $2 million budget. Due to the popularity of the movie, it spawned 3 sequels and was also remade in the US as Quarantine.
This is a great movie in general, but a fantastic horror movie. The acting was pretty good and, even through subtitles or dubbing, the actors were able to show a great range of emotions throughout the film. While Manuela Velasco (Angela) was the obvious star, I thought Pablo Rosso (Pablo), even though you never see him, made for a more central figure, tending to keep his cool for the most part and staying more focused on what needed to be done. The story was pretty good, keeping the action in one building but spread out throughout the different floors and rooms was a good way to spread out the scares. There were a lot of great “jump” scenes, such as when Alex’s body falls to the lobby floor, and the use of the first person view made them much more effective because it cause you to really focus on what was in front of the camera, especially towards the end where the camera switched to night vision mode. The special effects were pretty good but the real beauty in this was the make up work on the infected people. I definitely have to give props to the work done for Tristana, as she looked so skeletal and gaunt that I honestly thought she might have been CGI. Definitely a movie that is worth watching.
Rating: 5 out of 5