[REC] (2007)
By: James Gillett on April 13, 2010  | 
Asylum | Region 4, PAL | 1.85:1 (16:9 enhanced) | Spanish DD 5.1 | 75 minutes (Full Specs)
The Movie
Cover Art
Directors: Jaume Balagueró Paco Plaza
Starring: Manuela Velasco, Ferran Terraza, Pablo Rosso, Jorge-Yamam Serrano, David Vert
Screenplay: Jaume Balagueró, Luis Berdejo, Paco Plaza
Country: Spain
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A Young TV reporter and her cameraman find themselves quarantined inside an apartment block with a zombie-like infection spreading throughout its residents.

With a surge of films of this type recently including the average Cloverfield, the much better Diary of the Dead, not to mention this film's US remake Quarantine, it could be easy to overlook a little Spanish film titled REC.

That would be a mistake.

In terms of scares, REC is easily one of the most effective films of its type in years. It really is all mounting dread and rising tension until the final almost unbearable minutes. Its simplicity (there isn't a whole lot more going on than the top paragraph suggests) is an asset. Why? Because REC is here to concentrate solely on delivering a pure horror experience, and does it ever. Having our protagonists trapped inside an apartment block also turns out to be an inspired decision (even if it was a budgetary one?) as the dark claustrophobic location only heightens the terror.

Casting is good too, especially Manuela Velasco as the charming reporter. She really shines in the early scenes and proves a fine (very cute) lead. Many of the actors playing the residents also prove well up to the task and keep the film grounded in their everyday yet diverse portrayals. Some great moments come when (in true faux-documentary style) a few give interviews to the camera. Some are amusing (an old couple bickers and one man clearly loves the attention a little too much) while some are more effecting as they simply portray their characters terror or confusion. It all adds up to a clever - and human - reprieve from the horror just before the flick shifts into high gear, and all hell breaks loose.

There's really not much that can be said here in the way of negatives. Some may be bothered by the shaky cam moments, but it's pretty unavoidable in this type of film and isn't quite as distracting as in some other recent flicks of this ilk. Chances are you won't even notice with co-directors Jaume Balaguero and Paco Plaza managing consistently to get absolutely every ounce out of the films documentary style. And let's face it, at 75 minutes, it certainly never runs the risk of overstaying its welcome.

So the remake is out there. It's likely to be more readily available and (if you're an English speaking chap) doesn't require you to read subtitles. So which one should you watch? Well let me put it this way: There are only two circumstances I'd suggest you give any of your time and money to the US riff Quarantine.

1: You've seen REC and now you're curiosity is getting the better of you, compounded by the fact you have a bit of a thing for Jennifer Carpenter (reasonable). 2: You are unable to read subtitles and it's quite likely that it'll take you longer to learn to read than you have to live (and you can't source a disc of REC with a dub track).

Yep, very much go for REC. Its scares are handled far more effectively and the lead is much more engaging. You're really just doing yourself a disservice by not getting your mitts on original.
REC is presented in a clear and sharp 1:85:1 anamorphic transfer. It was shot digitally for a particular effect, so with that in mind the transfer looks just how it should.
There's a choice of DTS 5.1, Dolby Digital 5.1 and Stereo 2.0. Sound is great and does a fine job of submerging you in the experience. There are also a couple great jolts moments, so switch off the lights and turn this up loud.
Extra Features
Interview with Manuela Velasco 12:21mins; Extended Footage 8:23mins; Deleted Scenes 2:25mins; Behind the Scenes Footage 13:48mins; Casting Tapes 14:00mins; Trailer 1:20mins; Image Gallery. It's a reasonably strong set of extras, though it is missing a little from some of the 2 disc Special Editions available elsewhere. The standout here is an interview with the film's star Manuela Velasco as she candidly talks about the film's production in an alleyway. Why an alleyway? I don't know, but it worked for me.
The Verdict
REC is an impressive and effective horror film. The tension is palpable and the lead actress shines. Having also seen Quarantine makes me appreciate this flick even more. Do yourself a favour; avoid the US remake and seek out the original. Highly recommended.
Movie Score
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