Friday, 11 February 2011

REC: There must be something upstairs

A cameraman and a presenter follow a fire crew into an apartment building. They were called in to rescue a 'trapped woman'. They soon realise that a fire would have been nicer, as the building is quarantined for 'public health reasons'. In other words, a bunch of people are trapped in a building with nasty things. Something is turning the residents into screaming flesh-eaters, and the disease spreads to the bitten. Better run away then. Unlike something like The Crazies, there's an almost real sense of terror coming off the screen in REC. The documentary style puts you right there with them, with the biting and the screaming and the running. It jitters and jumps and throws you across the room as the cameraman runs up six flights of stairs to escape the monsters. It's claustrophobic. As we only get to see through a narrow lens, we're as trapped as the characters - forced to watch whatever the camera points at. Occasionally someone says 'turn it off, turn it off', and for a second that sounds like a good idea. But you'll want to see what happens. It's a compelling thing. Lasting only seventy eight minutes, it spends a lot of time in quieter moments, playing out the fake documentary. The presenter interviews everyone in the assumption that she'll make it out to edit the footage. In this style it's like an extreme version of Paranormal Activity. The monsters are very real and very visible, and when it all kicks off it's very violent. The camera only catches glimpses off it, but it's definitely there. Then the lights go out and they switch to night vision for the really horrible stuff.

It's not very pleasant then, so why would you want to watch it? The thing about REC, as with most horror films, is that it's nonsense. Over the top, entertaining, ridiculous nonsense. To be physically scared or effected by it is to take it seriously. And nobody's doing that. It's putting yourself into a compelling nightmare while you eat biscuits. It's way beyond the line of fantasy and doing all the right things to keep you watching. It's a story you've seen before, but still fun.


  1. This movie sounds awesome!
    Thanks for the great review.

  2. Horror films done like this are the best ones I think....I probably won't watch it though, I'm such a wimp! Great review :)

  3. Andrew - I'm looking forward to watching REC 2. I'm hoping it won't be a let down.

    Ruth - I'm easily impressed by the found footage style. Blair Witch, Paranormal Activity - it makes horror films better.

  4. I’ve heard good things about Rec, and my foreign repertoire could use expanding. The American Remake Quarantine is rubbish though.

  5. Yeah, I'm not going to bother with Quarantine. You should definitely watch REC. These things are always best before an American remake team get their hands on them.