31 Fright Nights: Halloween 2016, Night #5 -[•REC] (2007)

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Tagline: Whatever You Witness… Don’t Stop Recording

Director: Jaume Balagueró & Paco Plaza

Writer(s): Jaume Balagueró, Paco Plaza, Luis A. Berdejo

Studio: Filmax International

Budget: $2m

Box Office: $29.5m

Release Date: 23rd November, 2007

IMDb Rating: 7.5/10

Rotten Tomatoes: 90%

UK Blu Ray release? Yes

Cast

Manuela Velasco – Angela Vidal

Ferran Terraza – Manu

Jorge-Yamam Serrano – Policia Joven

Pablo Rosso – Pablo

Claudia Silva – Jennifer

Martha Carbonell – Sra. Izquierdo

Trailer

Plot According to IMDb: A television reporter and cameraman follow emergency workers into a dark apartment building and are quickly locked inside with something terrifying.

Inertia’s Insight: In the age of the resurgent zombie fascination where the debate rages on about fast vs slow, known disease vs unknown infection and Alexandria vs The Saviours, [•REC] shot on to the scene seemingly as another zombie cash in from the recent success of Shaun of the Dead and the Dawn of the Dead remake. On the surface you could write it off as such, a low budget film that isolates its small number of characters in a claustrophobic setting and unleashes hell, yet [•REC] is a modern horror classic, a tense and frenetic film that takes the zombie movie into unknown territory.

While You’re Sleeping host Angela Vidal is reporting from a Barcelona fire station at night, showing the nation of Spain the good work that goes on whilst they’re sleeping. The footage is seen is obviously raw, as outtakes and retakes are shown as well as set ups of the interviews with the firefighters. It gives credence to the footage, as oftentimes a found footage film can linger on the precipice of belief, leaving the audience to question why on earth you would continue to film. But a documentary crew with a professional cameraman would do just that: keep filming.

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The crew gets a distress call regarding an old lady in an apartment building in the centre of town. Dispatched to investigate, they enter the apartment building and immediately the film draws you into this tight, dark, claustrophobic setting and from there, it doesn’t let up. The pace of the film is on a par with the infected, and from the moment they enter the old lady’s apartment the film careers from floor to floor, room to room, as the story slowly unfolds and we, along with the characters, learn more about the infection.

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The film could not have worked if not for the aspect of found footage. The movement of the camera might unnerve some viewers to the point of motion sickness, but the first person view is essential in order to immerse the audience into this nightmare. Add in the tight, dimly lit staircases and the frantic, rabid infected and you’ve got the recipe for a near-perfect horror film that at times has you watching it through your fingers.

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The lockdown of the building and the lack of information given to the inhabitants of the apartments from the authorities serves to further the need for Pablo to keep filming, and as the chain of command breaks down and the attempt to at first understand and then contain those that have been infected, the survivors are forced further into the building to the penthouse apartment in search of solitude and a safe place to hide. Any horror film is apt to take you further at the end, and the reveal inside the penthouse is both shocking and terrifying. Not only does the explanation of the infection transcend this film from mere zombie flick to a ‘what-the-fuck do I call this?’, it also gives us one of the most visually stunning and equally horrifying infected people you’re ever likely to see.

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The ending is ambiguous, enough to tease a sequel whilst simultaneously sealing the film with a bleak ending you’d come to expect. Luckily it spawn sequels – three in fact – that explored the origin of the virus as well as the effect of the outbreak in other areas of the city. The sequels are impressive, even moving away from the found-footage aspect, but just like a virus itself, the beginning is always more intriguing and impressive.

Inertia’s Ideal Score (* out of 5): * * * * *

Trivia

  • The actors were never given the script in its entirety so none of them knew their characters fates, sometimes not until the day they were actually filming their scenes.
  • Filmed chronologically.
  • The filmmakers chose to follow firemen instead of policemen as since 9/11 it was believed that firemen were seen as more favourable.

Quotes

ANGELA: There are incredible security measures in place. We know nothing. They haven’t told us a thing. We saw special forces, health inspectors wearing suits and masks, and its not very comforting.

CESAR: There’s something more to this place. Our cells don’t work. Neither does the TV or radio. We’re isolated.

ANGELA: It’s nearly 2am and we’re still sealed in this building that we came to with the firemen earlier this evening, to assist an elderly woman who later attacked a policeman and a fireman. They’re both in critical condition. The police won’t let us leave and are giving us no explanations.

All images courtesy of Google


Tomorrow: Night #6 – Teeth (2007)

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