Movie Reviews
[REC] at Fantasia 2008
By Al Kratina
July 7, 2008 - 22:24

2007, Spain
Director: Jaume Balagueró, Paco Plaza
Screenplay: Jaume Balagueró, Paco Plaza, Luis Berdejo
Cast: Manuela Velasco, Javier Botet, Manuel Bronchud, Martha Carbonell, Claudia Font
Producers: Julio Fernández
Distributor: Seville


There’s something to be said for getting the job done with the tools you’ve been given. And if those tools happen to be a digital camera, several DVD copies of 28 Days Later, and a hammer, that’s okay.

So, when I say that Spanish horror film [REC] is derivative, I don’t necessarily mean it as an insult. It draws on recent cinematic history, to be sure, borrowing heavily from the aforementioned British film and The Blair Witch Project, among others. But like a good ghost story told over a campfire by a Scout Leader with a twitchy eyelid and knife scars, familiarity does not interfere with intensity and effective chills.

Shot in the cinema verité style seen most recently in Cloverfield, [REC]is presented entirely as first-person camera work. A television crew rides along with a fire-truck, and finds themselves quarantined in an apartment building alongside some very hungry tenants.

At only 75 minutes, the film doesn’t have time to wear out its welcome. But while it moves along at a fever pitch during many scenes, directors Jaume Balagueró and Paco Plaza still find the time to let the story breath at points, masterfully setting up the characters and creating mood before moving onto the scares. The film does get patently ridiculous in its final third, but by that point it’s far too late, and far too intense, for it to really matter.

[REC] has been remade as the American Quarantine.

Rating: 8/10

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