[Rec] (directed by Jaume Balaguero and Paco Plaza) is a movie that grabs you with a scintillating introduction- a quarantine effort is set into action for a single building in order to stop a potential zombie pandemic from wreaking havoc on all of mankind. In addition, the entire film is shot in a found footage approach that you might be familiar with in other movies such as The Blair Witch Project, Cloverfield, and Paranormal Activity. While I do think that found footage is a unique way to showcase a story towards an audience, my fondness towards these kind of works have been starting to wear thin since so many movies within the horror genre is shot in this particular manner; the element of surprise isn’t quite as strong. But, [Rec] makes nice use of it’s format since pretty much all of the movie takes place within an enclosed space; which ratchets up the scare factor for me since I do have a bit of claustrophobia.
The story of [Rec] is conveyed to the audience as a live news broadcast where a cameraman (which is the perspective you see from) and Angela, a young female television reporter, are documenting the daily life of Firefighters. Shortly during the documentary, they receive a call to head to an apartment structure after mysteriously fishy activity has been going on inside one of the buildings. As the pair spends some time interviewing some people who are deeply scared and trying to get out from this premise, they soon come to the realization that the entire edifice has been completely quarantined; which is quite unfortunate since it is teeming with ferocious zombies that can sprint pretty fast. Yikes.
[Rec] did start out quite slow and did sort of had me on the verge of sleeping despite it’s rather brief runtime (1h 18 minutes). But once the [sheet] hits the fan, the feeling of absolute fear and anxiety doesn’t subside at all; it is definitely not for the faint of heart. As the atmosphere within the apartment complex slowly heads towards chaos and growing distrust towards one another, Angela and the cameraman inquisitively capture every moment of disarray, while also thinking on how to live through this grave situation.
With a lot of horror movies, I have a hard time of staying fully hooked towards whatever is transpiring on screen. But I didn’t have that problem with [Rec] because I felt incredibly engrossed with the whole affair; their were moments where I honestly thought that I was one of the characters and not just lying on the couch in a fetal position with a blanket over my head. I came into this movie expecting a plethora of jumpscares, (and their were some that shook me to the core) but even the moments that didn’t rely on jumpscares exuded a very disquieting ambience throughout. Their wasn’t any moment in the movie where I felt like I could breathe a sigh of relief. I consider this an accomplishment because usually I’m either apathetic or laughing at the characters for their inept decisions in other horror flicks.
All in all, I really enjoyed [Rec]. If I looked at it in terms of narrative scope, I guess this movie does fall a bit short since most of the characters are quite generic and get killed off before you even really get to know them. Although, the last 10 or 15 minutes does share interesting lore regarding the virus, so I’m eager to see how the sequels that have been made build upon this plot structure. On the flipside, when it comes to offering a spine-chilling cinematic experience that uses found footage to it’s fullest potential through well-timed jumpscares and perpetual suspense, it definitely delivered. If you are looking for a horror movie that puts you front and center throughout the whole ordeal, [Rec] is a scarefest that shouldn’t be missed.