Experience Fear

Directed by Jaume Balagueró & Paco Plaza

Reviewed by Deep Red

I saw the trailer for [REC] 4:Apocalypse (2014) recently so I thought I’d go back and rewatch the first three. Tonight I watched the first one again, seen it a fair few times now. I thought I’d start with a couple of numbers, as they stand at the moment, [REC] gets 7.5 on IMDb and 96% on Rotten Tomatoes’ Tomatometer. That’s a lot of love! But is it enough?

[REC] (2007) is a Spanish found footage film, as in the action is filmed by a character(s) in the film like they’re making a home movie or a documentary or whatever. In this case it’s the latter as it’s a reporter and her cameraman shooting firefighters at work, first at the fire station and then following the fire crew as they respond to a call. There is a remake of [REC] called Quarantine (2008) and it is very, very good but I would say watch the original first if you intend to watch any or both. Is there any point watching both once you’ve seen the original? Well, being that they’re so similar, probably not. I love Quarantine personally, I own both Quarantines and all three [REC]s, if you have to remake a film that’s definitely how you should do it. But I prefer the original, this, hands down.

Manuela Velasco plays reporter Ángela Vidal and she’s definitely in the right place at the right time for a story. Pretty cute too!

So we’re at the fire station and Ángela’s doing her thing with the hunky firemen, no, not that thing, the other one, reporting. Now, the film looks and feels realistic and already it works. When the call comes in, it feels real, the ride in the fire engine, feels real. So, this film’s succeeding from the start at placing us right in the action. We arrive at the apartment building, feels real. The cast are phenomenal because you genuinely see them as real people, there’s no dodgy acting going on here, a great start!

The beauty of this film is we, the audience, are thrown into this crazy situation at exactly the same time as Ángela, the cameraman, the fire crew and indeed the other residents are thrown into this situation so we essentially experience it to a much higher degree of subjectivity than a normal film. That’s the essence of found footage really but not every found footage film achieves that, [REC] does achieve that.

Things kick off quickly and when the people in the apartment building are quarantined from outside, sealed in, we’re locked in there with them. And because they’re great actors, they come across as normal people just like us which sustains the level of realism.

The special effects, the makeup are beautiful. And that ensures nothing is bursting the little horror bubble that we’re in.

There are some great scenes which I’m not going to spoil. I don’t think it’s all that important to go into the plot, that’s all part of the very first-hand experience of [REC] and I believe it would spoil it to talk about it. It does reach a tremendous conclusion I can tell you that and it builds and builds towards that conclusion with great skill.

Now, if you don’t like shaky cameras or this kind of cinematography in general then you might not like it. Personally I love the visual style of found footage films especially when it’s done this well. I like being right down there in the action and [REC] excels at this style. I think that done well it puts you closer to the action and the shaky cam stuff just seems like a natural part of that. Does to me.

It’s a hectic film but it’s a hectic situation. People are panicking. What the fuck is happening to people? What are they becoming? What the Fox’s Glacier Mint of Satan is happening in this building? JESUS FUCKING CHRIST!!

Do I recommend it? No, I’ve just said all this for the good of my health. Of course I recommend it!